On the first day of 2015, The Star newspaper recalled, in an article, the criteria used by Malaysia’s National Heritage Department for the listing of heritage buildings, in application of the Malaysia National Heritage Act 2005.

These are :

1) the historical importance, association with or relationship to Malaysian history;
2) the good design or aesthetic characteristic;
3) the scientific or technical innovations or achievements;
4) the social or cultural associations;
5) the potential to educate, illustrate or provide further scientific investigation in relation to Malaysian cultural heritage;
6) the importance in exhibiting a richness, diversity or unusual integration of features;
7) the rarity or uniqueness of the natural heritage, tangible or intangible cultural heritage or underwater cultural heritage;
8) the representative nature of a site or object as part of a class or type of a site or object; and
9) any other matter which is relevant to the determination of cultural heritage significance.

(quoted from the above-mentioned article)

The question of the criteria used – or to be used –  for listing/gazetting heritage buildings is an important one.

For Sarawak, SHS’s understanding is that Malaysia’s National Heritage Act 2005 is not in operation in the State and that Sarawak’s heritage matters are governed by the Sarawak Cultural Heritage Ordinance 1993.

The latter mentions the following – less specific- criteria for the listing of heritage buildings as historical monuments:

Buildings     (a) pre-1940, of historical significance; or    (b) “of special architectural, artistic or cultural interest or beauty”; or    (c) “closely associated or connected with a person or event important to the history of Sarawak,     that in the opinion of the Director [of the Sarawak Museum] ought to be retained as a cultural
heritage for the benefit of the people.”

The Star article also reminds us that, under the Malaysia National Heritage Act, any person may apply to the National Heritage Department to designate a building/site as heritage. Implicitly, such application is also possible in Sarawak, the authority being in this case the Director of the Sarawak Museum.

So… let us know if you have, on you watchlist, specific Sarawak buildings – or part of buildings- that are not yet protected and that may qualify for listing.

Comments or Suggestions welcome.

[for the current list of Sarawak’s gazetted/proposed heritage buildings,  see our page on Sarawak’s cultural heritage regulatory framework]