A 1,200-year-old 'Candi' in Lembah Bujang Has Been Secretly Wiped Out By A Developer

A candi called Candi Sungai Batu in Lembah Bujang, Kedah was recently destroyed by a developer. The Kedah state government, NGOs and netizens are angered over the demolition of the candi that is known as site number 11.

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Land Developer Who Demolished 1,200-Year-Old Candi Agrees To Rebuild It

One of the candis in Lembah Bujang.

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The demolished candi number 11 in Sungai Batu, Lembah Bujang will be rebuilt by the developer soon on the same site, said Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir.

“They (developer) regret their action and have agreed to cordon off the site from their housing development project. The company agreed to rebuild the candi structure based on the original plan, at the original site 11,” said Mukhriz.

Mukhriz said the state government had set a target to submit a dossier to Unesco by the end of next year to obtain the World Heritage Site listing from the international organisation.

We Will Only Protect Temple Ruins Which Have Historical Value, Says Mukhriz

The Kedah government is to notify all land owners to obtain its approval and that of the National Heritage Department before undertaking any construction if they find on their property structures that can be regarded as archaeological remnants.

The ancient ruins of Lembah Bujang probably covers a larger area than popularly believed, from Bukit Choras in Kedah to Cherok Tok Kun in central Seberang Prai, said a Kedah historian.

Menteri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir said the directive would be issued to avert a recurrence of the incident where a candi was destroyed in Sungai Batu in the archaeologically rich Lembah Bujang.

The Kedah government does not have enough allocation to gazette all the temple ruins in the state as there were “thousands” of them scattered around, said Menteri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir.

"There are thousands of temple ruins and if we want to gazette all of them, we need to pay the owner of the land."

"Millions of ringgit will be needed to do this, and we don't have that kind of money," he told reporters at the Putra World Trade Centre where he is attending the Umno general assembly.

A candi in Lembah Bujang.

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Application To Gazette The Candi As A Heritage Site Was Made In 2006, But The Kedah Government Never Responded

The National Heritage Department had tried to gazette the historic temple site of Lembah Bujang in 2006 as a heritage site but it was stymied by the Barisan Nasional-led Kedah state government.

Datuk Seri James Dawos Mamit, who was standing in for the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, explained that the tomb temples or candi could only be gazetted as heritage sites with the approval of the state government.

"Until today, there is no response from the state government," he said when winding up points raised by MPs on the Fees (Department of Museums Malaysia) (Validation) Bill 2013.

Badan Warisan has hit out at the developer who allegedly destroyed the eighth-century candi in Bujang Valley, saying he should rebuild it if he has “any guilty conscience”.

Datuk Seri James Dawos Mamit

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Only One Candi Is Destroyed And It Is Just A Structural Base, Says Mukhriz Mahathir

Mukhriz Mahathir tweeted that the candi that was destroyed is different from the likes of Angkor Wat and Borobudur, which are still standing.

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Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir is now downplaying the destruction of candi 11 in Sungai Batu, Lembah Bujang, saying it was merely the structural base of an ancient tomb and not even part of the original structure.

Mukhriz also said that out of 17 registered Lembah Bujang candi, only the 11th candi was destroyed.

Armed with blueprints from historical texts and research papers, an archaeological expert believes it possible to rebuild the millennia-old temple in Lembah Bujang, Kedah that was torn down by a housing developer.

The company which destroyed the ancient candi in Bujang Valley must pay for the cost of rebuilding it, said NGO Bujang Valley Study Circle chairman Datuk V. Nadarajan.
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Land Developer Says They Were Not Told About The Presence Of The Candi After Conducting A Land Search

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“Semakan dengan jelas mengatakan tanah tersebut tidak terikat dengan apa-apa. Syarikat meneruskan pembelian pada Febuari. Apabila kami melakukan semakan semula di Pejabat Tanah pada 30 Julai, sekali lagi kami mendapati ia tidak terikat dengan apa-apa,” kata pengurus projek bagi syarikah pemaju tersebut.

The Villagers Living Near The Candi Should Have Tried To Stop The Demolition, Says Former Caretakers Of Archaeological Site

Once the guardians of the ancient temple ruins that is now a pile of rubble, the Lembah Bujang Archaeological Museum did no more to raise the alarm about its shocking destruction than inform the National Heritage Department.

The museum official said they learnt of the reconstructed 8th century temple ruins’ demolition by a developer, who was clearing the land for a residential project, as far back as September.

Instead, one of its officials said the villagers near the site of the now-destroyed candi number 11 should have been the ones to try and prevent a land developer from demolishing the archaeological relic that was over 1,200 years old.

“They were staying right next to the candi, don’t tell me they didn’t know that the candi was demolished when the developer went in to clear the land two months ago? But they didn’t say anything, and now everyone creates a huge uproar over it when there’s nothing left,” he said.

“Since it is not under our purview anymore, but under the purview of the National Heritage Department, we could not do anything but only to inform them about it,” he said.

Purported debris of candi number 11 on the site where it once stood after it was demolished in Lembah Bujang, Kedah.

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Declare Lembah Bujang As World Heritage Site, MIC Tells Unesco

MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel has called on United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to declare the eighth century Bujang Valley, Kedah as a world heritage site.

The natural resources and environment minister wants the Kedah and Federal governments to take immediate action to halt the destruction of heritage sites in the Bujang Valley.

Echoing similar sentiments, the party's central working committee (CWC) member Datuk S. Murugesan called on Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir to repurchase the land to ensure that the site remained a historical site which belonged to all Malaysians.

Before and after of Candi Sungai Batu.

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Kedah Government Tells Developer To Stop Work Temporarily At Lembah Bujang

The developer who demolished a candi in Sungai Batu, Bujang Valley has agreed to temporarily stop work, says Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir. The Kedah Mentri Besar said he had asked state exco member Datuk Tajul Urus Mat Zain to get the developer to do this.

He said the state government had yet to issue an official stop-work notice to the developer. He declined to comment further pending a full report on the project.

He emphasised that the developer was not issued with a stop-work order, but was only asked to co-operate, which it did.

Locals looking around on the site where the candi number 11 used to be in Lembah Bujang, Kedah.

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Many Other Candis Were Destroyed Over The Years, Says Activist

A number of undocumented temple ruins in the Bujang Valley, the site of more than fifty ancient tomb temples dating back to 8th century, have been destroyed over the years, reveals an activist.

Datuk V. Nadarajan, who heads a non-governmental organisation calling itself Bujang Valley Study Circle, said some temple ruins there had been demolished in recent years without public knowledge.

"There were several that were never reconstructed or excavated but they were already destroyed and paved over in the Sungai Batu area near Candi (tomb temple) number 11," he said.

"I learned this from residents around the area. They said the developers dug out the ruins, cleared the land and got rid of the debris," Nadarajan told The Malaysian Insider who visited the site yesterday.

An excavator and a lorry seen clearing what used to be the site of candi number 11, which was destroyed, in Bujang Valley, Kedah.

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1200-Year-Old Candi Sungai Batu In Lembah Bujang Was Secretly Demolished By A Land Developer

Prehistoric ruins at an archaeological site in Bujang Valley some 1,200 years old were secretly demolished by a land developer, a Penang lawmaker said yesterday, even as Badan Warisan Malaysia seeks to list the historical spot as a Unesco world heritage site.

The chairman of NGO Bujang Valley Study Circle said the developer had now demolished the most famous 8th century temple remnants known as Candi Sungai Batu estate or Bujang Valley site 11.

The destruction of candi number 11, rebuilt on its original site back in the 1970s by an archaeological team, was chanced upon by a scholar who happened to be investigating the historical valley.

Demolition works, which took place near an oil palm estate, were said to have gone on for over a month, according to Penang Deputy Chief Minister II, Dr P. Ramasamy, who visited the site.

Artist impression of Candi Sungai Batu.

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Permission To Clear The Land Was Given By The Merbok Land Office But The Kedah Government Said They Know Nothing About The Demoliton

The Penand Deputy Chief Minister said he learned that the Merbok land office had given the developer the green light to clear the land because "there were no historical sites".

State government officials have denied knowledge of any demolition of ancient temples going on at the 8th century heritage site in Bujang Valley, Kedah.

A housing developer who is said to have demolished an ancient tomb temple, or candi, in Lembah Bujang, Kedah, could have deliberately failed to inform the Sungai Petani Municipal Council about the structure within its development plan, said Kedah state exco member Mohd Rawi Abd Hamid.

“The developer could have ignored to inform the officers about the candi’s location. The officers could also have overlooked the significance of the area,” he told The Star.

The Kedah Government Is Unable To Stop The Demolition Because The Land Is Privately Owned

The Kedah state government said it is powerless to stop a developer from destroying ancient tombs and temples in Lembah Bujang because the area is privately owned.

Noting that the incident attracted a lot of negative criticism, Kedah Youth and Sports, Arts, Culture and Heritage and Non-governmental Organisations Committee chairman Aminuddin Omar said the 1,200 year old site was also not gazetted as a historical site.

Professor Jimmy Lim, who is the sole surviving founding member of Badan Warisan Malaysia, said the Kedah government must act to stop development at the site, and urged the ruins to be archaeologically restored at all costs.

Experts Will Be Brought In To Investigate And Handle The Issue, Says Kedah Government

Stung by the public’s ire over the apparent inaction that allowed a 1,200-year-old temple ruin in Lembah Bujang to be destroyed, the Kedah government said it was engaging a university to determine how to preserve what was left of the prehistoric archaeological site.

Aminuddin said the state government was aware of the situation but needed experts to investigate the site before any action could be taken.

"The state government will see how this discussion goes for now before we plan our next course of action. There may be a need to study the area carefully and determine which parts of the valley should be preserved," Aminuddin Omar added.

The demolition site in Lembah Bujang.

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Reactions By Netizens Towards The Demoliton Of Candi Sungai Batu

Netizens took to Twitter to vent their anger over the reported demolition of an ancient candi, or tomb temple, in Lembah Bujang, Kedah, to make way for a housing development project.
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Lembah Bujang Is The Ancient Site Of The Kedah Tua Kingdom

Lembah Bujang is a sprawling historical complex and has an area of approximately 224 square km. Situated near Merbok, Kedah, between Gunung Jerai in the north and Muda River in the south, it is the richest archaeological area in Malaysia.

The area consists of ruins that may date more than 2000 years old. More than 50 ancient tomb temples, called candi, have also been unearthed.

The team from USM’s Centre for Global Archaeological Research (PPAG) has unearthed evidence of ancient artifacts and an iron smelting site in Kedah dating back to 110 AD.
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The 101-year-old Sri Muneswarar Kaliayaman Hindu temple was further demolished Sunday morning despite a meeting pending with the deputy minister of the Federal Territories Ministry later this month. [CLICK ON LINK FOR FULL STORY]
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