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National Heritage Act - Akta Warisan Negara 2005

National Heritage Act 2005, was legalized on March 1st in Malaysia to replace two previous acts: Treasure Trove Act (Akta Harta Karun) 1957 and Relics and Antiquities Act (Akta Benda Purba) in 1976.

This act is based on UNESCO Convention on the protection of natural and cultural heritage. It is also based on UNESCO Convention to safeguard intangible cultural heritage. Both English Heritage and New South Wales Heritage served as a guideline to draw this act too, together with National Heritage Policy.

So, what is this act?

It is an act to allow for restoration and conservation of National Heritage, Natural Heritage, tangible and intangible Cultural Heritage, underwater Cultural Heritage and other related matters.

 What is the definition of Heritage? It is best described in this diagram below:

heritage chart

The Act allows for:

  • The appointment of a Heritage Commissioner
  • The establishment of National Heritage Council
  • The establishment of National Heritage Fund
  • The listing of National Heritage List

The Heritage Commissioner is responsible for:

  • locating the specific heritage site, register of objects and above the land, underground and below water.
  • building and maintaining the Register as well as placing these relics and objects under the correct categories.
  • overseeing and supervising conservation and restoration; giving encouragement;  maintaining display and also public access.
  • giving out permission for excavation and overseeing and supervising sites which are dug for their heritage values.
  • establishing and maintaining relationship with the State Authority regarding heritage conservation and restoration
  • coordinating with local town planners, city council and other entities as well as giving advise for the purpose of heritage conservation and restoration
  • advising the Ministry for any matters regarding to heritage conservation and restoration

National Heritage Register includes:

  • Heritage Sites
  • Heritage Relics
  • Underwater Cultural Heritage
  • Living Heritage

There are nine criteria that can be used to list a site, human or object as National Heritage. The council will decide whether any of these is worthy to be listed. Not all criteria have to be fulfilled before the candidate is listed as a National Heritage in this National Heritage Act.

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