Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik (second from left) with Heritage Department Commissioner Datuk Dr Zainah Ibrahim (right) and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Global Archaeological Research Centre director Professor Datuk Dr Mokhtar Saidin (fourth from right) after officiating the 2018 National Archaeological Seminar. NSTP/ Ramdzan Masiam

GEORGE TOWN: Some 149 places and items nationwide will make it into the national heritage list on Oct 17.

These include the Penang Free School (PFS), the Kapitan Keling Mosque and the literary works of legendary Malaysian film director, actor, singer, songwriter, composer and producer, the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee.

Founded in 1816, PFS is the the oldest English-medium school in Southeast Asia, while the Kapitan Keling Mosque was built in the 19th century by Indian Muslim traders in George Town.

Deputy Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said it was not easy getting a place or item in the national heritage list as it needed the approval from the respective state governments.

He said some states were quite slow in giving the nod.

“That is why we (the Federal Government) need to work closely with the respective states to get their consent,” he told newsmen today after officiating the 2018 National Archaeological Seminar, here.

Present were Heritage Department Commissioner Datuk Dr Zainah Ibrahim and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Global Archaeological Research Centre director Professor Datuk Dr Mokhtar Saidin.

Zainah said there were 965 archaeological sites in the country where 822 were on land and 143 were under water.

Of the total, only 13 are gazetted as national heritage sites and another eight are gazetted as heritage sites under the National Heritage Act 205.

She said this is why the national heritage department is proposing to list 149 more places and items on Oct 17.

Meanwhile, Bakhtiar said Malaysia has earmarked four tentative sites as potential World Heritage sites under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

The four are the National Park (Taman Negara) of Peninsular Malaysia which encompasses Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu, Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) Selangor Forest Park, Gombak Selangor Quartz Ridge and the Royal Belum State Park in Perak.

The country currently has four World Heritage sites – the Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak, the Kinabalu Park in Sabah, the Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley in Perak and the Melaka and George Town Historic Cities of the Straits of Melaka.

“Unesco is evaluating the four sites but there may be challenges. Take the National Park as an example, it needs the approval from all three states, something which the authorities have been pursuing for the last 10 years but to no avail.

“We hope the three states can give their approval so that we can pursue the matter,” he added.

Bakhtiar said Malaysia would bank on its archaeo-tourism attractions to attract more affluent and quality tourists into the country, including those from Europe, Korea and Japan.