GEORGE TOWN, Jan 16 ― Penang is in discussions with the Tourism and Culture Ministry to set up funding in a bid to preserve priceless historical documents and artifacts in the country, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today.
He said the state government is collaborating with the ministry in this as minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz is supportive of efforts to safeguard and preserve local historical documents.
“We are waiting for the ministry to announce this and I will also follow up with the ministry to come up with something concrete on this,” he told reporters after officiating the opening of Colonial Penang Museum here today.
The Bagan MP said historical documents are especially vulnerable and are also easily acquired by foreign collectors with a higher purchasing power.
He believed a lot of Malaysia's historical documents and artifacts are already long lost, having been sold off to the highest bidder overseas.
“These are important historical documents that should rightly belong in our country because once it's taken out of the country, it will be very difficult to get it back,” he said.
He pointed at 200-year-old document signed by Francis Light that is displayed at the Colonial Penang Museum.
“I appreciate the effort by the museum owner, Eric Ma, in keeping this in Malaysia and refusing to sell it when approached by interested collectors from overseas,” he said.
Other than funding efforts to keep historical documents here, the Penang state government is looking to launch a massive project to study Penang's full history based on existing historical documentations, books and records.
Lim said the state government will be working with local private collectors of historical documents, books, records and artifacts for the project.
He is certain that there are many private collectors who are willing to cooperate in the project for a comprehensive study.
The project is still being finalised and it will be announced once it is ready to be launched, Lim added.