[last updated 12/12/2023]


Sarawak Heritage ordinance

In October 2019, the Sarawak legislative Assembly approved a new Heritage ordinance. The Ordinance was gazetted on 13 Dec, 2019. It came into force on 1 March 2022.

Here is new ordinance: Sarawak Heritage Ord, 2019 [source: lawnet.sarawak.gov.my]

For a summary, see our SHS working paper:
Summary-Sk Heritage Ordinance 2019-SHS working document V.02.08.2020

See also our Oct. 2020 opinion article on the Ordinance: The New Sarawak Heritage Ordinance 2019: Will it be a Games Changer?

[The Heritage Bill was tabled (first reading) on 4 Nov. 20109, the first day of the November sitting of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly. The second and third readings took place the following day, 5 Nov. 2019, upon which the Bill was approved without amendments. [ HERE is the unedited hansard of the State Assembly’s debate and approval of the Bill, as accessed on the Sarawak State Assembly website shortly after the debate  – see pages 55 to 76].

Note: Among the provisions introduced by the Ordinance is the setting up of a Heritage Trust Fund. The latter was formally established on 18 November 2020 via Government Gazette (ref: Sk. L.469 – The Financial Procedure (Contingencies and Trust Funds) (Amendment to Schedule) (No.3) Direction, 2020 dated 24 nov. 2020) and came into force on 1st January 2021.
The purposes of the Trust Fund are stated as follows:
(a) Maintenance, preservation, conservation, and enhancement of any heritage or conservation area.
(b) Acquiring or purchasing any heritage or conservation area of exceptional importance to the state
(c) Carrying out  any other projects or activities sponsored by the State Government such as the publication of materials and exhibition of any heritage or conservation areas.
(d) Organising awareness campaign including research study for the conservation, preservation, protection and international listing of heritage and conservation areas.
(e) Paying any cost  or expense lawfully incurred by the Sarawak Heritage Council or the Controlling Officer for the administration and enforcement  of the provisions of the Sarawak Heritage Ordinance, 2019.
(f) For such other heritage-related purposes as the Majlis Mesyuarat Karajan Negeri may direct in writing.
[source: Sarawak Government briefing on the Sarawak Heritaqe Ordinance 2019, 28 Feb. 2022].

Sarawak heritage was previously regulated by the Sarawak Cultural Heritage Ordinance 1993  (SCHO), which itself replaced the Antiquity Ordinance Cap. 134 (1958 Ed). [Summary: [Sarawak] Cultural Heritage Ordinance 1993]

Listings:  As of  September 2021 Sarawak had 41 gazetted heritage items*:

18 items were gazetted in 1971 and 1985 under the (previous) Antiquities Ordinance 1958 (17 current items, further to the collapse of the Satok suspension bridge in 2004):

  • the Astana (Bangunan Astana), Kuching (1870)
  • the (old) Court House (Bangunan Mahkamah), Kuching (1874)
  • Fort Margherita (Kubu Margherita), Kuching (1879)
  • the Square Tower, Kuching (Bangunan Squre Tower), Kuching (1886)
  • the (old) Sarawak Museum building (Bangunan Muzium Sarawak), Kuching (1891)
  • the Post office building (Bangunan Pejabat Pos), Kuching (1931)
  • Fort Lily (Kubu lily), Betong (1858)
  • Fort Alice (Kubu Alice), Sri Aman (1864)
  • Fort Sylvia (Kubu Sylvia), Kapit (1880)
  • Fort Hose (Kubu Hose), Marudi (1899)
  • Niah Caves (Guah Niah), (Miri)
  • Malay Maderasah building (Bangunan Maderasah Melayu), Kuching (1931)
  • the Pavillion building (Bangunan Pejabat Pelajaran), Kuching, (1909)
  • the Round Tower (Bangunan Menara Bulat), Kuching (1886)
  • the old Fort (Kubu Lama),  Limbang (1897
  • Fort Emma (Kubu Emma), Kanowit (1851)
  • the Miri Oilwell No.1 Site
  • [the Satok Suspension bridge (Jambatan Gantung Satok), Kuching (1926) –collapsed in 2004 and reconstructed]

24 additional items were gazetted in September 2019 under the Sarawak Cultural Heritage Ordinance 1993:


  • Chief Justice’s Residence (Tempat Kediaman Hakim), Kuching (1899)
  • (old) Kuching Municipal Council Building (Majlis Perbandaran), Kuching, 1908
  • (old) Chinese Chamber of Commerce (now  Chinese Hostoiry Museum), Kuching, 1912
  • Central Police Station (Balai Polis Sentral), Kuching, (1931
  • Segu Bungalow (Banglo Segu), Kuching (1936)
  • Tua Pek Kong (Siew San Teng) Temple (Kuil Tua Pek Kong (Siew San Teng)), Kuching, (1770)
  • Bishop’s Residence (Rumah Bishop (S.P.G.)), Kuching, 1848
  • St James’ Church (Gereja St. James), Quop (1865)
  • (old) St Thomas’ Secondary School (Sekolah Menengah St. Thomas) Kuching (1885)
  • (old) St Joseph’s Secondary School (Sekolah Menengah St. Joseph), Kuching, (1894)
  • Lim Fah San Temple (Kuil Lim Fah San), Kuching (1896)
  • Baruk, Opar Village (Baruk, Kampung Opar) (1952)
  • Darul Kurnia, Chung Hua School No. 4 (Darul Kurnia, Sekolah Chung Hua No. 4) Kuching (1930)
  • (old) Brooke Dockyard (Limbungan Brooke), Kuching (1912)
  • Datu Bentara Abang Haji Hasyim’s House (Rumah Datu Bentara Abang Haji Hasyim),  “Darul Maziah“, Kampung No.6, Kuching (1885)
  • Rajah Charles Brooke Memorial Hospital, Jln Puncak Borneo, Kuching (1925
  • Lau King Howe Museum (Muzium Lau King Howe), Sibu (1931)
  • Resident/District Office and Islamic Dept. Building (Bangunan Pejabat Residen dan Daerah Miri, dan Jabatan Agama Islam),Miri  (1913)


  • Sultan Tengah Mausoleum (Makam Sultan Tengah), Santubong


  • Bongkissam, Tantric Shrine, Santubong  (970 AD)
  • Sungai Jaong (Batu Gambar site), Santubong
  • Bukit Maras, Santubong
  • Tajong Kubor, Santubong
  • Tanjong Tegok, Santubong)

[* Source: Sarawak Museum Department updated list forwarded to SHS on 8 September 2021]

The 24 items gazetted on 2019 were approved to be gazetted in June 2007. They are so far the only items gazetted under the Srawak Cultural Heritage ordinance 1993.
As of September 2021, the Sarawak Museum Department had an internal administration list of 41 further items proposed to be gazetted. Some of these have been proposed since 2008.

Sarawak-specific provisions on heritage/historical buildings:

Design Guidelines and Standards for Development  and  Redevelopment of Class Ii and III Heritage Buildings in Sarawak” (2023, 40 pp.). Ref.  State Planning Authority, Ministry of Natural Resources and Urban Development Circular 2/2023 CIRCULAR NO.2-2023, which took effect on 5 May 2023. The guidelines appear to be partly based on the draft ‘Conservation Guidelines for Kuching Shophouses” prepared by PELITA in 1992 – see below.

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

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.



The Malaysia National Heritage Act 2005 regulates heritage at national level.

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). [Summary: National Heritage Act 2005].

For the stock of  gazetted heritage items at national level, see the Jabatan Warisan Negara (National Heritage Department) website (list only published in Bahasa Malaysia).

An Badan Warisan Malaysia web article   (Heritage of Malaysia Trust, an NGO) informed on heritage items listed up to October 2018.

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