Hindraf today urged the tourism and culture ministry to act swiftly to safeguard the artefacts found from the Majapahit era in Malacca, adding that international bodies should also be alerted to the find.
“The find is not surprising given the history of Malaysia and Indonesia,” said Hindraf Chairman P Waythamoorthy.
The Hindraf chief said Malaysia should seek assistance from Unesco and inter-governmental advisory bodies on the Majapahit artefacts.
The other bodies, he suggested, may be the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos), and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (Iccrom).
He warned against the Bujang Valley episode repeating itself when work starts on exploring the Majapahit find.
“An Unesco team created a master plan in 1977 to preserve the site and its monuments.
“However, unwarranted destruction took place in the Bujang Valley site about three years ago,” he said, attributing this to the ineffectiveness of local and Federal Government agencies.
“No effort was made to establish Bujang Valley as a World Heritage site,” said Waythamoorthy.
The National Heritage Department has all the necessary authority vested by the Heritage Act 2005, he stressed.
Majapahit, the last Indianised kingdom in Indonesia, was based in eastern Java. It was founded by Prince Vijaya of Singhasari in Java Timur.
Majapahit existed between the 13th and 16th centuries from 1293 to 1527.
It was reported yesterday that relics dating back to the 13th-century Majapahit empire were believed to have been found along a 2km stretch, about 20 metres beneath the Malacca river.
A group of professional divers discovered parts of a Hindu temple and a fort-like structure two weeks ago.
The submerged city is believed to have existed even before Parameswara founded Malacca in 1400.
The Majapahit kingdom is believed to have made Malacca their maritime headquarters.
The Malacca Museum Corporation has confirmed that relics from the Majapahit age have been salvaged from the river since the late 1990s.