Why doesn't our ancient past get Unesco status?

LETTERS: Recently, a politician proposed that more than 70 new Chinese villages be gazetted as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) protected sites in Selangor and other states.

There is nothing wrong with this proposal, but we should be looking at colonial and post-colonial creations as heritage sites.

The Bujang Valley in Kedah contains the remains of more than 1,000 years of history. But this rich ancient historical site has not been listed under Unesco.

In Penang, the area around Guar Kepah contains remnants of the Neolithic period, about 6,000 years ago.

The recent discovery of the skeletal remains of the "first Penang Woman", who died about 5,700 years ago, attests to the magnificence of ancient history.

In Perak, the remains of the "first Perak Man", who died about 8,000 years ago, were discovered.

I am not sure whether these and other pre-historical sites have obtained the recognition of Unesco and other heritage bodies.

Recognising the British colonial features, such as buildings, are important but not so important as the ancient historical features of the country.

There are only two Unesco sites in Peninsular Malaysia — Melaka and George Town.

Beyond this, despite the brilliant contributions of archaeologists and historians, pre-colonial history is shrouded in mystery.

The long process of nation-building is more than citizens coming together for a common purpose. It is also Malaysians recognising the grandeur of our history.

Right now, there must be a national endeavour to identify and recognise the past because of its significance to the present.

The country might have been liberated from colonialism, but the "colonial mind" is still very much a part of us.

Liberating the colonial mind is an act of discovery of the splendour of the past stretching to time immemorial.

I hope that we will adopt a broader attitude to examine the country's ancient past.


Kuala Lumpur

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

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