The mansion in Jalan Tay Boon Seng in Klebang, Malacca, served as a pre-independence meeting place between Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Tan Cheng Lock. Pic by Muhammad Zuhairi Zuber

MALACCA: DEMOLITION work was halted on a historic building that once served as a pre-independence meeting place for Tunku Abdul Rahman.

The temporary stop-work order, issued yesterday by the Malacca Historical City Council, sought to clarify if the demolition had prior approval.

Council secretary Sheikh Mohd Nasir Sheikh Salim said it would get clarification from the owners of the building in Jalan Tay Boon Seng here.

“Whether it is a government-owned building or privately owned, any proposal to demolish a heritage building must obtain consent from the council.

“The council will thereafter seek advice from technical agencies before approving it,” he said.

Clearing works around the building began on Dec 23 and a visit to the site yesterday saw the rear of the mansion was partially demolished.

The building was a retreat and meeting place between the first prime minister and Chinese leaders led by Tun Tan Cheng Lock before independence.

It was first owned by Peranakan Chinese community figures Tay Boon Seng and Loh Kim Swi.

The mansion was also once turned into a restaurant, but was eventually abandoned and had gradually deteriorated.

Klebang assemblyman Datuk Lim Ban Hong said the demolition of the mansion was regretful because it had historical value.

“I hope the owners can preserve and maintain the building,” Lim said, adding that he was informed that the demolition was not approved.

Lim said he had called for a meeting between representatives of the mansion’s owner and the council’s conservation unit to discuss options by next week.

“We will see what can be done according to laws and regulations,” Lim added. 

The owners’ niece, Fiona Tan, 46, said her uncles “are agreeable to Perzim (Malacca Museum Corporation) drawing up plans on the mansion.”

Workers at the site claimed they were ordered to clear the surroundings of the house before demolishing the main building.

Perzim general manager Datuk Khamis Abas had said the department had not received notification of plans to demolish the mansion. 

“Perzim is only engaging university students to help draw up plans on heritage buildings in the state for record keeping, just in case the building is demolished by the owners,” said Khamis. 

“Any building that is more than 50 years old is considered a heritage building, although the building is outside of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation core and buffer zones.”

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