Future Foundations
Tatler Malaysia|March 2021
We speak to a few of the new council members at Badan Warisan Malaysia of 2021 about what it takes to preserve a nation’s cultural identity in a time of unrest and economic decline
Koyyi Chin

Picture this: a young student on the cusp of adulthood is sat hunched over his desk as he stares at his sejarah paper, desperately trying to remember the history notes he’s branded into memory a few hours ago. Then, in the blink of an eye, he graduates with little to no fanfare, the exam a fever dream and history notes scattered to the wind, only to come back in hazy bits and pieces as his adult self happens upon articles or tourist destinations without so much as a small, surprised, “oh, I remember learning this at school”.

The moment passes, and he moves on; the past stays in the past. But the question remains still: what happens when we forget? And where do we go from here when our foundation as a people, built upon stories carved in wood, stone and even in ourselves, starts to fade with the passage of time?

And those very questions were what fuelled the inception of Badan Warisan Malaysia (the Malaysian Heritage Trust) in 1983, the nation’s leading nongovernmental organisation that sought to conserve and preserve historically as well as culturally significant architecture or areas of the nation, while raising awareness towards them and influencing policies to create a conservation-friendly environment.

‘To educate, engage and empower’ is the organisation’s motto, and it’s become a legacy-cum-mantle which the new council of Badan Warisan Malaysia has taken up at a time where change has never been more necessary than ever. Its president Lim Wei-Ling, who is also the founder and director of her eponymous art gallery, says as much, having taken over the organisation in January last year with Covid-19 hitting the nation in full-force just two months later.

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