Malaysian Senate president: Preservation of cultural heritage important as testament to national identity

President of Malaysian Senate Datuk Mutang Tagal thanked the government of Azerbaijan for warm welcome at the 6th World Forum of Intercultural Dialogue held in Baku.

He noted that understanding cultural heritage is crucial to appreciating its significance, guided by the standards of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) under UNESCO.

"UNESCO defines cultural heritage as the legacy of tangible and intangible elements inherited from past generations, maintained in the present, and bestowed for the future. This encompasses physical artifacts like monuments and archaeological sites, as well as traditions and languages. Preserving and promoting cultural heritage is vital for fostering diversity, dialogue, and mutual understanding globally," Tagal said.

He underlined the significance of preservation of cultural heritage as a testament to national identity and rich history.

"Malaysia, with its diverse cultures and traditions, is committed to preserving and promoting this heritage to sustain our unity and diversity," Tagal said adding that in its dedication to advance Malaysia's cultural heritage policies through parliamentary actions, the House of the Senate has established a Special Select Committee on Social and Community Affairs.

"This committee focuses on reviewing legislation and documents related to cultural activities. Internationally, Malaysia champions cultural diversity and heritage conservation, sharing our strategies and learning from global experiences at various conferences. Internationally, Malaysia actively promotes cultural diversity and heritage conservation, sharing our policies and best practices and learning from other nations at conferences," he said.

The Malaysian Senate speaker noted that Malaysia enacted robust laws, like the National Heritage Act, to preserve our cultural heritage, underscored by both sustainable development and strong legal frameworks that are emphasized domestically and internationally.

"Furthermore, the Malaysian National Cultural Policy sets a clear vision and strategy to enrich Malaysia culturally. It identifies seven key areas, including High-Value Culture and Community Harmony, which guide the development of Malaysia's arts, culture, and heritage sectors. These sectors are seen as catalysts for socio-economic growth," he said.

Tagal stressed that the Government of Malaysia actively implements the Malaysian National Cultural Policy, which clearly outlines a vision, mission, and strategy dedicated to transforming Malaysia into a culturally rich nation.

"It emphasizes seven key areas: High-Value Culture, Community Harmony, Preservation and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, Cultural Development and Advancement, Cultural Empowerment, Cultural Economic Generation, and Cultural Excellence. This policy not only guides the development of Malaysia’s arts, culture, and heritage sectors but also aligns these sectors as catalysts for socio-economic growth," he said.

According to him, in order to achieve these objectives, the government of Malaysia developed a detailed cultural plan consisting of 39 strategies and 95 action plans, scheduled from 2021 to 2025.

"These plans support our policy's main areas, driving our efforts to fulfill Malaysia's cultural aspirations," Tagal said.

"Our policy framework emphasizes sustainable development, education, and community involvement as central to cultural heritage preservation. These efforts support key pillars of our policy, concerning Preservation and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, Cultural Development and Advancement, and Cultural Empowerment.

Malaysia prioritizes sustainable development in our heritage conservation efforts, a critical component of the Preservation and Conservation of Cultural Heritage pillar. We balance modern development with the protection of our cultural heritage through responsible urban planning, adaptive reuse of historic buildings, and eco-friendly practices. These sustainable approaches help preserve our heritage sites, ensuring they remain vibrant and intact for future generations while also benefiting the socio-economic well-being of local communities," Tagal said.

He stressed the importance of education, awareness, and community involvement are key to appreciating and preserving cultural heritage, central to Cultural Empowerment efforts.

"Through educational programs, conservation initiatives, and public campaigns, we teach Malaysians about the importance of our heritage sites. These activities encourage citizens, especially local communities, to actively engage and take ownership of their cultural legacies, ensuring their preservation for future generations. These initiatives align with the overarching goals of our policy, aiming to promote a high-value culture and enhance community harmony," he said.

Tagal also stressed Malaysia's dedication to international cooperation in heritage conservation.

"We engage with global entities like UNESCO and ASEAN, sharing best practices and enhancing our conservation strategies. This collaboration enriches our heritage management and promotes sustainable development," he noted.

"Malaysia proudly hosts four UNESCO World Heritage Sites recognized for their cultural and natural significance: the historic cities of Melaka and George Town in the Straits of Malacca, the Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley, Kinabalu Park in Sabah, and Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak. As for UNESCO-AHPADA (ASEAN Handicraft Promotion & Development Association) Seal of Excellence, seven (7) Malaysian crafts have been listed: Decorated round container (Bekelalan), Bamboo container (Kemian), Pua Kumbu, Iban Apok Sog Aleh, Orang Asli Moyang Harimau Berantai, Mah Meri Kusyen Bemban (cushion) and silk," he said.

In conclusion, Tagal said that protecting cultural heritage is more than a responsibility; it is a sacred duty.

"As legislators, we are committed to preserving our heritage, thereby upholding the essence of our nation and celebrating our diversity. Let us continue to cherish and safeguard our cultural heritage, ensuring it remains a source of pride and inspiration for generations to come," he said.

Search in archive