“The adage “old is gold” [rings] true when it {comes] to preserving historical buildings in the country.

‘Leave the buildings as it is and give them a new coat of paint of the same colour. This is the correct way of preserving them and stop approving high-rise or modern buildings. […] It is not just about protecting existing buildings, but also the feel of the place.’ “

This was a comment by a Straits-born heritage lover, Ms Baba Rizal Abdullah, on developments in Melaka’s Unesco heritage zone, reported in a recent New Straits Times article.

“‘Even now in the core  [Melala heritage] zone, heritage buildings have been painted with garish colours, such as red, green, blue and yellow, which should not be allowed when the original colour of these buildings were white’, she said, adding that the buildings were now painted that way, perhaps, to attract business.

She said the owners of the premises must return to the original heritage of their buildings instead of painting them with strong colours.” reported the NST.

Sensible opinion, no doubt shared by our local heritage loving community.

Now… the above picture and the ones below were not taken in Melaka but in Kuching’s modernized India Street. Over the last 2 years, India Street shophouses have been repainted in vivid colours as a complement to the newly constructed covered arcade:

Entrance of India Street, Kuching (old Court House side), 03/2017


India Street Kuching, 03/2017. The red and yellow porch is the renovated entrance of the old Indian Mosque.


Some shophouses of Kuching’s Main Bazaar, Carpenter Street or Padungan areas seem to have started to follow the trend.

Compare: the facade pictured above looked like this before it was repainted:

India Street shophouse facade, before repainting (08/2016)


The original colour of our heritage buildings may not always be white, but the new colour palette and the way it has been used are certainly in sharp contrast with the original and exude a much different “feel of the place”, not to mention the aesthetics of some extensions, signage, makeshift canopies, protruding aircon compressors and roofing material, and the question of the “blending-in” of the covered arcade and of recent nearby highrise constructions.

We can guess the opinion of most of SHS members and that of heritage conservation specialists.

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