Selangor eyes 2 Unesco heritage listings

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KUALA KUBU BHARU: The Selangor state government is pushing for the inclusion of two sites in the prestigious United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage List and will commence preliminary studies on the areas before seeking the federal government’s support on the matter.

According to Selangor state executive council member Elizabeth Wong, the two proposed world heritage sites identified in Selangor are Kuala Kubu Bharu (KKB) town here and the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge in the Ampang Forest Reserve, Kuala Lumpur.

“(The Unesco listing) is part of the state’s tourism plan but tourism has to also serve particular purposes. It’s not only about attracting tourists and making money. We want to work towards conservation and recording the local history.

“In the past, people were so keen on rapid development but here we have a fantastic town like KKB,” Wong told The Edge Financial Daily on the sidelines of the Selangor state government’s tree planting campaign in Batang Kali here on Thursday, April 22.
Earlier, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim launched the campaign to plant some 26 million trees in junction with Earth Day.

When asked, Khalid said he had informed Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah about the proposal and that the Sultan was “very excited” about the prospect of having two World Heritage listings in the state.

In July 2008, Unesco had accorded George Town, Penang and Melaka the sought-after World Heritage sites listing in recognition of the two cities’ historical and cultural features.

To a question, Wong said she was personally keen on seeking a heritage listing for Batu Caves and the surrounding orang asli areas, which was rich in Temuan legend and history.

Wong, in a recent statement, said that Kuala Kubu Bharu was worthy of a world heritage listing because it was designed by Malaya’s first town planner Charles Reade, based on the influential “garden city movement” school of urban planning.

Kuala Kubu Bharu was built in 1928 after floods destroyed the old district capital of Hulu Selangor. “While many garden cities in the world have been given heritage status, Kuala Kubu Bharu remains unrecognised,” Wong said in the statement.

The state government would commission two studies for the two proposed sites which could be completed in about one year, Wong said.

The first-term Bukit Lanjan assemblyman added that the state government had already decided to appoint Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) researchers to study the Quartz Ridge.

The state is still in negotiations with potential researchers for the study of Kuala Kubu Bharu town’s living and natural heritage with a view of making it a heritage town.

Wong, who heads the state’s tourism, consumer affairs and environment committee, said the state government would approach the federal government once the studies were completed as the sites needed the federal government’s nomination for the Unesco listing.

In the meantime, the state government was empowered to gazette an area as a heritage zone, and Wong noted that the Quartz Ridge already had three gazettes on it, namely as a water catchment, forest and wildlife zone.