In April 2014, I revisited Gua Tambun and conducted a preliminary Heritage Impact Assessment in order to identify all strands of threats that may compromise the integrity of this precious archaeological site. That was my second visit to Gua Tambun since 2008 and the results of my assessment were saddening:
The physical landscape settings of the cave are severely destroyed due to the illegal digging and quarrying.
The wall paintings are highly exposed to sun, rain and water, causing the premature deterioration and discolouration.
The cave is highly vandalized by graffiti and some old depictions have been superimposed by modern graffiti…”
And the list goes on.
Since then, I occasionally read from the news regarding the call for a petition to the authorities to save the Gua Tambun Rock Art. The responses from general public and the authorities, however, were fairly sporadic.
In June 2015, I decided to kickstart a heritage campaign – Gua Tambun Heritage Awareness Project (GTHAP) – to save the Tambun Rock Art through local conservation effort. It is the very first local community-driven heritage project launched in Gua Tambun in collaboration with Centre for Global Archaeological Research of Universiti Sains Malaysia. The project aims to promote public heritage awareness and incorporate public efforts in the conservation and long-term management of Gua Tambun. It also hopes to connect the local people and general public to Tambun’s prehistoric past and help conserve this cultural heritage for the people of Malaysia and the world. Under the initiatives of GTHAP, we envision the following:
To establish a Gua Tambun Prehistoric Rock Art Trail or Gua Tambun Heritage Walk, managed by local volunteers and local heritage guides.
To establish a local Tambun Heritage Watch.
To conduct heritage workshops at local level to encourage the local involvement as a means to empower the local community in the future delivery of the conservation and management planning of Gua Tambun.
To date, we have launched two community heritage walks in Gua Tambun and we hope to organise this at least once a week or once in every fortnight in the near future. In the next few weeks, we are going to establish a Tambun Heritage Watch, formed by local volunteers. Short training through workshops will be given to the volunteers to enable them to become local heritage guides.
Since the commencement of the project, GTHAP has been well received and we appreciated the support from many local NGOs and institutions, including Ipoh’s community newspaper, Ipoh Echo, Perak Heritage Society (PHS), Incitement Ipoh, Sunway College, Ipoh (SCI), Ipoh City Watch (ICW) and the Perak Women for Women Society (PWW).
For Ipohites who are interested to be part of us, please like and follow us on Facebook – Gua Tambun Heritage Awareness Project #GTHAP. You can find all information about this project on our Facebook page and we will keep you posted on the upcoming activities in Gua Tambun.
We are currently working on establishing a digital photo archive of Gua Tambun, and if any Ipohites would like to share with us the old photos of Gua Tambun, please contact us at +604 653 3357 or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Every effort matters and let’s work together to save the Tambun Rock Art.”
This is not just a bold statement! This is a message that needs to be heard.
So, join us today!