PETALING JAYA - The "finders keepers" policy does not apply to those who come across artefacts of cultural value, as far as the National Heritage Department is concerned.
A department official said Section 47 of the National Heritage Act 2005 states that finders should notify a commissioner of heritage or a district officer to declare their find.
"Any object discovered after the Act was enforced, automatically becomes absolute property of the Federal Government.
"Once we are notified, a team will be dispatched to evaluate whether the find can be classified as a heritage item," she said.
If the item is found to be a heritage artefact, the commissioner will take it for safekeeping. He can also, at his discretion, pay a reasonable compensation to the finder, landowner, or the informant.
Any dispute regarding compensation will be referred to the Tourism and Culture Minister, whose decision will be final.
On how long the evaluation process usually takes, the officer said it differed based on the type and condition of the object found, but noted that it will "take time".
"There are some who do not declare their discoveries, perhaps because they are unaware of the Act or they underestimate the values of the items.