Yesterday, Prime Minister Badawi allocated RM 50 million fund for conservation work for the World Heritage Cities of Melaka and Georgetown in his Budget 2009. Compared to an overall budget of RM 209 billion, this amount is certainly a drop in an ocean.
Moreover, the amount is to be divided with Melaka and Georgetown. Conservation work and renovating heritage buildings are not cheap and involves specialised expertise. Hopefully, this allocation is just the beginning for Malaysia in recognising the importance of preserving our heritage for future generations.
I remember once some VIP mentioned that preserving old buildings is not progressive. They should be demolished and newer buildings must be built to replace them. How wrong these comments are. These old buildings with their unique characters reflect the architectural designs of their times and should be preserved.
Build newer buildings by all means BUT ensure that they are built outside the core heritage areas. Visitors to our heritage cities want to see unique buildings and cultures. They certainly do not want to see skyscrapers like theirs at home. If they want to see these skyscrapers,they can do so back in their own backyard.
Singapore has destroyed their heritage buildings during the building frenzy in 1970s and 1980s and they are regretting it. Bras Basah Road had elegant colonial buildings but they were bulldozed. Similarly, Hong Kong followed the same course on their buildings. Luckily, the Hong Kong authorities have maintained the Hong Kong Tram system.
The past can certainly co-exist with the present and we should preserve them for the future. Food for thought.