Kedah govt unable to stop destruction of Lembah Bujang ruins

ALOR STAR (Dec 1, 2013): The Kedah state government said it is powerless to stop a developer from destroying ancient tombs and temples in Lembah Bujang because the area is privately owned.

Kedah Youth and Sports, Arts, Culture and Heritage and Non-governmental Organisations Committee chairman Aminuddin Omar said the 1,200-year-old location was also not gazetted as a historical site, The Malaysian Insider reported.

It was reported that a tomb temple among the historical ruins of Lembah Bujang was secretly demolished by a developer recently.

The act was condemned by non-governmental organisation Badan Warisan Malaysia, which described it as "disgraceful".

Professor Jimmy Lim, who is the sole surviving founding member of Badan Warisan Malaysia, said the Kedah government must act to stop development at the site, and urged the ruins to be archaeologically restored at all costs.

"The state authorities should not have approved this development. They should have consulted or referred the matter to the appropriate heritage authorities in Putrajaya or relevant organisations like Badan Warisan Malaysia.

"Lembah Bujang and the candi (temple) there represent a very old Hindu civilisation and we must preserve any historic monument," he said.

Badan Warisan Malaysia is seeking to get the area listed as a Unesco world heritage site.

The destruction of the tomb was discovered by researcher Datuk V. Nadarajan while conducting a study at the site. He has since lodged a police report on the matter.

Nadarajan said the developer demolished the famous 8th century temple remnants known as Candi Sungai Batu Estate or Bujang Valley Site 11.

He accused government agencies of turning a blind eye to the demolition work, and said the National Heritage Department, Department Of Museums, Kedah State Tourism Committee and Sungai Petani Municipal Council should have protected the sites.

Demolition works, which took place near an oil palm estate, were said to have gone on for over a month, according to Penang Deputy Chief Minister II, Dr P. Ramasamy, who visited the site.

Ramasamy condemned the demolition and was reported as saying that he was shocked to discover the ruins cast aside in a pile of debris.

He said he learned that the Merbok land office had given the developer the green light to clear the land because "there were no historical sites" present.