Ministry seeks allocation to develop Sungai Batu into historical tourism site

Director of Centre for Global Archaeological Research, Professor Datuk Dr Mokhtar Saidin gives an explanation to world renowned archeologists at the Sungai Batu ancient site in Sungai Petani, May 20, 2016. ― Bernama pic
Director of Centre for Global Archaeological Research, Professor Datuk Dr Mokhtar Saidin gives an explanation to world renowned archeologists at the Sungai Batu ancient site in Sungai Petani, May 20, 2016. ― Bernama pic

SUNGAI PETANI, May 21 ― The Ministry of Tourism and Culture will discuss and obtain an allocation to develop the more than 2,000 years old Sungai Batu-Lembah Bujang archaeological site into a leading tourist destination in Southeast Asia.

Its deputy minister, Datuk Mas Ermiyati Samsuddin said, the allocation includes a provision for research and excavation work at these location that is now somewhat limited due to lack of funds.

“We feel this is definitely the best time to develop the area and we will make sure a meeting between the minister and Kedah state government would be arranged soon to discuss this.

“The allocation is important and necessary for the Sungai Batu site in order to obtain better returns from the tourism product we believe in. Therefore, the ministry is not afraid to invest in it,” she told reporters after launching the Kedah Tua International Conference here, today. 

Also present were Kedah Religious Affairs, Tourism, Heritage and Public Works Committee chairman Datuk Mohd Rawi Abdul Hamid, National Heritage Department Commissioner Dr Zainah Ibrahim and Universiti Sains Malaysia Centre for Global Archaeological Research director, Prof Datuk Dr Mokhtar Saidin.   

Yesterday, Mohd Rawi hoped the Federal government would increase the allocation of RM5 million to RM10 million annually to manage the infrastructure in Bujang Valley, as at currently the central government only allocates RM500,000 yearly to Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) to carry out research work and excavation.

Mas Ermieyati said she is confident the old Kedah Tua civilisation is capable of becoming one of the leading tourist destinations that can attract many foreign tourists, hence the state government and tourism agents are required get ready to promote it.

The two-day conference commenced today jointly organised by the Centre for Global Archaeological Research (CGAR) USM, the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority, Department of National Heritage, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the Kedah State Government, the Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (MITA) and Malaysian Institute of Architects.

The conference, held in conjunction with the Kedah Tua Festival 2016 (FKT2016) will also focus on the importance of archeology in the Bujang Valley and make a comparison between all the world's major civilisations from the sixth century BC to 12th century AD.

Earlier, Mas Ermieyati who represented Tourism and Culture minister Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz in officiating the conference, read out a speech by him.  

In the speech Nazri said, that after more than 170 years of research in Bujang Valley, the time had come to introduce and acknowledge Bujang Valley especially Sungai Batu at the international level.

“Based on the current research, Sungai Batu has a significant role in world civilisation. It is proved through scientific findings that the Sungai Batu civilisation was economically based on the iron industry, it has international trade relations with other civilisations of the world.

“Eventually, it will be nominated to the international level and when it is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it will grow as a Malaysian archaeological tourist destination and will be developed in a sustainable manner for future generations,” said Nazri. ― Bernama

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