Carcosa Seri Negara in Kuala Lumpur

KUALA LUMPUR: CARCOSA and Seri Negara have been rented out to a 100 per cent Malaysian social enterprise, Asian Heritage Museum Sdn Bhd, as an Artefacts Trading and Performing (ATP) Arts Centre.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the tenancy of the heritage buildings, which were under his ministry’s purview, included the staging of Asian martial arts, galleries and an educational history tour.

“A decision was taken to rent Carcosa Seri Negara out to a genuine pro-heritage Malaysian group promoting heritage activities with the fullest respect to the heritage status of the buildings.

“Hence, we decided to rent out these buildings (Carcosa and Seri Negara) to Asian Heritage Museum Sdn Bhd for an Artefacts Trading and Performing Arts Centre,” he said yesterday.

“The ATP aims to be a world-class international Asian artefacts trading and performing arts centre of excellence.”

Wan Junaidi said the ministry, as the site custodian, wished to clarify two issues that had been the subject of concern among the public.

“Firstly, on whether the heritage status of the property is under threat as alleged and secondly, the alleged improper use of the property.”

He was responding to allegations circulating on social media that the buildings had been rented to a Chinese company as an office and that the heritage status of the two buildings might be threatened.

“The land belongs to the Federal Government and comes under the purview of the Federal Land Commissioner and Natural Resources and Environment Ministry,” Wan Junaidi said, adding that Carcosa and Seri Negara had been rented for use as upmarket hotels, but the venture failed.

Hence, to capitalise on its heritage value, various engagements had taken place with government agencies to explore the best way to move forward, he said.

He said the buildings were not in good condition after their previous use as hotels.

“Thus, through this tenancy agreement, we believe these buildings will be preserved and conserved to reflect the site’s heritage status.”

Wan Junaidi said the company must comply with the policy related to the conservation and preservation of heritage under the National Act 2005 and conditions imposed by local authorities.

He said the tenancy would be terminated immediately if there was non-compliance with conditions stated in the offer letter, and any renovation and structural alterations were not allowed by the government.

To further assure that the status of the site remained intact as a national heritage site, Wan Junaidi was appointed as the honorary adviser.

Carcosa Seri Negara comprises two stately bungalows, Carcosa and Seri Negara. Their construction began in 1896.

Carcosa Seri Negara opened in 1913 as the official guest house for the governor of the Straits Settlement and was later referred to as King’s House. It was the official residence of the first resident-general to the Federated Malay States, Sir Frank Swettenham.

When Malaysia gained independence in 1957, Carcosa remained the property of the British government until 1987.

Since 1989, both properties had been leased to Landmark Hotels and Realty Sdn Bhd on a 10-year renewable contract basis.

Since 2004, it had been managed by General Hotel Management Ltd (GHM).

The second 10-year lease expired on Dec 31, 2009, after which it was closed for refurbishment.

However, Seri Negara alone commenced operation in January 2010, under Carcosa Seri Negara.