KUALA LUMPUR: Hindraf Makkal Sakthi has called on the Government of Malaysia to engage with several world bodies to support world heritage status listing for the Bujang Valley.
These bodies, said the NGO in a statement, include the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
“These are sanctioned by Unesco to provide the World Heritage Committee with evaluations on the cultural and natural sites nominated,” added Hindraf Chief P. Waythamoorthy in a statement. “Much work was also done in Bujang Valley during the British period.”
He implied that using local archaeological researchers to deny the world heritage status of the Bujang Valley was driven by attempts to “rewrite history” based on politically-motivated “collective amnesia”.
“Pre-historic and pre-Islamic Malaya was Hindu-Buddhist,” stressed Waytha in drawing on history including the Kadaram Civilisation in Kedah. “Even paganism was an ancient form of Hinduism.”
Waytha, who was briefly in the Federal Cabinet and in the Senate in 2013/2014, was taking the position that Universiti Sains Malaysia Professor Mokhtar Saidin’s comments on the Bujang Valley were not inspired by a “scholarly and academic” approach.
“Scholars must have an apolitical, clinical and dispassionate mindset to win global recognition and approval,” he said.
He referred Mokhtar to Unesco’s ten selection criteria, based on “outstanding universal value” on the World Heritage List. “A site is qualified if it meets at least one criteria,” explained Waytha.
The Hindraf Chief pointed out that Mokhtar, who is Research Director at USM’s Centre for Global Archaelogical Research, must comply with Unesco standards and cannot dictate what a world heritage status must mean.
Mokhtar was quoted in the media as claiming that “animism”, rather than Hinduism-Buddhism, was the dominant feature in the 2,500 year old Bujang Valley.
It was not immediately clear whether Mokhtar was taking the position that “animism”, if true, would disqualify Bujang Valley as a World Heritage Site.