Josephine Chua showing the Merit Award presented by the Unesco Asia-Pacific Heritage Award to the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple restoration committee in 2002.
Baba Rizal Abdullah
Masjid Tengkera, which is formerly known as the Tranquerah Mosque.

MELAKA: Local culture and heritage lovers welcome the proposal to demarcate a tertiary zone after the Unesco buffer zone in the heart of the historical city here.

The move, many hope, would better protect and conserve the state’s rich heritage and historical structures.

Local Straits-born Baba Rizal Abdullah, 61 said the move was a good one, and he suggested the inclusion of Tengkera, Kampung Jawa, Jalan Kubu and Jalan Hang Tuah into the zone.

“I was born and raised in Tranquerah, with the name now changed to Tengkera. It is rich in heritage culture and one of the Straits Settlements attached to Heeren Street (now known as Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock).

“There is the beautiful Malay Tranquerah Mosque, known as Masjid Tengkera, which should be preserved. I also hope that there will not be anymore approvals for the construction of new buildings after the creation of the tertiary zone.”

Rizal, who was also an avid antique collector, said the adage “old is gold” rang true when it came to preserving historical buildings in the country.

“Leave the buildings as it is and give them a new coat of paint of the same colour. This is the correct way of preserving them and stop approving high-rise or modern buildings.”

Rizal also expressed his disapproval in the renaming of road names and places inherited from European colonialists.

“Those days, Jalan Hang Tuah was known as Bona Vista Road, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock was known as Heeren Street, and Jalan Bendahara was known as Wolferstan Road.

“The streets in Jonker were known as First Cross Street, Second Cross Street, Third Cross Street and Fourth Cross Street, instead of Jalan Hang Kasturi, Lorong Hang Jebat and Jalan Hang Lekiu.

“We should be proud of, and embrace, our colonial history instead of feeling ashamed and renaming the roads,” he said, adding that livelihood businesses, such as trishaw rides, should also be introduced as classical rides instead of them having to blare loud music and put colourful lighting as an attraction.

Heritage proponent Josephine Chua, 61, called for stricter enforcement of guidelines.

“It is good to have a tertiary zone, but it is also important that the people managing and planning it are aware of what it means to live in a heritage zone.

“There is no point having new regulations when you can’t keep up with the old ones at the core and buffer zones. It is not just about protecting existing buildings, but also the feel of the place.

“Even now in the core zone, heritage buildings have been painted with garish colours, such as red, green, blue and yellow, which should not be allowed when the original colour of these buildings were white,” she said, adding that the buildings were now painted that way, perhaps, to attract business.

Citing examples of the Famosa Chicken Rice Ball and Mamee Jonker House, she said the owners of the premises must return to the original heritage of their buildings instead of painting them with strong colours.

Chua, who formerly served on the committee involved in the restoration of the 17th-century Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, also suggested incentives for heritage building owners to preserve their buildings as per the original.

“For example, if you follow the guidelines, the government can approve your plans fast or help you get lime plaster paints at discounted prices.

“You can also give certificates of appreciation to recognise their efforts in restoration work and helping traditional businesses to survive,” she said.

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