Say “NO” to the plan to demolish a heritage row in Kuala Terengganu

Pak_Loh_in his bookshopOver a hundred years ago, my great, great grandfather, Abdullah Al-Yunani came to Kuala Terengganu from China and decided to stay there. He opened a bookstore named Abdullah Al-Yunani or better known to the locals as ‘Keda Buku Pok Loh Yunang’. Ask a person who was brought up in Kuala Terengganu, most of them would know the bookstore and they might even tell you that the shop was where they bought their schoolbooks long, long time ago. [Read what Awang Goneng wrote about it here]

Over a century, the business grew from a simple bookstore selling newspapers, a few kitabs (religious books) and some other books to a fully air-conditioned modern bookstore offering WiFi service. In the 1970s the bookstore was renamed Kedai Buku Ahmad Omar and later to Alam Akademik Sdn Bhd.

AA-tingkat bawah pelanggan-sMy grandfather, Ahmad Omar bought the shophouse more than 30 years ago but was forced to surrender the  land to the state government for only RM200, 000 (because of land acquisition)! Did we agree to such a low price for the freehold prime land right by the very main street of the town? Of course we did not; in fact my grandfather had never ever wanted to sell the shophouse for what ever price for the shophouse means so much to him. But what choice did he has when it came to land acquisition by the state government?

My grandparents complained the matter to the Terengganu Chief Minister (at the time), Tan Sri Wan Mokhtar Ahmad and he promised that the shophouses’ owners will be offered to buy new shophouses at a very special price (as part of the deal) to compensate our lost, as the RM200,000 paid to us was far below the market price at the time. He also promised us that the government will let us stay in the building until they provide us a new place in the area. Trusting that Tan Sri Wan Mokhtar’s words as official promises by the Terengganu state government, my grandfather did not make any further official complain. Furthermore as a strong UMNO supporter, my grandfather trusted the Barisan Nasional state government fully and never ever imagine that UMNO will disown their promises even though it was not made on paper!

AhmadOmar-SetPolMBMy grandfather used to work overseas for the first Malaysian Prime Minister YM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj as a diplomat with minister’s status and later joined the politics as a state assemblyman and also as the political secretary to the (then) Chief Minister, Tan Sri Ibrahim Fikri. And for the sake of UMNO my grandfather had no choice but to accept the offer without making a legal complain.

On the 19th July, 2009, 34 shopkeepers in Jalan Bandar and Jalan Banggol, Kuala Terengganu (including Alam Akademik) received a notice from the Lembaga Tabung Amanah Warisan Negari Terengganu to vacate the shophouses before 13th August, 2009. [Read about it in my previous posting here] When we questioned the notice and the promises made by the state government years ago at the time we were forced to surrender our land to the state government for a mere RM200,000; they said that they are not responsible of providing us a place to move to and have the right to force us out since the land is now theirs. What happened to all of the sweet promises they made before?

going next and goneThe sad news was that the LTAWNT or the ‘supposedly’  heritage board of the state of Terengganu  is planning to demolish the heritage row to widen the road and to build new building in the name of modernisation. Isn’t it odd that the heritage board do not seems to understand the value of heritage? When the other states of Malaysia such as Melaka, Pulau Pinang (Penang) and the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur are proud to restore their heritage buildings, the Terengganu heritage board looked at the heritage building as an eye sore. How sad…..Who can we trust to protect our heritage then? The heritage row is still standing strong and beautiful; and still fit for business. And what about the historical value of the building?

As Uncle Awang Goneng wrote in his blog ‘Kecek Kecek‘, ‘Now they are planning to pull down a row of shophouses in Kedai Payang, buildings that are more than a hundred years old that are still fit for purpose and need, at most, a tender loving touch and a coat of colour. Thus our history can be saved.’

stadium-bernama4The Terengganu state government had already destroyed lots of heritage  historical buildings to make way for new buildings. They claimed that they are building a modern ‘city’ and they do not want ‘old and shabby’ buildings in the city of Terengganu. If they are trying to say that the shophouses looked old and shabby, think again. It does NOT look shabby at all, in fact its quality is even better than the new ‘modern’ buildings which are facing problems (including those that collapsed) as we can see day after day. The state government should instead use the fund to restore and beautify the heritage row and protect the heritage historical building for its invaluable historical value to the people of Terengganu.

The reason why the government cannot see all these is because they are all money-driven. They are greedy and materialistic, all they think of is money, money, money. [see various comments on Kecek-kecek’s Mabuk Kepayang]  And not even one assemblyman nor their representatives (except one from the opposition party) came to visit us. It was reported in the newspaper that the Chief Minister Y.A.B. Dato’ Ahmad bin Said visited some villages and helped them to fix roofs and did all kinds of other things. But why can’t he meet us even once? asked CikguFauzi of MAMPAT (view here on Youtube as reported by or as reported by NTV7)

HM bantah notis“He is a coward” said one of the shopowners during the many protests held. “Is he afraid of what people may think of him? He knew it was wrong of him to do what he is doing but who cares? He’ll get the money and it’s not him who will suffer… it’s us“. To all those out there who care enough for the heritage and history, please help us to preserve the place. You could ask help from organisations, NGOs or perhaps inform this to a person you know. The least you can do is perhaps to write about it and spread the message. You’ll never know how powerful words can be.

Read news and articles on “Selamatkan Warisan Sejarah Trengganu – Save Our Historical Heritage


11 thoughts on “Say “NO” to the plan to demolish a heritage row in Kuala Terengganu

  1. Pingback: Aiman Amani’s Weblog (2009-08-19 01:32) « Percuma Untuk Anda

  2. Assalamualaikum,

    Saya memang ingat benar Keda Pok Loh Yunang tu sebab selalu gi beli buku semasa saya di K.T. dari 1953 hingga 1966. Saya juga kenal Ustaz Mad yang mengambil alih kedai tu dan ditukar nama kepada Alam Akademik. Sekarang anak Ustaz Mad pula yang menguruskan kedai buku tu.

    Dari segi sejarah memang benar kedai buku tu adalah sangat terkenal di Kuala Terengganu; telah menjadi seakan-akan satu mercu tanda di situ sebelum ada jam besar. Semasa ada jam besar, memang jam tu lah yang menjadi mercu tanda. Selepas tu mungkin kedai Pok Loh Yunang menjadi mercu tanda semula. walaupun nama kedai sudah ditukar kepada Alam Akademik, bagi orang-orang lama seperti saya masih memanggil kedai tu Keda Pok Loh Yunang.

    Nilai sejarahnya memang ketara Keda Pok Loh Yunang tu, tetapi bagi generasi baru mungkin tak tahu dan hanya mengenalinya sebagai Alam Akademik. Dan bagi generasi baru tu memang tidak mengetahui nilai sejarah sebab mereka tidak mengenali kedai pok loh yunang. Entahlah, mungkin kerana buta sejarahlah maka pihak pemerintah yang rata-rata terdiri daripada golongan baru (generasi baru) tidak terfikir untuk menilainya dari segi sejarah.

    Sebagai orang lama, memang saya berasa sedit amat jika sekiranya bahan-bahan sejarah dihapuskan begitu saja. Saya berharap dan berdoa semoga tindakan meroboh bangunan tersebut tidak akan diteruskan. Sepatutnya gazetkan bangunan tu sebagai bangunan warisan (heritage) dan catkan dengan warna merah atau jingga seperti bangunan-bangunan bersejarah di Melaka.

    Sekian, wassalam.

  3. Assalamualaikum Aiman and family,

    I am saddened by all these but the least I could do is to post all related posting into my blog so that my blog traffic get to read all these.

    I have not been a regular for the last one month with so many unlisted reasons.

    I was in KT, after you and your family came back to KL… Left KL on Wednesday night, 12th August, after receiving a sad sad sad news of the demise of my late brother-in-law, Hj.Wan Ahmad bin Hj.W.Ibrahim, my sister Hajah Fatimah Zawahir’s hubby.

    I met your beautiful aunty Karimah for the first time….

    SELAMAT MENYAMBUT RAMADHA AL MUBARAK DAN SELAMAT MENJALANKAN IBADAH PUASA. Semuga segala ujian dan dugaan yang berdamping dengan ibdah puasa ini akan mendapat barakah dan dilimpahi rahmat serta rahimNYA. amin.


  4. Dear Pakcik AbuKabir,

    Terima kasih kerana sokongan Pakcik. Kalau boleh, tolonglah panjangkan perkara ini kepada sesiapa yang pakcik kenali supaya kita rakyat Terengganu khasnya dan rakyat Malaysia amnya boleh menzahirkan bantahan supaya tidak dirobohkan lagi mana-mana bangunan bersejarah di Terengganu. Saya sedih kerana dapat melihat jam besar daripada gambar sahaja. Moga-moga seperti kata Uncle Awang Goneng, ramai lagi akan menulis tentang perkara ini. Mudah-mudahan Alllah memberkati usaha kita ini.

  5. Dear Aunty Emy,

    Takziah on the demise of Tuan Hj. Wan Ahmad bin Hj. W. Ibrahim. May Allah bless his soul.

    Please write about saving the heritage building and as Uncle Ag said in Mabuk Kepayang (Kecek-kecek), let us all write about it.

  6. My hubby gives me your blog site today to read. We are your extended family actually. My hubby, Rosnin Mustaffa was surprised to know his legacy will be demolished by the government. We have missed the news because we know nothing about it. We agreed with Pakcik Abu Kabir notes about the building suppose to be heritage building. If they can do it in Malacca, I see no reason they cannot do it in KT. Furthermore Malacca much smaller than KT. We lived in Kelang and we have few old building here. When Kelang town start to get congested, they open new town like Bandar Bukit Tinggi and divert some businesses over there. Even we have direct highway to Bukit Tinggi so we do not need to go through Kelang Town to go to new town. Since this year Raya, we will be coming back to KT, we will take the time to talk to Asuk about this. I guess this news pretty new because the last time we visit Asuk, he didn’t mentioned us about it. I hope one day I will meet you and you are such talent writer. Please pardon my bad grammar and spelling.

  7. Assalamualaikum,

    i just found about the news to demolish the heritage shophouses at Jalan Banggol, Jalan Bandar & Pasar Payang for the development of ‘double frontage’ Heritage Bay, and i am very much affected by it. Little that i know that this is part of the ECER plan.

    Anyway, i’ve set up a petition in Facebook to protest this project as i strongly think that those building should be preserved for future generations. I hope you can help support the cause. I’m planning to forward this petition to DYMM Agong. You can click on the link above and register.

    Thank you.

  8. Dear vanilla latte,
    Thank you for your support. A few days ago my mother received a call from one of the Malay traders in Jalan Banggol who was so worried about what will happen since Raya is coming. All this problem effected his Ramadan sales for he dare not order much stock for fear that we might be ‘chased out’ from our shops right after Raya.
    I hope more people will help us to preserve the heritage. Double frontage Heritage Bay? A very odd name given by the people who do not value the actual heritage.
    We lost our ‘Jam Besar”, Kampung Dato’, istanas and now…..

  9. Pingback: Say “NO” to the plan to demolish a heritage row in Kuala Terengganu « Warisan Trengganu

  10. Pingback: A Map of Trengganu « Aeshah Adlina’s Weblog

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