ASEAN wants more World Heritage Sites

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This file photo shows Buddhist monks conducting prayers at the Borobudur temple during Vesak day in Magelang.
Photo: AFP

There are 38 heritage sites in Southeast Asia that have been gazetted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as World Heritage Sites (WHS). The WHS is a collection of buildings, landmarks and locations that have been preserved for their special cultural or physical significance.

The program has a unique global reach, showcasing culturally rich and ancient sites as well as heritage towns and natural parks for the world to admire. To be named a WHS, countries must first sign the World Heritage Convention before they can pledge their respective natural and cultural heritage sites for inclusion in the UNESCO WHS list. The sites will initially be added to a tentative list for review and approval, before submission for eventual nomination.

Tentative list

It is a highly competitive and time-consuming process to achieve UNESCO WHS status. Currently, there are at least 83 sites in ASEAN sitting on the UNESCO tentative list. The waiting period can belong. Thailand has been waiting since 2004 for the nomination of its Phimai Historical Park. The Plain of Jars and Vientiane in Lao have been on the tentative list since 1992.

Indonesia’s Bogor Botanical Gardens made it to the UNESCO tentative list a month ago. Located in West Java, the site is known for its vast plant collection and historical value of its buildings and landscape. Indonesia currently has 20 sites on the UNESCO tentative list.

Malaysia now has five sites on the UNESCO tentative list, with the most recent addition being the Sungai Buloh Leprosarium in 2019. Built-in 1930, the centre was a self-contained settlement, with huge farmlands at the hill slope, for patients to cultivate vegetables, fruits and farm poultry on a larger scale.

From the tentative list, only 44 destinations around the globe were nominated for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage list this year. Among them is Sawahlunto in West Sumatra, which was proposed as a WHS four years ago. According to West Sumatra Tourism, Youth and Sports Agency head Efriyanto, Sawahlunto, it is the “oldest coal mining town in Southeast Asia.” The site landmarks include preserved cultural heritage items, though other attractions were added to boost the city’s tourism potential.

Read the full article at THE ASEAN POST:

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