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Jakarta Post

Work at ancient candi in Malaysia halted amid public uproar

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Alor Setar, Kedah:   /   Tue, December 3, 2013   /  11:49 am

The developer who demolished a candi, or tomb temple, in Sungai Batu, Bujang Valley has agreed to temporarily stop work, says Kedah state chief Mukhriz Mahathir.

Mukhriz said he had asked state exco member Tajul Urus Mat Zain to get the developer to do this.

'€œI was told the developer has verbally agreed to temporarily cease operation. I will hold a discussion as to what had happened,'€ Mukhriz said.

'€œI found that there were two different views on the incident,'€ he added. The developer reportedly demolished the candi, located at site number 11 in Sungai Batu, about a month ago.

In Kuala Lumpur, Culture and Tourism Minister Nazri Aziz directed the Commissioner of Heritage to save the archaeological site from being destroyed.

The commissioner, he said, could invoke the National Heritage Act 2005 to save the ancient temple, which dated as far back as the first century.

'€œEven if it involves private property, we can use the Act to impose a stop work order and conduct an investigation,'€ he said, adding that Candi Lembah Bujang had a historical significance similar to Candi Borobodur in Indonesia.

Calling for Unesco to declare Bujang Valley a heritage site, Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) president G. Palanivel wanted both the state and federal governments to halt the destruction.

'€œThe prime minister should instruct the relevant authorities to declare the site as a heritage site. Private owners can be compensated,'€ said the Palanivel who is also natural resources and environment minister.

MIC Central Working Committee Member S. Murugessan expressed shock that the state government had sold the land upon which the candi was located to a developer.

Opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice-president N. Surendran said Bujang Valley was the most important archaeological site in Malaysia, and was famous throughout Southeast Asia.

Malaysians reacted in fury over the Internet earlier this week after reports emerged that the centuries old candi, which is featured in the country's history syllabus, had been demolished to make way for a new housing project.

The developers have responded saying that they did not know that the site was historical, while historians say that the candi can be rebuilt if there are plans.

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