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Countdown to Perak’s Visit Year 2024: Is Perak Ready?

By: Aida Aziz

Ipoh, Malaysia – With just a few weeks remaining until the commencement of Visit Year 2024 (TMP2024), Perak is poised to attract a multitude of visitors.

Recognized for its abundant treasures and unique offerings, the state is a frequent destination for both domestic and international tourists.

However, the question arises: Is the state adequately prepared from the perspective of heritage and historical tourism? Are the sites and structures well-preserved?

Observations reveal that many heritage-rich buildings have been left neglected, succumbing to the ravages of time and, in some cases, crumbling due to a lack of maintenance. Key contributing factors include land ownership issues, inadequate promotion, and a lack of funding for preservation efforts.

In comparison to states like Melaka and Penang, it appears that Perak still lags in the endeavour to safeguard its valuable heritage.

The responsibility for this task extends not only to the state government but also to local authorities, private entities, and the general public.

According to Deputy Chairman of the Malaya Historical Group Society (MHGSoc), Nor Hisham Zulkiflee, the role of the Perak State Museum Board is crucial in providing information related to the state’s heritage tourism.

Regrettably, many museums, especially those under the management of the Perak State Museum Board, remain non-operational due to renovation and other reasons.

“Perak, after Melaka, is among the states with many museums managed by both the central and state governments as well as private entities.

“Hence, there is a strong hope that these museums will be opened in time for Visit Year 2024. I commend efforts such as the reopening of the Royal Museum in Kuala Kangsar, which adds value to the state’s historical heritage tourism,” he stated.

He further emphasized the need to highlight heritage tourism products in places like Ipoh, Taiping, Gopeng, and Batu Gajah.

“I’ve noticed that heritage tourism receives attention only for a select few products and historical sites. Despite facilities such as signboards being provided, attention is limited to specific heritage trails, such as those related to World War II and the heritage trail of Dr. Sun Yat Sen.

Other towns like Kuala Kangsar, Kampar, Lenggong, and Perak Tengah also deserve more recognition,” he commented.

Additionally, he pointed out sites not only with local historical value but also national significance, some recognized by UNESCO, including the Tanjung Tualang No.5 Dredge, Kellie’s Castle, Victoria Bridge, Dutch Fort Pangkor, Old Town Ipoh, and the Lenggong Valley.

“Moreover, the 150th-anniversary celebration of Taiping coincidentally falls in the same year. We are aware that this heritage town has many ‘firsts’ in the Malay States.

“The Pasir Salak Historical Complex also requires immediate promotion and funding for upgrades. The refurbished replica of Dato Maharaja Lela’s house holds potential and should be opened and promoted soon,” he added.

Nor Hisham expressed hope that the state government would assess the facilities provided at each heritage site. He stressed the importance of cleanliness and directional signages to these locations.

“Authorities should collaborate with industry players, including NGOs and residents, in promoting and maintaining these sites,” he concluded.

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