01 June 2016

Bujang Valley - Unesco Criteria



I append below the unfounded claims by Prof Mokhtar Saidin, Universiti Sains Malaysia Centre for Global Archaeological Research director and that I take objection to that:

• Bujang Valley stands no chance of being gazetted by Unesco as there is no scientific research to date to verify that the temple ruins were Hindu or Buddhist...

• Animism rather than Hinduism or Buddhism was the dominant form of worship in the Bujang Valley more than 2,500 years ago. 

Prof Mokhtar Saidin

We suspect Prof Mokhtar is promoting the larger agenda of hidden hands to rewrite the history of Malaysia and erase the truth from the minds of Malaysians on the rich heritage of Hindu Buddhist culture that existed in prehistoric Malaya. 

To claim a need for scientific research to be recognised as world heritage by Unesco is a complete false statement made with deliberate intent to prevent and deceive a rich heritage and culture to obtain international recognition. 


The criteria required for selection as World Heritage List. A site is qualified if it is of outstanding universal value and meets at least one of the following 10 selection criteria. I say at least one...

Selection criteria
(i) to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;

(ii) to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;

(iii) to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;

(iv) to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;

(v) to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;

(vi) to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);

(vii) to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;

(viii) to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;

(ix) to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;

(x) to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

I refer to http://whc.unesco.org/en/criteria/

Prof Mokhtar is either misleading or genuinely ignorant of the Unesco criteria set by the International body. The Star Online quoted Prof Mokhtar on 2016 May 23 that the Hindu-Buddhist temple ruins of Bujang Valley will not be nominated as a Unesco heritage site because of the lack of chronometric evidence. This statement holds no basis when compared to the criteria set by Unesco.

It is also reported in 1987, a Unesco team from Paris visited Lembah Bujang and recommended that the whole area be protected. Alas the authorities have not reacted perhaps... for not wanting to recognise the Hindu Buddhist past of Malaya.

Those authorities supposed to be indulged in a loyal manner. But have not taken any positive steps in listing the Bujang Valley with Unesco by preparing the necessary inventory. The inventory known as the Tentative List. And also the authorities have not presented a nomination file as per basic requirements of Unesco. To your info much excavation work has been done in  Bujang Valley right from the British colonial period.

We call on the Malaysia Government to stop relying on local archaeological researches and instead engage consultants from the International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) who are accredited to provide the World Heritage Committee with evaluations on the cultural and natural sites nominated. 

I was shocked to find out that Bujang Valley (Lembah Bujang) in Malaysia was not even gazetted as a historical monument. And recently it seemed, a developer was allowed to demolish some of the chandi/temples to make way for a housing estate... the infamy of it is unbelievable.

Researchers from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) have announced that bricks from a newly excavated jetty complex, uncovered at the Bujang Valley have been dated to the 5th Century BCE. A report from the Korea Basic Science Institute in South Korea which tested samples from four sections of the jetty using OSL dating technique has dated them to 487 BC.

OSL or Optically Stimulated Luminiscence dating technique is used to date items which are inorganic such as bricks, ceramics, glass, sediments.

As for the Bujang Valley, one can only hope that the authorities finally recognise it for what it is: Malaysia's most ancient cultural heritage. Apparently, the documentation must have been completed to obtain  recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Both Malacca and Georgetown, Penang were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 7 July 2008.

Without doubt the Bujang Valley deserves to be recognised as a unique UNESCO World Heritage Site as well? In fact, it should have been the first to obtain recognition. I hope the largest chandis which were demolished by bulldozers will be restored and the entire site protected.

More factual article from https://www.facebook.com/savebujangvalley
https://bujangvalleybook.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/bujang-valley-the-wonder-that-was-ancient-kedah-a-book-by-v-nadarajan/

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