Monday, August 14, 2006

Save the Coliseum, Save Bok House!

On the one hand, S. Vikneswaran, 25, is starting an e-mail and signature campaign to "Save Our Coliseum" from being forcibly acquired by the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry.

On the other, The Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) is urging the government to save Bok House from being demolished by declaring it a national heritage.

Contrast the following two reports appearing in our local papers today:-

The Star, page N23, 14 August 2006

Moviegoer starts campaign to ‘Save Our Coliseum’

KUALA LUMPUR: Frequent moviegoer S. Vikneswaran, 25, has started an e-mail and signature campaign to “Save Our Coliseum” because of his fond memories of the theatre since he watched his first movie there at the age of five.

He is calling on all fans of the cinema to show their support and come and sign the petition at the Coliseum on Aug 19 at 2pm.

“I do not belong to any NGO, and I am starting this campaign from the bottom of my heart because I have had a liking for the cinema since I was five,” said Vikneswaran, 25, a clerk. He has already sent more than 1,000 e-mails and distributed the notices for the signature campaign to various places in the city.

“If the Government takes over Coliseum it would mean there’ll be no more great places for Indian movies in Kuala Lumpur. Whenever a relative came from outstation we would take him or her to the Coliseum for a movie. It is ideally located for Indian moviegoers because they can watch a movie, dine and shop along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman,” Vikneswaran said.

He added that there were other heritage places in the city that could be taken over as a heritage centre.

“There are several unoccupied buildings along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman that could be taken over for a heritage centre. Why do they want to acquire Coliseum when it has created so many fond memories for Malaysians all these years.”

Many of his married friends informed him that their first movie date was at the Coliseum.

Meanwhile, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim will be meeting the cinema’s owner this week to discuss the future of the cinema.

The late Chua Cheng Bok built the Coliseum Cinema during his lifetime. After his death in 1940, the Coliseum Cinema property formed part of the estate of Chua Cheng Bok.

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The SUN, page 16, 14 August 2006

Save Bok House, says IEM

The Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) is deeply concerned that Bok House, which was completed in 1929, is in danger of being demolished.

"We urge the government to save Bok House by declaring it a national heritage. The government is empowered to do so under the National Heritage Act 2005. IEM is willing to play its part to maintain the national heritage when Bok House is so saved by the government," it added.

IEM said the well-known civil engineering firm of Swan & Maclaren designed and built Bok House, which represents Kuala Lumpur's grandest neo-classical mansion.

"Bok House is an outstanding example of how a classical European Palladian villa was adopted to Malaysia's tropical climate with its deep verandahs," IEM said in a statement.

Swan & Maclaren was one of the three leading firms designing commercial and residential buildings including among others, Raffles Hotel (1899) and Victoria Memorial Hall (1905) in Singapore and Victoria Institute (1929) in Kuala Lumpur. It played a significant role in the development of modern architecture in the region.

IEM said it would be proud and honoured to serve as the Government-appointed caretaker and custodian of Bok House.

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Like blogger HJ Angus said here: "The indecent haste to acquire the COLISEUM CINEMA in KL shows that the authorities can be very callous when they want to show their power.

Just imagine offering RM500k for a well-maintained building on prime building land just because the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry were affected by the present heatwave and came up with this half-baked idea."

And blogger Maverick has opined that: "Adverse acquisition, the compulsory acquisition by the government of properties belonging to the citizen is provided for, under the statute.

However, the manner it can be done and had been done is the fear that wide discretionary and uncontrolled power had been given to the executives and ministers, who could, in the name of the government, under the disguise or pretext of some state needs for development or under the name of HERITAGE, forced the property owner out of their possession.

Title by 'adverse acquisition' seems to resemble ‘Title by theft or robbery’, a primitive method of acquiring property without paying adequately for it. Wrongful taking eventually generates rightful title.” (adapted from HW Ballantine; ‘Title by Adverse Possession’)."

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Does the above two contrasting fate affecting old buildings in our country tell us something about the way our government viz-a-viz it's political leaders view the true value of our heritage and culture as against the desire to satisfy certain selfish motivation for commercial & economic purposes?

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5 Comments:

Blogger Maverick SM said...

The main problem is the executives are random managers. They hear something, they may act, without the need to analyze the benefits and consequences. They do what they think right and later, try to correct their mistakes if possible. If irreversible, then they gave excuse and blames anything to save their asses. Preserving heritage ia an act of understanding restoration and historical values. If the owner is doing their part in preservation, then it do not need the govt to interfere. That way, the public can contribute to heritage preservation. However, ministers treat the public as fools and think only they are smart enough to do the work right which often goes the opposite direction. There are so many dilapidated historical buildings such as schools and govt buildings which have historical values. However, I have seen those beautiful historical schools been renovated and modernised and the old architecture is gone. There are also many other buildings which are left to rot without any act of preservation. These, the ministers don't know until someone publish it in the media. Then, they may, may only, act. There is no end to ministerial dim-wit mentality, farce, balderdashing,dereliction, of the ignoramus and imbecile or loonies ... I just don't know what words to use to described the asshole.

15/8/06 01:23  
Blogger howsy said...

Not just limited to buildings. They know very well how to 'preserve' the nature, like Sipadan, Bukit Cerakah etc. etc. Preserved in our minds forever, not physically, that is.

Oh, just take my hometown Ipoh for example. The historical Pasar Bulat was torn down just like that and the last time I went back , it was just a car park. Wonder what happened to it now. :(

15/8/06 07:22  
Blogger Kenny Ng said...

I was so supprised when I read from paper said that only RM500K to buy over Coliseum, come on... with that money still can't even own a banglo house la! It's no doubt that some top management from govt wanna use it for own profit.

15/8/06 09:18  
Blogger Helen said...

Wait, I thot I read they're now going to speak to the owner and 'rent' from him?? No?

15/8/06 16:41  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

Mave: You hv already used some choice words!

Howsy: You'll probably see more of the same thing on your next trip home.

Kenny: We all want to buy RM500K prime shoplots in downtown KL too, eh?

Helen: In the first place, why should the owner even want to "rent" it to the Ministry when he is already running a profitable business himself, unless some element of force is visited upon the poor old man?

Some people do certain things for the love of it, and I'm sure the owner of the Coliseum is keen to continue operating the cinema for very personal reasons. That itself is a good enough reason why they should not force him out of business.

15/8/06 18:47  

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