NUSAJAYA - The state government has instructed Yayasan Warisan Johor (YWJ) to investigate if the recently demolished mansion along Jalan Lumba Kuda here was actually the previous home of famous philanthropist and contractor Wong Ah Fook.
State Youth, Sports, Cultural and Heritage Committee chairman Datuk Zulkurnain Kamisan said that since the building had been demolished, the state government did not see the need for it to be reconstructed and gazetted as a heritage site.
"We're not even sure if Wong had stayed there, as checks with the district land office revealed that a total of 12 people from Singapore were named as the landowners and no official documents indicated that the mansion once belonged to Wong or that he had lived there.
"However, YWJ had been instructed to carry out an in-depth study on Wong and on the mansion to clarify the matter," he said in reply to a question posed by Andrew Chen Kah Eng (Stulang - DAP) yesterday.
Zulkurnain assured that the state government had gone all-out to protect the historical building during the initial stages of investigation and said that no consent was given to demolish the building.
"I have also discussed with the Johor Baru City Council on taking action against the landowner who demolished the building in the wee hours of the morning without an approval," he said, adding that those responsible could be heavily fined.
It was reported that the mansion, believed to have been more than 150 years old, had belonged to Wong.
It was demolished by its owners at about 1am on April 30 despite strong motions to preserve and gazette it as a heritage site.
Zulkurnain also said that the YWJ has listed some 170 historical sites and monuments across the state and out of the total, 22 buildings have been approved to be gazetted as heritage sites.
"Up to now, six sites, buildings and monuments have been gazetted under the Antiquities Act 1976 Ancient Monument and Historical Sites while another two sites were classified as heritage sites under the National Heritage Act 2005," he said.