PETALING JAYA - The future of the 637-year history of Naning heritage in Malacca has come under question with the state government's move to take back its community's hall and its chieftain's official home.
Alor Gajah District Officer Daud Hassan has ordered the 19th Naning chieftain Datuk Abdul Latif Hashim to vacate the two buildings in Simpang Ampat, Malacca by tomorrow.
The eviction notice dated Aug 18, was delivered to the Naning Hall on Aug 26.
Daud said the letter stated that the state wanted to convert the hall and home into a museum.
"We appeal to YAM Datuk Orang Kaya Seri Raja Merah, Datuk Abdul Latif Datuk Hj Hashim to vacate the buildings by Sept 15 to facilitate rehabilitation," Daud wrote in the letter.
In response, Abdul Latif questioned the rational of wiping out a living heritage in favour of yet another museum displaying inanimate objects.
"This is a blatant attempt to wipe out the Naning heritage," he said.
"We have dutifully upheld the Adat Perpatih culture for centuries.
"All our ceremonial events are held in the balai (hall). Without the ceremonial hall, our culture, tradition, and heritage will be wiped out," he said.
The Malacca Government, he added, would be making a mockery of the world Unesco heritage status if it continued with its plans to deny Naning its existence in national history.
Some of the Naning chieftains, including Datuk Dol Said (the ninth chieftain) and Datuk Othman Kering (16th chieftain), are in the annals of the Malaysian history as they fought valiantly against foreign occupation, Abdul Latif said.
Historian Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim said the Naning proponents could challenge the case in the court of law.
"The old traditions and ceremonial powers that existed before 1957 come under the jurisdiction of the Federal Constitution," he said.
"Whether a certain culture is worth saving depends on the people, and the government by the people for the people.
"It is up to the people to decide," he added.