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Some items from the press relating to caves

Contents :

Gua Tempurung age
Proto Malays
Perlis caves to attract NZ tourists
Thaipusam 2012 and Batu Caves cable car
Lenggong Valley World Heritage Site
Gua Bewah skeleton, Kenyir
Dato Adi Taha death
USM archaeology gallery
235,000 year old Palaeolithic site, Mansuli, Sabah
Mulu Caves 2012 BCRA
Protection of Ipoh limestone hills
Lenggong & Gua Tambun declared as national heritage
Perak Museum
Mulu to be smoke free by 2017
Gua Tempurung challenge
Sarawak geopark
Bring Perak Man home
Lenggong Valley’s status threatened
High cost of travel a barrier to visiting Mulu
751 students go to Fairy Cave
Batu Caves condo
Buddha face Nam Thean Tong
Lenggong celebration as UNESCO sitec Batu Caves & Taman Negara suggested World Heritage sites

Gua Tempurung

Jan 18 2012 the New Straits Times reported that Gua Tempurung is much older than first thought. There has always been confusion over the age, as many tourist reports write that "the cave has been in existence since 8000 BC" and there is no mention of the age of the rock. Many reporters don't know the difference between the age of the rock forming the hill and the age of the cave. Geologists generally say the rock is around 200 million years old and the cave no older than about 5Ma. But this NST report now says it is 1500 million years old. However on the 18 Jan the SinChew papar wrote 150 myo, which is more credible. No one can tell the age of rock simply by looking at it.

A CHINESE geologist's findings has revealed that Gua Tempurung is more than 1,500 million years ago.

The findings by Zhou Shunbin, head of geology department of the Guangzhou Province's Education Association, has prompted the Perak state government to conduct further studies on the cave which is a popular tourist destination.
Previous studies by the state authorities had shown that the cave was only 400 million years.
Zhou led a delegation of 93 students from Guangzhou to visit the cave recently.
The visit was arranged by the Global Institute of Tourism and Tourism Perak.
Zhou said one of the rocks known as "meat rock" spotted by in Gua Tempurung would have taken at least 1,500 million years to form. He said a similar rock was exhibited in a museum in Taiwan but it was not in its natural form.
"The rock designs and formation in Gua Tempurung are beautiful and they are unpolished," he said.
"We are also attracted by the biodiversity of the area."
The cave has one of the most majestic white marble and limestone towers in Malaysia.
Concealed within the cave is an intricate system of smaller caves.
There are breathtaking natural formations of stalagmites and stalactites found only in this part of the world. Tunnels meander under the limestone hill that run for nearly 2km.
Earlier, the delegation, including 14 teachers and education department officials, were welcomed by Perak Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Hamidah Osman.
They were then taken on a tour of the cave. Hamidah said: "Based on the age of the rock formation revealed by the delegation, we will ask the authorities to conduct a detailed study of the age of the cave.
"We will also liaise with Zhou for more information on his findings."
In China, such formations are preserved.
Hamidah also hoped the students would become ambassadors after their visit to promote the state back home.
"This will be a boost to the state in view of the Visit Perak Year 2012."
Meanwhile Chen Shu, 12, from Guanzhou Second Middle School, said: "I was excited about the visit. This is the first time I have seen such beautiful rock formations.
"I will definitely come back."
Another student, Huang Jia Qing, 14, from Guanzhou Experimental School, said: "This is a new experience for me. I learned how the rocks were formed.
"I will share my knowledge with my classmates back home."
The delegation was on a three-day visit. They also went jungle-trekking in Ulu Geroh, Gopeng -- where they saw a Rafflesia flower -- before going to the seaside in Pangkor.


A few days later The Star 23 Jan jumped on the bandwagon and published a similiar report. Seems that Perak is trying to get visitors for the Visit Perak Year 2012.

Chinese students enjoy unforgettable nature trip

Guangdong Province Education Association geology department head Prof Zhou SinBun, who led the group, said the trip was very rewarding.
“Among the highlights was the discovery of a rare limestone formation that resembled layers of meat at Gua Tempurung.
“I have only seen museum exhibits of such formations but never in real life. I hope the state government will add this to its list of tourism products,” he said.
Prof Zhou said a similar formation resembling a piece of meat was at the Taiwan National Palace Museum.
“It is actually banded jasper, a stone that accumulates layers over hundreds of years and various impurities add on to the colours, making it look like layers of fat and meat,” he said.
Prof Zhou estimated that the particular rock, which he saw in Gua Tempurung, was estimated to be 1m in length and had taken up to 1.5 billion years to form.
“It is much larger compared with the one that was being exhibited in Taiwan,” he said, adding that it was first time he had seen it in its natural surrounding.
The group was welcomed by state Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Hamidah Osman at Gua Tempurung.
Their trip was organised in conjunction with Visit Perak Year 2012.


Jasper is not found in limestone. The cave 'meat' is probably calcite.
[Note the spellings of the geologist's name : NST calls him Zhou Shunbin, Star calls him Zhou SinBun.


This also made the international Caving News.


Proto Malays

Unfortunately in Malaysia, there are certain people who are determined to prove that one race is older than the others. These people tend to come out with crazy ideas and comments. The first such crazy piece for 2012 is this one, on the claims that the human race came from the proto Malays. It was published in the Malaysian Insider on Jan 20. See SEA Arch blog for more comments.

Study claims human race came from Proto-Malays

By Lisa J. Ariffin, January 20, 2012

Archaeological and genetic research suggests that ancient Proto-Malays who lived in the Sunda Shelf were the ancestors of the human race.
In a video presentation at the conference on the origin of the Malay race here, conference deputy chairwoman Zaharah Sulaiman explained how inhabitants on the Sunda Shelf survived the Toba super-volcanic eruption 75,000 years ago.
She added that the group, having left Africa, was forced to migrate to other parts of the world 25,000 years ago due to global warming, which she said caused floods that divided the Sunda Shelf into islands.
Supporting this theory was University Sains Malaysia scientist Zafarina Zainuddin, whose DNA-based study claims to trace “pure Malay lineage” for at least three generations.
Financed by a RM1.4 million grant from the Higher Education Ministry, Zafarina’s research ostensibly shows that Malays are the oldest community in South-East Asia.
“They can be traced back to 60,000 years,” Zafarina said.
She added that by finding “Malays have genetics which originate from Malay land”, this would reignite the “Malay spirit” so people will be proud to be Malays.
The conference was officially launched by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhiddin Yassin, who expressed hoped the convention will contribute positively to the development of Malays as well as other races and religion in the country.


Perlis caves

A article in NST on 3 Feb was about the Raja Muda Perlis inviting NZ tourists :
"Tuanku Syed Faizuddin said that for those interested in nature and exploration, Perlis offers Gua Kelam, one of two caves in the world which form a natural tunnel in which there is a stream. The other cave is in Brazil.
In addition, Gua Wang Burma, a cave full of beauty, is suitable for visitors who love outdoor activities and great natural beauty, he said."
Interesting comment about Gua Kelam!!!!!!



Thaipusam falls on 7 Feb 2012. An estimated 1.5 million are expected to go to Batu Caves for the event.

Temple ready for 1.5m visitors By VEENA BABULAL , New Straits Times, 21 Jan 2012

A CROWD of 1.5 million are expected to throng the cave temple complex at Batu Caves come Thaipusam on Feb 7.
Datuk R. Nadarajah says the Sri Maha Mariamman Devasthanam temple committee has spent RM500,000 on preparations for Thaipusam.
The sum was used to install utilities, erect tents for stalls and shelter, hire cleaners, engage contractors to collect rubbish around the 6.67ha grounds, repainting, and pay commission to staff.
Temple committee chairman Datuk R. Nadarajah said the amount included the replacement of four water pumps.
"We replaced all three pumps used to channel milk offerings from the hilltop Sri Subramania Swamy temple to the ground some 100m below. A water pump at the toilet was also replaced," he said.
Digital television screens, airing programmes of the event, will also be placed on the temple grounds.
A Streets visit to the temple showed work to be well under way.
The re-painting of its iconic 272 steps and its 42.7m-tall statue of Lord Muruga with gold paint that has been mixed with chemical compounds to repel birds began this week.
Nadarajah said this year, visitors would be re-directed from the usual route up the hilltop temple.
"Bearers of kavadi and milk pots will no longer be allowed to use the centre lane on the stairs.
"They will use the left lane and leave the centre and right lanes to others ," he said.
On the allocation of stalls, he said 250 stalls would be available for booking on Tuesday.
He denied that there were middlemen who booked the stalls to re-sell at higher prices.
"That used to happen three, four years ago, when we allowed people to pre-book stalls without payment. However, it is now first-come first-served. They also have to make the full payment.
"Committee members will make checks to ensure that the person who booked the stall is actually trading there," he said, adding that the committee charges between RM500 and RM1,000 per stall, depending on its size.


There was a call to ban the sale of alcohol on Feb 7 around areas where Thaipusam was celebrated.


Once again the cable car project was mentioned, in NST on 6 Feb 2012. It was previously mentioned in 2011.

Cable car for Thaipusam 2013

A COMPANY from India has been granted the development order for a cable car system in Batu Caves. The project, a joint venture between Damodar Ropeways, a Calcutta-based company, and the Sri Maha Mariamman Devasthanam temple committee, will take off in a month or two.
The service caters for the elderly and the disabled, who cannot climb the 272 steps leading to the hilltop Sri Subramania Swamy temple.
Temple committee chairman Datuk R. Nadarajah said the RM10 million project was fully sponsored by Damodar Ropeways and would be completed in time for Thaipusam next year.
The cars would run from the cave temple complex car park on a 150m cable. However, the number of cars was still undecided.
"There are several technical conditions and guidelines to meet. But initial soil testing, geological surveys and other technical aspects have been covered. We have ongoing meetings with the company to discuss project updates," he said.
Meanwhile, for many of the elderly and disabled in the Hindu community, the cable car service was the answer to their prayers.
"I am getting older and can no longer take the crowd. There is a lot of pushing and shoving on the walk up the stairs during Thaipusam. The heat also makes it unbearable," said G. Sivanes, a 55-year-old diabetic patient who also suffers from hypertension.
"The cable car would also help the disabled folk and people like my 70-year-old mother, who are too weak to climb the stairs. She will be happy to be able to go up again after 15 years.
It was mentioned again on Feb 8. Photography enthusiast Joseph Jeremiah, 22, also welcomed the move. He said shutterbugs would be able to take pictures from new angles.
"It also gives me a better view of what is going on so I get better ideas for my pictures," he said, adding the cave temple complex was a great setting for pictures."


Lenggong Valley as World Heritage Site

In Dec 2009 it was announced there were plans to nominate Lenggong Valley to Unesco as a world archaeological heritage site. On 24 Jan 2012 Bernama announced that they are confident this will happen.

Perak confident Lenggong Valley will be listed as World Heritage Site
The Perak government is confident that the Lenggong Valley will soon be listed as a World Heritage Site by the Unites Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
State Industry, Investment, Entrepreneur Development, ICT, Tourism and Women Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Hamidah Osman said the listing would add value to the ongoing Visit Perak Year 2012 promotional campaign.
"We are confident that the proposal, the discovery of artifacts and the research conducted in the Lenggong Valley will be given fair considerations by the UNESCO in accepting Malaysia's nomination, she told reporters here.
Malaysia submitted the nomination for Lenggong Valley on Jan 31 last year and the results is expected to be known after the UNESCO convention in Africa.

January 31, 2012 Bernama report :

Darul Ridzuan Museum to be upgraded into Perak Archaeological Museum

The Perak government has allocated RM100,000 to upgrade Muzium Darul Ridzuan here into the Perak Archaeological Museum in preparation for the Lenggong Valley to be declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.
State Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Hamidah Osman said the allocation was for improving the infrastructure at the museum, including providing more display racks for the archaeological artefacts and upgrading the lighting.
"This project is expected to start in February and the state government has obtained the cooperation of Universiti Sains Malaysia which agreed to hand over the archaeological items found in the Lenggong Valley for free to be exhibited at the museum," she told reporters, here, today.
Hamidah said the archaeological museum would be a new tourism product offered by the state's capital city of Ipoh.
She said more museums and galleries would be established, especially Ipoh, to encourage tourists to stay longer in the state.
"I hope the archaeological museum will be able to also operate on Sundays and public holidays so that more people will be able to visit and gain knowledge from it," she said.
It was reported that the nomination document and rehabilitation management plan for the Lenggong Valley had been sent by the National Heritage Department to the World Heritage Centre at Unesco on Jan 31 last year, and the state is awaiting the decision on the listing of the area as a World Heritage Site.

Further news on the application. This appeared in NST, 14 February 2012 :

Unesco to show Lenggong Valley artefacts

The uniqueness of Malaysia's heritage, including Perak's Lenggong Valley artefacts, will be displayed at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) headquarters in Paris, beginning today. The five-day exhibition, organised by the Department of National Heritage, will be officiated by Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.
In a statement yesterday, the ministry said the exhibition portrayed the depth of Malaysian heritage which went as far back as 1.8 million years, in the Lenggong Valley.
The valley was occupied for a very long period, making it one of the longest culture sequences in the world.
The exhibition also includes recent archaeological evidence indicating that the beginning of civilisation in Southeast Asia was found in the Bujang Valley, as early as 3,000 years ago, predating the evidence in neighbouring countries.

Lenggong Valley gets World Heritage status

On 30 June 2012 UNESCO announced that the archaeological heritage of Lenggong valley had been listed as a World Heritage site. See report in the Star.
This is the report from Bernama on 1 July :

UNESCO Declares Lenggong Valley World Heritage Site

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) declared Lenggong Valley in Hulu Perak as a world heritage site, at its conference Saturday night.
Information Communication and Culture minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said the discovery of ancient artifacts more than 11,000 years old from excavations at the valley by national archaeologists for the past 20 years led to the declaration.
"So now, we can add the Lenggong Valley to Penang, Melaka, Mount Kinabalu and the Niah Caves as heritage sites under UNESCO.
"This is a very meaningful achievement by the government and people which we can be proud of," he told reporters on Sunday.
He said the ministry would collate and record all the data related to the discoveries to provide more information to the public.
Rais also said the ministry and Perak government would look into a joint study on the Lenggong Valley's socio, cultural and heritage development.

There are 2 mistakes in this, as Niah is not a WH site, it should read Mulu, and Penang and Melaka are counted as one site. This report was copied in many of the Malaysian and also overseas papers. However by evening of the 2nd the papers publised a new, amended article :

Malaysia Now Has Four World Heritage Sites

Bernama July 2 18:21 PM
Malaysia now has four World Heritage Sites recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's (UNESCO) World Heritage List, the latest being the Archaelogical Heritage of the Lenggong Valley (AHLV) in Perak.
The others are the historic cities of Melaka and George Town along the Straits of Melaka, Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak and Kinabalu Park in Sabah.
The listing of AHLV by UNESCO is also 953rd on the World Heritage List in the current session of the World Heritage Committee here, and it also "testifies another dimension of the global recognition of Malaysia as a nation endowed with and committed to the conservation and protection of its world renowned heritage", the National Heritage Department said in a statement from St Petersburg, Russia Monday.
Malaysia is a member of the 21-nation World Heritage Committee that decides on the inscription, referral or deferral of properties proposed for nomination, a position it was elected to, for a four-year term (2011-2015).
Datuk Zuraina Majid, the Commissioner of Heritage Malaysia, led the Malaysian delegation to the meeting here. Others in the team include Professor Dr A. Ghafar Ahmad, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Wilfred Landong and Syahrin Abdullah. Malaysia's Permanent Delegate to Unesco, Mohd Zulkifli Mohammed, also attended the meeting.


Gua Bewah skeleton, new find

On 14 Feb 2012 Bernama reported that a new skeleton had been found in Gua Bewah at Tasik Kenyir. This was also published in The Star and NST. This is the Bernama report,although it is not clear if the skeleton was found in Gua Bewah or in a new cave :

Found: Remains Of Prehistoric Skeleton, Cave

The Terengganu Museum Board has discovered another prehistoric skeleton and cave at Gua Bewah located in the Tasik Kenyir area, following a recent excavation.
This is the second prehistoric skeleton and cave discovered in the vicinity since 2010.
Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said said studies were being conducted on the latest discovery, adding that the new cave would be equipped with moving ladder using solar energy, and costing between RM16 to RM18 million to facilitate visitors.

See more on s 2011.


The passing of Dato Adi Taha

Dato Adi Taha died on 4 Feb 2012. He was a well known archaeologist and had done a lot of work on cave sites such as Gua Cha and other cave sites in Kelantan. He was also the Director-General of Museums and Antiquities in Muzium Negara (National Museum), Kuala Lumpur. See this message from Peter Bellwood on SEAArch.

Swiftlets at Niah Cave

The Borneo Post on 17 March 2012 reported that the swiftlet numbers are dwindling in Niah caves. "Only around 100,000 black-nest swiftlets (Aerodramus maximus) remain in the limestone caves of the Niah National Park. This is a drastic drop compared to the around 1.7 million found in the 1930s." The decline is due to the harvesting of the nests, despite an annual ban when the collecting of nests is not allowed. The collectors have to be licensed.
86 licenses have been issued to harvest nests in the caves of Niah National Park. "As much as 95 per cent of the harvesting is conducted in the Great Cave of Niah. Raw black-nest swiftlet nests can be sold to traders for around RM100 per kg, depending on the quality."


USM launches archaeology gallery

Bernama on 3 April 2012 reported this :

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) has set up an archaeology gallery showcasing artefacts collected from throughout the country since 1987.
The collections were obtained from excavation works carried out at various sites nationwide by USM researchers, through the university's Global Archaeology Research Centre.
USM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Omar Osman said the gallery serves as a data centre for USM's research works and provides a clearer picture about the science of archaeology to visitors.
"The gallery is filled with historical information about the country and shown not just through narrations but also through scientific findings," he told reporters after opening the gallery, here today.
The RM300,000 gallery is poised to become an "archaeotourism" product in the northern part of the peninsula. It is open to the public and entrance is free.


235,000 year old Palaeolithic site found in Sabah

On 10 Apr 2012 the media reported the discovery of 235,000 year old stone tools from the Mansuli valley in Sabah. The discovery was made in 2003. The tools were found about 1 km away from Samang Buat cave. Prior to this, Sabah's oldest known site is Niah Cave in Sarawak, at approx 40,000 years old. See the Star report. This is the NST write up :

Borneo's oldest Palaeolithic site found in Lahad Datu

KOTA KINABALU: More than 200,000 years ago, humans migrated to Borneo where an early settlement was recorded in Lahad Datu.
State Tourism Culture, and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun (second from left) being briefed on the history of the Perak Man by USM Global Archaeological Research Centre director Prof Dr Mokthar Saidin (left) in Kota Kinabalu yesterday. With them is Sabah Museum director Joanna Kitingan. Pic by Malai Rosmah Tuah
Discovered by chance, Mansuli is believed to be the oldest Palaeolithic site in the Borneo archipelago.
Local-born archaeologist Jeffrey Abdullah said in 2003, a team was heading to the Gua Samang Buat archaeological site when they stumbled upon stone tools on the ground, about a kilometre from the cave.
"We dug the area to uncover more objects and the excavations revealed that the site had been used as a workshop to make stone tools during the Palaeolithic period.
"This proves that there was early settlement in the area and we've used optically stimulated luminescence dating (OSL dating) to find out when it occurred," he said at the "Malaysian Archaeology: Tracing The Ancient Society" exhibition at the Sabah Musuem here yesterday.
Present were state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Da-tuk Masidi Manjun, Sabah Museum director Joanna Kitingan and USM Global Archaeological Research Centre director Prof Dr Mokthar Saidin.
The excavations were carried out by the Global Archaeological Research Centre of Universiti Sains Malaysia in cooperation with Sabah Museum.
According to Jeffrey, OSL dating could determine the age as it relied on the assumption that the mineral grains were sufficiently exposed to sunlight before they were buried.
Scientific analyses of the artefacts revealed that chert was the most common rock material used to make the stone artefacts.
Jeffrey said there were many areas in the state that needed to be discovered in terms of archaeology.


Mulu Caves 2012 BCRA

The BCRA Mulu Caves 2012 expedition started in April. The expedition will concentrate on the Southern Hills.


Protection for Ipoh limestone hills

The NST on 5 May 2012 reported:

Ipoh council to protect limestone hills

THE Ipoh City Council (MBI) is hoping to gazette the preservation and protection of Ipoh's limestone hills from future quarrying or mining under the Ipoh Local Draft Plan 2020.
Mayor Datuk Roshidi Hashim said 16 prominent limestone hills, including Gunung Kanthan, Gunung Lang, Gunung Tambun and Gunung Datok, had been identified as important areas for their unique biodiversity.
"Apart from providing a scenic view around the city, the hills are home to an array of flora and fauna that cannot be found elsewhere.
"Instead of being destroyed for mining and quarry activities, these hills should be maintained and promoted for tourism, research or recreation," he said after chairing the monthly full board meeting here yesterday.
Roshidi said studies carried out at the 400-million-year-old hill sites have discovered a wide range of endemic species such as the Trapdoor Spider, or Liphistius kanthan, in Gunung Kanthan.
"The spider is only found there and derived its scientific name from its habitat."
He pointed out that various species of snails, snakes, bats and plants have also been found at the limestone hills and could serve in natural and biological research efforts.
"Some of the hills such as Gunung Datok, also have fossils and cave drawings that hold aesthetic and archeological value."
Roshidi said MBI would submit the tabling of the Ipoh Local Draft Plan 2020 at the state executive council meeting next month.
"If the state government sanctions the draft plan to be gazetted, we hope there will no longer be licence approvals for new quarry sites to be opened at the hills."
He, however, said the renewal of existing quarry licences were the prerogative of the state government.
Roshidi said on the part of the city council, MBI had stopped issuing recommendation letters for new quarry sites in the city.


Lenggong and Gua Tambun declared as heritage sites

Bernama reported on 10 May 2012 (and The Sun 11 May) that 154 sites, objects and individuals are declared as national heritage.
"The national heritage status for archeological sites are given to the archeological site in Sungai Batu, Sungai Petani, Kedah; Bukit Bunuh, Lenggong, and Gua Batu Tambun in Perak". See USM report.


Perak Museum

When I visied the Perak Museum in Ipoh in April 2012 it was closed. It is now open again and has an archaeology feature, according to this report from New Straits Times North on 10 May 2012.

A glimpse into prehistoric Perak

The history of Perak can be traced at the Muzium Darul Ridzuan
DID you know that Bukit Bunuh in Lenggong was the site of a meteorite fall over 1.83 million years ago?
And that it is considered among the world's oldest sites containing prehistoric evidence, second only to Africa?
Interesting information about Perak in the prehistoric age can now be found in Muzium Darul Ridzuan, Jalan Panglima Bukit Gantang Wahab, here.
Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Centre for Global Archaeological Research director Professor Dr Mokhtar Saidin and his team spent three weeks transforming the museum's ground floor into a treasure trove of information about all things Perak.
"It is a one-stop centre for the public to learn about the state, including the locations of the earliest human dwellings, cave drawings, Orang Asli culture and the Sultanate period," he said at the recent unveiling and handing over ceremony of the gallery project from USM to the state government here.
He said many people were not aware of the state's rich archeological significance in Southeast Asia.
"For example, Perak Man, which was excavated by USM archeologists in Lenggong, is among the oldest and most complete human skeletons found in the region," he said.
State Industry, Investment, Entrepreneur Development, Tourism and Women Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Hamidah Osman, who was present to launch the event, said the museum exhibits were a culmination of over 20 years of research by Mokhtar and his team.
She praised him for playing a key role in obtaining a World Heritage Site listing under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) for Penang and Malacca.
"Hopefully, with his help, Lenggong Valley will soon be similarly listed as well," she said.
She said the nomination for Lenggong Valley was submitted on Jan 31 last year, and the outcome is expected to be known after the Unesco convention in Moscow in July.
"The state government is very confident that the nomination will be successful," she said, adding she hoped the museum will be another tourist attraction in the state.
"The museum can give tourists an insight into the culture, economy and architecture of Perak spanning over a million years.
"People can gain more in-depth knowledge by visiting the Lenggong Archeological Museum," she said.
The public can check out the various artifacts, pictures and video presentations in the museum, which opens daily between 9.30am and 5pm.
It is closed on Fridays between 12.15pm and 2.45pm.
Admission is free.
Read more: A glimpse into prehistoric Perak - Northern - New Straits Times .


Mulu to be smoke free by 2017

The Borneo Post published this on May 15 -

Mulu Park to be gazetted as smoking-free area by 2017

by Jonathan Chia, reporters@theborneopost.com.
KUCHING: Mulu National Park, which had been recognised as one of the world heritage site by Unesco will be gazetted as a smoking-free area by the year 2017.
The initiative makes Mulu National Park, the second world heritage site in the country, after Melaka to be gazetted as smoking-free area.
Besides Malaysia, other world heritage sites such as Luang Prabang in Laos, Sukhotai in Thailand, Ha Long in Vietnam had prohibited their visitors from smoking in the areas.
Other areas including Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Borobudur Temple and Premban in Indonesia, Champasack in Laos, Underground River Puerto Princesa, Palawan in The Philippines, Ayutthaya in Thailand, Hoi An in Vietnam, Kinabalu Park and Georgetown in Malaysia are in the process of gazetting the prohibition.
To implement the project, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Malaysian Health Promotion Board (MySihat) and Sarawak Medical Association at State Health Department here yesterday.
MySihat was represented by MySihat chief executive officer Datuk Dr Yahya Baba while Sarawak Medical Association was represented by its chairman, who is also state health director Dr Zulkifli Jantan.
The MoU was witnessed by Minister of Local Government and Community Development Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh and MySihat chairman Toh Puan Datuk Seri Dr Aishah Ong.
During her speech, Dr Aishah said the MoU signing saw the role by MySihat to intensify the promotion of health through the active involvement of non-governmental organisation , that is, Sarawak Medical Association.
She pointed out that this programme was part of the initiatives by MySihat towards establishing more smoking-free areas in world heritage sites in the country.
She stated that the cigarette smoke-free initiative would not stop on world heritage sites because efforts are currently underway by MySihat for more areas in the country to be gazetted as smoking-free areas.
“MySihat is actively supporting efforts by state governments to turn areas in their states to be smoking-free. Johor will be launching its smoke-free campaign on this May 31 in conjunction with World No Tobacco Day,” she added.
Meanwhile, Wong said the move to gazette Mulu National Park as a non-smoking area would not deter tourists from visiting the national park.
He said that with the worldwide concern on healthy environment, the move instead could encourage even more visitors to the park.
“On one hand, (some people would say) it would deter smoking tourists but on the balance, we would not lose out in the long run (in terms of tourists’ arrival),” he told reporters after the MoU signing ceremony.
Earlier during his speech, Wong called on tourism stakeholders involved in the promotion and services at Mulu National Park to refrain from smoking and to play their part to ensure the success of the project.
“I’m very grateful that the programme has been brought to our door step and I would say that Mulu National Park is the first world heritage site in the state to be gazetted as cigarette smoke-free zone,” he said.
Knowing that saying is easier than done, Wong urged both public and private sectors to put in efforts to ensure that programme could be implemented successfully.
“I know MySihat has all the good intention to initiate such a project and I would say that making this project successful requires concerted effort from everyone.
“It takes continuous effort to make this project successful because in five years time, we hope to see Mulu National Park being free from cigarette smoke,” he added.
Wong hoped that all visitors and staff of Mulu National Park would make an effort to refrain from smoking in support of the programme.
“It is a matter of courtesy as you would not want other people to be second hand smokers and it is also courteous that you don’t smoke in front of other people.
“You have to refrain yourself from time to time and if you have to smoke, smoke away from other people,” he said.
Wong added that it required discipline for an individual to stop smoking, adding that it required strong determination from smokers to discipline themselves not to do something that they should not do.


Gua Tempurung challenge

The Gua Tempurung Challenge 2012 was held on June 3rd 2012 and saw 100 participants (non cavers) racing through the cave.

This will be followed by the Gua Tempurung Eco Challenge in Aug 2012.


Sarawak geopark

The proposal for a geopark at the Sarawak River delta was suggested in 2010 and 2011. It is hoped to be the country's second park -

Plans for Kuching delta, Mt Kinabalu to become Unesco geoparks

Borneo Post June 24

KUCHING: Plans are afoot to include the areas in Kuching delta and Mount Kinabalu in Sabah as part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (Unesco) Global Geopark Network programme.
Following the extension of Langkawi in Kedah to be incorporated under the Global Geopark Network programme for another four years by the world organisation recently, the idea is for both the Kuching delta and Mount Kinabalu areas to be given recognition as the nation’s other geoparks.
“A committee has been established to work on the proposals and details to turn these two areas into geoparks. We are working for both areas to receive national recognition before they can be considered for the Unesco’s geopark programme.
“The plan is to make Kuching delta and Mount Kinabalu the country’s second and third recognised Global Geopark Network,” said Malaysian Mineral and Geosciences Department director general Dato Yunus Abdul Razak in his speech at the opening of the National Geosciences Conference 2012 (NGC 2012) at Pullman Hotel here yesterday.
Also present were Second Resource Planning and Environment Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, the ministry’s permanent secretary Datu Sudarsono Osman, state Geoscience and Mineral Department director Alexander Unya Ambun, Malaysian Geology Association president Prof Dr Joy Jacqueline Pereira and Academy of Sciences Malaysia council member Datuk Ibrahim Komoo among others.
At present, Yunus opined that the state could achieve recognition ahead of neighbouring Sabah considering that presentation of the Kuching deltas as a geopark had been made to the Ministry of Resources and Environment. He hoped that national recognition would be given soon.
Unesco’s recognition under the Global Geopark Network programme is awarded every four years after strict assessment to ensure that fulfillments are met.
Yunus also revealed that regulation of the Geologist Act 2008 had been approved by the cabinet, currently awaiting final approval from the prime minister. The revision would upgrade professionalism while improving on the quality and expertise of geologists.
In light of this approval, the department is in the process of setting up a protem board consisting of 12 plus two members. The board members would consist of 12 professional geologists where five would come from the public sector and another five from the private sector. Two would be representatives from the Malaysian Geology Institute.
The other ‘plus two’ representatives will be appointed by the Natural Resources and Environment Minister Dato Sri Douglas Uggah Embas.


Bring Perak Man home

After the Lenggong Valley was listed as a World Heritage site on 30 June 2012 (see above) there were calls to take the bones of Perak Man back to Lenngong. They are currenly on display in the National Museum in Kuala Lumpur.

This is the report from The Star on July 2, 2012

"Bring home Perak Man"

LENGGONG: It is time for Perak Man to come home.
Lenggong MP Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah said the skeletal remains of the earliest man in the country, currently being showcased at the National Museum, should be exhibited at the archaeological museum here.
"It will give more impact to the local tourism industry here.
"It is more meaningful for the Perak Man to be displayed here where it was originally found," he told reporters.
He added that the archaeological museum here was currently housing a replica of the skeleton.
"Tourists who visit the National Museum will stay in Kuala Lumpur, boosting its local economy there.
"Imagine how it could impact the economy here," he added.
Shamsul Anuar was commenting on the recognition of Lenggong Valley as an archaeological heritage site by Unesco.

There was an updated version of this, with a photo, on 3 July.

Bringing home Perak Man was again mentioned by Bernama on 25 Sept:

Perak Working On Ways To Bring Back "Perak Man"
The Perak government will cooperate with the National Heritage Department to ensure that several proposals made by Unesco, including the 'Perak Man' be returned to its rightful place in Lenggong Valley can be implemented.
State Industry, Investment, Entrepreneurial Development, Tourism and Women's Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Hamidah Osman said the proposals were being discussed by both parties.
"But to bring back the Perak Man from the National Museum is not an easy task as the skeleton (of the earliest human in the peninsular) had to be kept in a conducive room to make sure it is well protected," she said when responding to a question from Datuk Mohd Tarmizi Idris (BN-Kenering) at the state assembly Tuesday.
Hamidah refuted Su Keong Siong's (DAP-Pasir Pinji) claim that the government had received a warning from Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) for not keeping the world heritage's site well managed.
"That's not a warning, it was an advisory," she retorted, adding that as Lenggong Valley was recognised as a world heritage site, Unesco told the authorities of the conditions that had to be fulfilled.

This was in the news again, Star 10 Nov.


Lenggong Valley’s status threatened

The Star reported on 15 Aug about the problems at Lenggong.

There is a danger that the Lenggong Valley’s status as a Unesco World Heritage Site can be revoked if it is not cared for properly.
Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Global Archaeological Research Centre director Prof Dr Mokhtar Saidin said the authorities failed to barricade the entrances of caves and excavation sites at the valley, making it easy for people to walk in and out as they liked.
“I have been told that some villagers and unlicensed ‘tour guides’ are charging visitors between RM20 and up to an absurd RM900.
“I am very worried that the influx of people to these sites and the absence of proper management of the historical site will jeopardise the site’s condition.
“We need to work quickly. Unesco will first issue a warning for the heritage site to be maintained if it feels that nothing is being done.
“It will then put Lenggong Valley on its ‘danger list’ if they feel that we do not show enough commitment in preserving the site before finally revoking the title,” he said here after giving a talk on the archaeological research in Lenggong Valley.
Dr Mokhtar said both the National Heritage Department and the local authorities would closely monitor the situation.
However, he urged all stakeholders to move quickly to draw up a conservation management plan for the site.
“The management plan should include the dos and don’ts for the local authorities, tourism industry players and developers,” he added.
Dr Mokhtar expects the final draft of the management plan, which is being discussed with the stakeholders, to be ready by August next year.
“The finished proposal must be submitted to Unesco by 2014. “Between now and the 2014 deadline, galleries to view artefacts and other items from excavation sites could be set up while tour packages should also be ready by then,” he said.
He also said efforts were being made to renovate the Lenggong Museum to be turned into a World Heritage Office.

High cost of travel a barrier to visiting Mulu

Borneo Post 1 Oct by Alex Dlee.

Mulu will lose to other destinations in the country and region due to the high cost of visiting it.
On arrival here from Mulu yesterday, Vietnamese tour operator Alex Dlee said it only cost him about RM300 to fly from Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur, but more than that to get to the World Natural Heritage site.
“I noticed a lot of foreign tourists particularly westerners there. I believe more Malaysians are interested to visit Mulu but the high cost in airfare becomes an obstacle,” he said.
He believed more Malaysians could afford to visit Mulu if the cost was reduced. Alex believed Mulu would lose out to other destinations in the country and world that were cheaper to access.
He was on a fact-finding visit to Mulu before promoting it to clients in Hanoi, Vietnam.
“Mulu has lots of natural wonders. It is a suitable place for everybody as it is beautiful and quiet. Nice place to visit,” said Alex who was impressed with the way the government and park management maintain the park.
“Although we have caves back in Vietnam, they are nothing compared to Mulu which is well maintained with the river so clear and clean. The formations inside the caves are also well preserved,” he said.
Alex said he would be networking with tour agencies here to market and promote Miri and Mulu as tour destinations to his Vietnamese clients in Hanoi.


Unimas students enter book of records in caving expedition

The Borneo Post 12 Oct 2012 reported on a record feat at the Fairy Cave, Bau, where 751 students went into the cave. It's hardly something to be proud of in terms of cave conservation!

The Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) Reserve Officers Training Unit (Palapes) marked a milestone when its members entered the Malaysian Book of Records by holding the ‘Largest Participation in Caving Expedition’ at Fairy Cave on Oct 5 to 6.
With a total of 751 participants consisting of Unimas students, the event started at 5pm with the first group set out to mark the path along the cave, which took over one and a half hours.
The last group of 149 set off the next day and came out of the caving expedition at 7.53pm.
The expedition set the record that was registered under 28 hours and was participated by students from eight faculties.
Programme director Abdul Rahman Nanyan said the success is a major achievement for Unimas and is a benchmark for others to break.
The event was jointly organised with the Unimas 16th convocation committee.

This was also posted on the international Cavingnews.


Batu Caves condo

In October 2012 there was a lot in the media about the proposed condo at Batu Caves. The temple authority etc were against it. However this project has been around since at least 2008, see Dolomite Park. The Star carried several articles, Condos rock Batu Caves 22 Oct, Batu Caves temple serves stop-work notice on developer 23 Oct, Construction of condo next to Batu Caves to be temporarily halted 24 Oct, Stop condo project 25 Oct, Batu Caves at risk of caving in 26 Oct, Protest against condo project near Batu Caves on 27 Oct, with a video -

More reports, Temple to take court action if project not scrapped (with video) and Exco man slams Hindraf leader for linking issue to Buah Pala incident on 27 Oct. Video -

There were some interesting quotes, "Datuk Seri G. Palanivel, said Batu Caves was a limestone area with a tendency to become soggy. Over time, the caves could become soggy and collapse, if vigorous activities are carried out in the area" (Bernama 21 Oct). "Datuk Seri G. Palanivel, who is Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, said the limestone could easily become soggy, especially during heavy rainfall. The condominiums as well as the caves may collapse, if not now in later years" (Star 25th). "Batu Caves could cave in if a 29-storey condominium project near the area is given the green light, said Selangor Malaysian Nature Society committee member Lim Teck Wyn" (Star 26).
A protest was planned for 26th and "is expected to attract about 100,000 people" (NST 23 Oct), but apparently there were only about 300 NST 26th and 27th.

The reports continued on the 28th.

This news went on for several days and the Sun had various reports that Some of the people now protesting the condo were the ones who gave agreement back in 2007

Yet they still want to build a cable car up the hill - see above under Thaipusam, February.

Buddha face on cliff at Nam Thean Tong

The Star 27 Oct 2012 featured a Buddha face on a cliff at Nam Thean Tong cave temple at Gunung Rapat near Ipoh. See my blog for article and photos.


Lenggong celebration as a UNESCO site

Nov 10 celebration of Lenggong Valley’s recognition as Unesco World Heritage Site, Bernama 6 Nov.

The Ministry of Information Communication and Culture in collaboration with the National Heritage Department and Perak state government, will be holding a one-day celebration on Nov 10 to commemorate Lenggong Valley's recognition as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
The celebration was not only to publicise the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (Unesco) recognition of the site but also to increase the local community's commitment towards protecting and conserving it, said the Ministry in a statement Tuesday.
An estimated 5,000 people, mostly locals, school and university students, historical and heritage societies and tour operators are expected to throng the Lenggong square here for the event.
They will be entertained with a variety of activities, including performances by Perak artistes such as Os, Datuk M Daud Kilau and Wahid Senario leading up to the official ceremony.
The statement said, Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim and Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir were scheduled to attend the official ceremony which will start at 2.30 pm. Rais and Zambry are expected to launch the Lenggong Valley Archaeology Heritage, UNESCO World Heritage Site website, after which Rais will present Unesco's instrument of recognition to the Perak Menteri Besar. On June 30, Unesco recognised the Lenggong Valley in Hulu Perak as a world heritage site, as a result of the discovery of artifacts dating back more than 11,000 years, by archaeologists who had carried out excavation works for the past 20 years.


The Star 11 Nov report of the event.


Batu Caves & Taman Negara suggested World Heritage sites

The Star 10 Nov had a piece on bringing Perak Man home (see above), which also mentioned that :
Dr Rais also said two other places - Taman Negara and Batu Caves had been selected to be proposed as World Heritage Sites. However, as Malaysia was a member of the World Heritage Committee, this proposal would be tabled only after 2015 when its membership expired to avert any perception of a conflict of interest.
He said that preparation of the dossier for Taman Negara was still at the preliminary stage while Batu Caves had been brought up during a Cabinet meeting a week ago.

Over the next few days there were several reports in the media. Quantum leap for Malaysia if Batu Caves declared World Heritage Site – Rais, (Bernama 13 Nov).