[last updated 12 Aug.2017]

Sarawak’s cultural heritage is regulated by the Sarawak Cultural Heritage Ordinance 1993  (SCHO), which replaced the Antiquity Ordinance Cap. 134 (1958 Ed). The Malaysia National Heritage Act 2005 regulates heritage at national level.

The Sarawak Cultural Heritage ordinance 1993 came into operation on 1 July 1994.

The National Heritage Act  2005 [Act 645] came into operation throughout Malaysia on 1 March 2006 vide Federal Gazette notice PU(B) 53/2006 (source : CLJLaw). The website of the National Heritage Department shows the national Heritage Register list.

Below are summaries, in simple language, of these 2 legal documents:

Summary: [Sarawak] Cultural Heritage Ordinance 1993

Summary: [Malaysia] National Heritage Act 2005

As of 2009, Sarawak had gazetted 18 sites, buildings or monuments, all under the Antiquities Ordinance (i.e. before 1993). These listings date from 1971, 1972 and 1985. All are Government-owned items. One of them, the Satok hanging bridge, is lost as it collapsed in 2004, which reduces the count to 17.

40 other sites, buildings or monuments were approved or proposed in 2007 and 2008 for listing under the SCHO. They include some privately-owned buildings  and buildings/monuments standing on private land. SHS’s understanding is that so far these 40 items have not been gazetted i.e. as yet they are not protected by law.

List of Sarawak Historical Sites, Buildings and Monuments (2009)  [Source  : Sarawak Ministry of Tourism post – 2007 –  accessed 14/11/2014]

A more recent list obtained by the Friends of Sarawak Museum, and circulated in February 2017 [ HeritSites under SkMusDept (list circulated by FoSM 24 01 2017) ] shows 20 additional items with no registration reference. It is not clear if these have been gazetted.


Per the National Heritage Department (Jabatan Warisan Negara) the stock of gazetted heritage items at national level was as follows as of end of 2016*:

Tangible heritage:

Monuments: 284
Objects: 102
Life heritage figures: 21

Intangible heritage: 331 (“national apparels”, food, performing arts, customs and culture)

[* Heritage Department to initiate heritage conservation plan“,  Bernama, 09 Dec. 2016]

The assets registered as heritage at national level list of the National Heritage Department are additional to those registered at Sarawak level. At end 2016, the national list** showed only 3 Sarawak-specific items, all under the “ïntangible” category: “sape”, “Buka Tanah Baru (Iban)”, and “Adat Petudui (Melanau Sarawak).**

** as accessed 12/12/2016


Sarawak-specific provisions on historical buildings:

Guideline on the Preservation and Occupation of Historical Buildings and Monuments” (2pp.)- Sarawak Museum Department Order, 4 Dec. 2009

And, for the record, on Kuching Shophouses:

“Conservation Guidelines for Kuching Shophouses”, Draft, Sept 1992, PELITA  (28 pages, pdf, 3Mb). A framework laid out in the 1990’s as part of proposals for a conservation programme which did not materialize.


In terms of urban planning, Kuching North City (DBKU) has a ‘Kuching Clean, Beautiful and Safe 2013-2017’ (CBS) Enhancement Plan. The “Beautiful” segment  includes a Conservation initiative with a goal of total protection of all heritage buildings by 2017.