Putrajaya’s Secret Garden

In the Putrajaya Botanical Gardens, there is the most remarkable Moroccan Pavillion. I found it by chance when I visited with my parents. It is stuck down in the corner, between the carpark and the lake and it is a total gem of Moroccan Islamic architecture, with several beautiful rooms around a courtyard. The RM3 entrance fee is most definitely worth it, and its almost worth driving all the way to Putrajaya just to see it. I could find out very little about its history, so please email me at lorienholland@me.com if you have any information.

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Malacca and Penang history…

Saturday July 24, 2010

Malacca and Penang: History in abundance

THE REAL ESTATE WITH ANGIE NG
angie@thestar.com.my

THE saying ‘Old is Gold’ certainly holds true for many things.

Among the things that appreciate over time are family relationships, friendships and the value of some tangible things like real estate.

Many so-called “city folks” in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya actually do not hail from the city; their hometowns are in other parts of the country.

Home is where the heart is and many of us have set up homes in places where we work, after settling down with our own family, and have children attending schools or colleges in the city.

The Malacca government has turned the once old and quiet Jonker Street into the now vibrant and ‘happening’ Jonker Walk.

With passing time and wisdom, we learn to appreciate our loved ones better.

And despite the “rat race” of city life, it is important to stay connected with our loved ones and old friends back in the kampung or in other places.

Likewise in the built environment, we can find many undiscovered gems around, which, in spite of their old physical exterior, are actually hidden treasures with strong history and many untold stories within their walls.

The first thing that comes to mind is the many pre-war houses and buildings that can be found in large numbers in the inner cities of Penang and Malacca.

Despite being old and dilapidated, many have the potential to be restored and given a new lease of life.

Some of the ways to reuse these buildings and “monetise” them include turning them into museums, heritage hotels, alfresco dining and restaurants specialising in local fares.

It is interesting to compare Penang and Malacca as they share many similar traits and history.

Both will benefit by learning from each other new ways to improve and manage their built and unbuilt environment.

Since my other half is a Malaccan, I must admit that I tend to compare my hometown, Penang’s George Town, with Malacca whenever I’m back for holidays or family events.

After all, both have been declared Unesco World Heritage Sites and have many interesting buildings and structures that are reminiscent of their rich history and heritage.

Penang and Malacca are both former Straits Settlement states with a long history of early settlers from various parts of the world converging there for trade.

And both are renowned for their Baba/Nyonya culture and heritage.

Being port states, both also have strong foreign connection and influence.

Penang was a bastion of trade for the English and the East India Company after it was founded by Captain Francis Light in 1786, while Malacca was a confluence of Portuguese, Dutch and English influence.

Those influences can still be clearly seen in the architecture of the buildings today.

It is evident that both Penang and Malacca have their own distinctive assets and attractions that have endeared them to many loyal visitors who throng the cities in droves whenever there is a long stretch of holidays.

This could be one of the reasons for the traffic-choked roads during the holiday season and major festivities.

It is common to find many outstation cars among the long lines of cars on the roads during such times.

To give a boost to their intrinsic value as natural tourist attractions, there is a need to improve the public transport system in the two heritage cities to ensure that the different modes of transport are well integrated and connected to each other.

Being on the radar screen of tourists is one thing, but it is equally important to ensure that visitors have convenient access to a good public transport network.

More should also be done to further boost the alluring old world charms of these cities while at the same time, revitalise the inner cities and keep them alive as living heritage.

To achieve this, the old and new attractions and facilities should co-exist and blend seamlessly with one another to make them relevant and refreshing to the people.

Malacca has made some interesting headway in this regard with many old buildings and “once quiet” historical enclaves being given a new lease of life.

One just needs to hop over to the happening and vibrant Jonker Walk, which comes alive every evening, teeming with traders and visitors.

Penangites can certainly take a leaf from their Malaccan counterparts to liven up George Town’s dilapidated inner city.

Deputy news editor Angie Ng is keeping her fingers crossed that the old and new charms of our cities will be the pride of our present and future generations.

New Museum in Kelantan

Kelantan to build wau museum in Bachok

2010/07/20

// BACHOK: Kelantan, home of the country’s traditional kites or wau, will finally get its own kite museum next year.State Local Government, Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said it would be housed temporarily in a government quarters until a permanent building was constructed.

“We felt is appropriate that a kite museum be built in the state as the wau is well known locally and internationally. It will be able to attract visitors as there are many kite fans around the world.
“Bachok has been chosen to house the museum as it will be the new permanent site for the annual Kelantan International Kite Festival.

“The wau will also become the district’s icon and used widely to promote Bachok,” he said after the closing of the Kelantan Invitational Kite Festival at Pantai Irama here on Sunday. Deputy Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yaakob represented Menteri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat at the ceremony.

Takiyuddin said the museum would showcase the many types of wau from the state, besides kites and accessories from all over the world.
“We have many wau enthusiasts who are keen to hand their collections to the museum.”

On the kite festival at Pantai Irama, Takiyuddin said it was not opened to participants from other countries this year as it was held for the first time there and the organisers were uncertain of the infrastructure and other facilities.

“Even though it was not opened to international participants, we managed to attract nearly 300 people from all over the country.
“However, we hope to organise it on a grander scale next and extend our invitation overseas. Last year, we managed to attract participants from 20 countries,” he said.

Kelantan emerged overall champion in the four day competition which started on July 15.

Jewel Muscat in Port Klang

Wednesday June 30, 2010

Traditionally-built ship pays a call on Port Klang

By EDWARD R. HENRY
edward@thestar.com.my

SALEH Al Jabri, the captain of the Jewel of Muscat, was filled with delight as the replica of a 9th century dhow, or merchant sailing vessel, arrived in Port Klang as part of a five-month journey from Sultan Qaboos port in Oman to Singapore.

“Our crew of 17 men were courageous and we all pulled together to brave the treacherous waters, torrential rain and blistering heat.

“Our biggest test was when we crossed the Bay of Bengal on the way to Penang,” said the skipper who has 25-years of experience with the Omani navy.

Long journey: Saleh takes a break with the Jewel of Muscat in the background.

The Jewel of Muscat is an exact replica of the a 9th century Arab ship found shipwrecked off the coast of Indonesia in 1998 and it was hand-built with timber-and-coconut rope with not a single nail used.

Saleh, 41, said the wind was the main cause for concern throughout the journey but his 17-member crew steered the boat in a careful, calculated manner.

The ship is a joint project between the Omani and Singaporean governments and set sail from Oman on Feb 16.

It was conceived as a historical and cultural exchange after Singapore bought over 60,000 pieces of Chinese pottery that were found on the shipwrecked Arab boat off Belitung, Indonesia, over a decade ago.

Saleh said the aim of the journey was to replicate the ancient traders as closely as possible and it meant not using any modern navigational, cooking or household appliances and devices.

For the father of four, the most difficult task was keeping a look out for cargo ships and the thousands of small fishing boats they encountered on the way.

The Jewel of Muscat wiil be docked at Port Klang until June 27 before sailing off to its final destination in Singapore.

Upon arrival in the Lion City, the ship will be presented to the Singaporean people as a gift from the Sultanate of Oman.

Rattan mats in danger

Getting to know your kasah

Story and photos by KERNI PUAH
sarawakstar@thestar.com.my

THE kasah or Bidayuh rattan mats are considered as works of art and fetch high prices due to a rise in demand.

However, this Bidayuh mat-making heritage is dying slowly as the new generation has no interest in learning the art.

Because of this, the kasah is being overtaken by mats from Kalimantan.

New design: Hadran showing the kasah sagah emas.

It is the most-sought-after item at the Serikin weekend market near Serian, especially among visitors from Peninsular Malaysia.

But as the mats become part of a lucrative business, their quality has declined noticeably.

The Indonesian traders seem to be out to make a fast buck due to the demand.

In the old days, when the mats were not highly valued or sought after, the craftsmanship was superior. The Bidayuhs used the mats to dry harvested padi in the sun.

The mats sold at the Serikin market is not as durable to the real kasah and should rightly be called tikar Kalimantan.

Hadran: He sells the rattan mats at the Serikin weekend market.

Buyers should learn how to tell between a good and poor-quality rattan mat.

The highest-quality mat is the sagah emas which can last between 20 to 30 years, depending on how it is used. Another type of mat is made from a low-quality rattan called kelasah, which can break easily and is not durable.

Buyers should also know of the reasonable prices for the mat, so that they don’t get ripped off.

Usually, a 10 x 12 feet mat made from sagah rattan is sold for between RM180 and RM250 a piece.

A rattan mat trader at the Serikin market said recently the mat producers had come op with a new design which could fetch up to RM250 a piece.

Trader Hadran Effendi from Seluas in West Kalimantan said the lowest price for a sagah emas mat measuring 7 x 10 feet was RM200.

Mats made of kelasah measuring 7 x 10 feet would cost about RM120 each.

On a normal weekend, there are about 12 rattan mat traders in Serikin.

Due to the brisk business, each trader rakes in thousands of ringgit in sales every weekend.

Some of them are specially weaved with black-dyed rattan.

Hadran said the colour was extracted from a wild plant called daun anyam.

He said the rattan was boiled with the daun anyam and the sap from the plant turned the rattan black.

The black rattan is used to produce designs on the kasah mats.

Home decorations: A shop in Serikin selling various rattan products including baskets.

On how to take care of a mat, Hadran said that varnish should not be applied and it should not be washed with water and detergents.

“The finished product belies the challenges of gathering the rattan. It can be arduous and dangerous and the processing is hard work,” he added.

In the jungle, the gatherers pull down the rattan in coils and sometimes dislodge wasp and ant nests. They also risk being lacerated by its spines and barbed whips. The leaves and leaf sheaves are removed by pulling them around or over a tree trunk.

While the women split the rattan, the mat weaving is usually done by the men. In the past, it was done between the rice planting seasons.

The unique design is achieved by laying split strips of rattan of about one centimetre wide, side by side. The strips are pierced and bound by braiding them with rattan fibre.

To secure the edge, the ends of the strips are crushed and plaited into a decorative border. The mats can be rolled but never folded.

A creatively woven mat will have designs that are spectacular, although of only two colours — black and beige of the undyed fibre.

Rattan mats have stood the test of time and becoming popular with modern decorators and homemakers seeking unusual, beautiful and long-lasting floor coverings.

Terengganu Stone listed with UNESCO

Our heritage etched in world memory 2010/05/26 New Straits Times

 TWO of the country’s historical documents are being evaluated to be included under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s Memory of the World programme. The programme is aimed at preserving and disseminating valuable archive holdings and library collections worldwide. It facilitates the preservation of the world’s documentary heritage using the latest techniques and assists in universal access to documents. Heritage Commissioner Prof Datuk Dr Zuraina Majid said so far four of the country’s historical documents had been inscribed under the programme. “We have sent in two more documents for consideration this year and will know the result next year as documents are inscribed every two years.” The documents were recommended to Unesco as they were of world interest, she added. Locally, historical documents are preserved by several custodians, including the National Archives, National Library and Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. “The most recent document to be inscribed was Batu Bersurat Terengganu (Inscribed Stone of Terengganu) last year, and the custodian is the Terengganu Museum,” Zurina said. She said the department did not collect artefacts or documents as that was the role of the National Archives and Museums Department. “We only protect and preserve tangible, intangible and natural heritage. We also conserve important buildings and sites, create awareness and promote our heritage and nominate our heritage for world heritage inscriptions.” Museums Department director-general Datuk Ibrahim Ismail said historical artefacts were well-preserved at museums nationwide, including souvenirs given to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. “The Galeria Perdana in Langkawi houses the souvenirs and they are under conservation. Of course, the department has never sold off or given away its artefacts as they are valuable to the country.” He said besides the souvenir items, other artefacts related to Dr Mahathir’s life and his family were conserved at the Galeria Sri Perdana, run by the National Archives. Documents and artefacts belonging to other former prime ministers, such as Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, are kept in their memorials under the supervision of the National Archives. Ibrahim said the National Museum sometimes exhibited the artefacts abroad but ensured that all items were brought back home safely after the exhibitions. Read more: Our heritage etched in world memory http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/20sehva/Article/#ixzz0srx5GhaB

Heritage protection for neglected church

The Star: Saturday January 23, 2010 and March 20

MALACCA: The ruins of a 17th century church next to the Malacca

Ruins of the Ermida Do Rosario

River in Pangkalan Rama will finally get some protection from heritage authorities.

The Ermida do Rosario, or The Church of Rosary, was a Portuguese chapel built on the site of the Church of St Lawrence.

It was either destroyed or allowed to fall into ruins during the first decade of the Dutch occupation of Malacca in 1641 and was subsequently taken over by St Peter’s Church, which was erected nearby in 1710.

Sad state: Sim looking at the ruins of the Ermida do Rosario in Malacca Friday.

The National Heritage Department has allocated RM20,000 to carry out necessary work to give the historical site due recognition following the media highlighting the issue.

Heritage Commissioner Datuk Prof Zurina Abdul Majid said field work on the historical ruins would commence once the department finalised plans for the site.

Besides the site being used as a dumping ground, heavy machinery employed for the nearby proposed monorail project had resulted in damage to a section of the ruins.

Kota Melaka MP Sim Tong Him said he raised the issue of the site’s state of neglect in Parliament last December following numerous complaints by heritage conservationists.