Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Bujang Valley Development

The candi number 11 in Bujang Valley, in this 1996 photo courtesy of Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum.

Lembah Bujang (or Bujang Valley in English) is part of the Malaysian historical landscape. With an area of 227 sq km, the site near Merbok, Kedah consists of ruins dating back 2000 years. More than fifty ancient structures – showing strong Hindu or Buddhist influences – have been found todate.

On December 01, 2013, Candi No 11 located in Sungai Batu, measuring 250ft long and 150ft wide – was obliterated by an irresponsible developer, Bandar Saujana Sdn Bhd.

Sadly, both the Federal and State governments failed to prevent it. [A candi is a religious structure similar to a stupa and this particular candi is believed to have been erected sometime in the eighth or ninth century but it was discovered during explorations from 1936 to 1937].

Bujang Valley was the most important archaeological site in Malaysia and it was one of the earliest (if not the earliest) entry points to the Peninsular which even predates the Malaccan empire! Sailors from India were said to have used Gunung Jerai as a reference point to the ancient maritime city.

Excavations at the archaeological site had revealed remains of a jetty, iron-smelting areas and a clay-brick monument dating back to 110 AD, which makes it the oldest man-made structure known in South-east Asia.

It is regrettable that we have little regard for our history. We should have gazetted the area as a heritage site in the first place. Don’t we have the National Heritage Act 2005 for this purpose? Alas, we demolish, destroy and desecrate.

I was at Merchant Square to attend the Friendship Toastmasters meeting. I last called on the club nearly seven months ago but it was great to make a return visit last evening. The meeting may be held at a new venue but everything else was the same as I remembered it. There was a warm welcome and the speeches and evaluations were informed, illuminating and insightful. I would give this meeting a score of an 8 over 10.

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