Save our Heritage for Our Future Generation
PRESS RELEASE: 7 OCTOBER 2012
KOTA KINABALU: Sabahans should not be encouraged to sell their heirlooms, according to NGO Heritage Sabah spokesperson Richard Nelson Sokial. He said this in response to Sabah Museum’s call for Sabahans to sell their heirlooms to the museum as a way of sharing their stories.
The NGO believes that buying heirlooms is not the right approach as it will cause a lot of negative social implications. “We are very concerned by this statement to buy antiques from the public because despite the good intentions of the museum, we feel that it will give the wrong impression to many locals that our heritage is for sale, “he said.
Sokial claims that over the past several years, antiques such as burial jars and its contents have been stolen from its original site to be sold by unscrupulous people. He says that the NGO feels Sabah Museum’s intent to buy heirlooms from the public will only make the situation worse.
“We suggest that the only items that Sabah Museum should consider purchasing are the ones that have been found sold to private collections overseas, and to only acquire items identified by researchers and curators of being crucial to the understanding of the social and economic development of Sabahan native culture at the milestones of our state’s history”.
Sokial, who was invited by the U.S. State Department as Malaysia’s only representative for the IVLP Cultural Heritage Preservation 2008 held in Washinton, D.C. says “Even though our NGO is still new, Heritage Sabah is seeing a need to empower the local Sabahans, particularly the younger generation, to value and know the intrinsic worth of their heritage”.
“If families so wish, they can entrust the heirloom to the care of Sabah Museum, but it should be as a donation or on loan, not for sale”.
“However, for every donated artifact, there must be a system of recording and tracking down the item”, he advised.
The NGO suggests that heirloom donors should be given a certificate of donation by the museum, bearing the name, image, date of acquisition by museum, description of the item as well as its reference number and official stamp and signature of the museum official who processed the transfer of item, so that the family can visit the museum to inspect the condition of their donated heirlooms upon request.
“During my stint in the U.S for the IVLP Cultural Heritage Preservation Programme in 2008, I observed that some museums even had catalogues of items donated to the museum which is published for public reference”, he added.
“Heritage Sabah’s suggestion is relevant because at the other end of the spectrum, our NGO has received verbal complaints from some members of the public who claim that in the past, several precious and irreplaceable items donated to the Sabah Museum have allegedly gone missing.
This is one of the main reasons why donors are reluctant to part with their heirlooms, as they believe that there is no guarantee of its safety”. He added that it is standard practice for museums everywhere to only display a third of their collections, the rest is either put into storage or for some cases, carefully restored with the help of experts in artifact preservation.
“To inspire public confidence, the Sabah Museum should be allocated some proper funding to upgrade their storage facility for better security for the artifacts acquired such as custom ID identification, 24-hour CCTV, etc.
Sabah Museum carries an immense public responsibility as the custodian for Sabah’s history and culture and it needs the support from the public and concerned NGOs like Heritage Sabah to assist and suggest new ways to showcase our culture in a positive way”, he said.
Free Malaysia Today: ‘Sell us your heirloom’ call slammed