GEORGE TOWN, Dec 2 — The Kedah state government has asked the developer to stop work at a Lembah Bujang site where a prehistoric temple ruin was demolished, to allow the matter to be investigated.
Responding to questions on the issue that has outraged Malaysians, Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir told a press conference that he instructed the Kedah state executive councillor for Education, Transport and Public Works Datuk Tajul Urus Md Zin to speak to the developer of the project.
“I have asked him to ask for the developer’s co-operation to stop work for now and I was told that they have complied and clearing works are temporarily stopped,” he said after launching a hospital ward at the Kedah Medical Centre in Alor Setar earlier today.
He added that he needed to get a full report on what had happened at Sungai Batu and to discuss with all parties involved before he could comment further on this issue.
“It looks like there are two different views on this issue so it is better that I get the latest information on this before I issue any official statement,” Mukhriz said.
He emphasised that the developer was not issued with a stop-work order, but was only asked to co-operate, which it did.
On Sunday, The Malay Mail Online reported the destruction of candi number 11 based on a site visit by Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Prof Dr P. Ramasamy.
Candi number 11, located at Sungai Batu within Lembah Bujang, is one of the 10 reconstructed temple ruins that dated back to the 8th century.
The rich archaeological sites in Lembah Bujang were first discovered by British colonists back in the 1840s and efforts to reconstruct parts of it were commissioned back in 1974.
Since then, researchers and archaeologists have found more candi located all over the Lembah Bujang and a recent study by Universiti Sains Malaysia revealed that there are 127 archaeological sites in Kedah with over 90 candi in Lembah Bujang.
Many sites are still in the midst of being excavated and a team from the USM Centre for Global Archaeological Research (CGAR) also has a base there excavating and researching some of the sites in the valley.
When contacted, CGAR director Professor Dr Mokhtar Saidin confirmed that he will be meeting with the Kedah state government officials to discuss this issue and also to propose for similar areas to be preserved for heritage and tourism.