Conservation works unearth new artefacts

The new look of Fort Emma, which has undergone conservation and upgrading works.

KANOWIT: New artefacts were discovered by the Sarawak Museum Department while they were doing conservation and upgrading works of Fort Emma here.

According to acting director Tazudin Mohtar, the artefacts, in the form of ceramic fragments and small cannon balls, were believed to date back to the 17th century.

“This finding proves that there have been incidents here in the past, and I was made to understand that two government officials during Brooke’s era were killed in Kanowit.

“We will study these artefacts and will display them at the fort exhibition area along with other artefacts,” he said at the handover ceremony of Fort Emma here yesterday.

At the event, the project completion report was presented by Crest Realty Sdn Bhd’s (contractor) representative Wong Fak Ming to Public Works Department (JKR) Sarawak central region manager Anding Unchi.

The document was then handed over by Anding to Tazudin, witnessed by Machan assemblyman Allan Siden Gramong.

Allan (seated third left) during the miring ceremony.

Meanwhile, commenting on the conserving and upgrading processes of Fort Emma, Tazudin said the project, which cost about RM5 million, was already completed in February this year.

“We will slowly upgrade this fort into a heritage museum in the future.

“Fort Emma, which is over 160 years old, is among the five forts built during the Brooke colonial era that will be preserved and upgraded under the 11th Malaysia Plan.

“The other forts are Fort Lily in Betong, Fort Brooke (Julau), Fort Hose (Marudi) as well as Fort Sylvia (Kapit),” he said.

On another note, Tazudin stated that the department planned to hold roadshows next year in an effort to educate the public on the new Sarawak Heritage Ordinance 2019.

“These roadshows are planned to start from Lawas and end in Kuching.

“We want the public, especially the youth, to know the role and responsibilities of government agencies in preserving the historical heritage in the state.

“This new rule was passed during the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting in November last year which included four new elements that were never covered by the Sarawak Cultural Heritage Ordinance 1993, namely administration, duties and responsibilities of directors, marine heritage and enforcement,” he explained.

Also held during the event was a miring ceremony, which involved the returning of nine human skulls back into Fort Emma. The skulls had previously been temporarily relocated to a hut outside the fort to enable conservation and upgrade works to be carried out.

Meanwhile, Allan said this fort played an important role in educating children as well as future generations about the historical events that took place in Kanowit.

Moreover, he added that the fort, which would be upgraded to a heritage museum in the future, would have a big impact on the socioeconomic development of the locals as it would be one of the unique attractions for tourists to visit Kanowit.