Candi controversy: Heritage body hits out at developer

(The Star) – The Malaysian Heritage Trust (Badan Warisan) has hit out at the developer who allegedly destroyed the eighth-century candi in Bujang Valley, saying he should rebuild it if he has “any guilty conscience”.

Its president Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid said for the developer to plead ignorance was “no plea at all”.

“I’m very disappointed. It’s surprising that the developer could claim he didn’t know of its existence,” he said.

“He should pay to restore it if he has any guilty conscience,” Ahmad Sarji said in an interview after launching the book Chronicle of Malaysia 1963-2013 here yesterday.

Ahmad Sarji, who is Permodalan Nasional Bhd chairman, commended the Kedah government for issuing a stop work order and urged the relevant authorities to quickly declare the area a protected heritage site.

“Regulatory bodies must look into this issue and enforce the National Heritage Act,” he said.

Ahmad Sarji expressed regret that the destruction had took place despite the work carried out to restore the area previously.

The candi in Bujang Valley was allegedly unknowingly destroyed by a housing developer during land clearing.

Saw Guan Keat, the Bandar Saujana Sdn Bhd project manager, said he would have left the site alone if he had known.

The idea of rebuilding the site has been criticised by some, however.

“You can’t rebuild something so historical. It just makes no sense at all. It’s not as simple as that. You can’t undo the destruction of a historical site,” said a reader of The Star, who is from Kuala Lumpur and wished to remain anonymous.