Preservation Versus Restoration Versus Renovation A Visit To Masjid Pokok Assam Klebang Melaka
Been in Melaka last couple of days and yesterday I visited the quaint and cute Masjid Pokok Assam in Klebang. When we lived in Melaka 48 years ago I used to attend Friday prayers at this masjid. It was not only the cutest mosque (really small - just one room size) but it is (or was) located almost on the beach. I used to sit beside the door that opened to the sea and enjoyed watching the waves (of course while listening carefully to the sermon at the same time).
In the picture below you can see the actual size of the original mosque. It is held up by those four wooden pillars which are slightly further apart than my two arms' length. It is made of wood (pillars, roof structure) bricks and mortar and I believe the mosque is way over 100 years old.
Over the years the mosque has been enlarged. (The lower picture). The original structure of the mosque has all but disappeared because a larger 'wing' has been added which hides the original shape of the mosque.
The sea is not visible anymore because they have built a sort of kitchen or bathroom that blocks off the view of the sea. What a terrible shame.
The sea has also been reclaimed and although a lagoon has been left behind, just beyond it is a mound of earth which is the reclaimed land. So (in my opinion) the mosque has lost its most alluring attraction - other than the alluring prayers and alluring sermons of course.
Melaka being such a historical state with a very long "modern history" (500 years old) it has thousands of old buildings each with its own story to tell. Invariably many of the oldest structures found in Melaka are places of worship (mosques, churches, Chinese, Buddhist and Hindu Temples) many of which are still in use. Plus areas like the entire Heeren Street (Jalan Tan Cheng Lock) were built largely by the Dutch or during the Dutch colonial period (from the 17th century).
It is important that all these old buildings be carefully preserved. However the places of worship, the houses and other buildings that are still being used should be more carefully preserved so that renovations and expansions (like at the Masjid Pokok Assam) do not remove or reduce the original structure of the mosque. And please do not block off the view to the sea. Anywhere (else) in the world the sea view is just premium. You simply do not block off the sea view for any reason.
In our country we have the brain dead, political-patronage system awarding contracts to contractors to replace almost priceless colonial era lamp posts and cast iron post boxes because 'sudah lama, kena tukar dengan baru'. The 'tukar dengan baru' includes lamp posts made from "galvanised iron sheets".
The brain dead reasoning is (or rather it appears to be) they wish to erase the colonial heritage in the country. The 'penjajah' heritage.
I dont think so. It is just an excuse for some local crony to make some money from replacing old but perfectly functioning stuff - regardless of the fact that they are historically valuable relics - and worth millions of Ringgit in tourist spending. (And then they wonder 'kenapa anak saya kerja Food Delivery pula')
'Erase colonial heritage' etc is just a cheap smokescreen. Why do you want to erase the colonial period? It is part of our history. How exactly do you erase history? If Kublai Khan invaded China, then Kublai Khan invaded China. That is a historical fact. The Chinese can never erase that fact.
Anyway, akhirul kalam, kepada AJK Masjid Pokok Assam di Melaka saya ingin buat dua cadangan kepada tuan-tuan :
1. Sila menebas semua rumput, lalang dan semak di belakang masjid (menghala ke laut) so that pemandangan laut boleh dipulihkan sedikit. Keadaan semak dan lalang di belakang itu memang mencemar keindahan Masjid Pokok Assam. Kita kena jaga standard masjid.
2. Sila kaji sejarah dan asal-usul Masjid Pokok Assam dan sila tuliskan dan pamerkan sejarah itu di perkarangan masjid. So that orang yang datang melawat boleh baca dan faham sejarah dan asal usul masjid. Memang pun fungsi masjid ialah untuk sembahyang dan agama tetapi jangan lupakan sejarah masjid itu sendiri.
Tulislah 'Syed Akbar Ali was here'. Bergurau saja.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.By Syed Akbar Ali
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