KUALA LUMPUR: An author has questioned why Bujang Valley was not included in the tourism and culture ministry’s move to obtain world heritage status for three more sites in the country.
On July 8, Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Aziz said his ministry had initiated the move to secure Unesco World Heritage Site status for the Royal Belum State Park in Gerik, Perak, the Quartz Ridge of Gombak, Selangor, and the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, a green lung.
He said the ministry had sent a tentative list of documents to Unesco prior to furnishing a complete dossier on the three sites.
V Nadarajan, who authored the book “Bujang Valley: The Wonder That Was Ancient Kedah”, said the Bujang Valley civilisation dated back over 2,000 years.
He compared this with Malacca and Penang, which are 500 years old and 300 years old respectively, yet had been listed previously.
“A civilisation that old, should be given priority over any other site in Malaysia.
“Bujang Valley should be included as the fourth site,” he said at a press conference here today, adding that the civilisation went as far back as 535 BC.
Nadarajan also claimed that in 1987, Unesco had sent a team from Paris to Bujang Valley, and that they had produced a report that the site should be recognised as a world heritage site.
“They had requested the government to submit the necessary dossiers and documents. However, until today nothing has been done,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nadarajan said aside from the Sungai Batu archaeological site, the part of Bujang Valley which is vying for listing as a Unesco World Heritage listing should also include two other sites in the area.
Nadarajan said these two sites, Merbok Museum and Pengkalan Bujang, also held historical significance.
While acknowledging that getting the entire Bujang Valley, which forms one-third of Kedah, to be listed as a World Heritage Site may be difficult, Nadarajan said it could be narrowed down to just these three sites, which covers a 10km area.
At present, only the Sungai Batu Archaeological Complex in Merbok, which is recognised as one of the oldest sites of human civilisation in Southeast Asia, is ready to be listed.
“Instead of just Sungai Batu, Merbok Museum and Pengkalan Bujang should also be included. This triangle of about 10km should be listed as a World Heritage Site.
“It is of archaeological importance and has great tourism potential,” he said.
Nadarajan said there were many artefacts in Merbok Museum and Pengkalan Bujang had old buildings and temples.
Apart from Malacca and Penang, Unesco has listed Lenggong Valley, Gunung Mulu national park and Kinabalu Park in Sabah as World Heritage Sites.