Mill Hill Block project gets RM2.5 mln from state government

Abang Johari (fourth right) presents a cheque to Chua while others look on.

KUCHING: The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government gave a grant amounting to RM2.5 million to the St Joseph school’s Mill Hill Block (1894) restoration project.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg received a courtesy call from the St Joseph School Board of Management at his office in Wisma Bapa Malaysia here today.

The delegation briefed him on the development and restoration progress of the Mill Hill Block.

The state government had previously given RM1.5 million to the project and the Old Josephians Association (OJA) has been actively conducting various fundraising activities to raise funds.

The Mill Hill Block, which consists of a main building in the centre with two wings, was declared unsafe by the Public Works Department (JKR) in 2018. Its closure resulted in a shortage of classrooms as there were 12 classrooms in the two wings.

In 2019, a committee comprising the school’s board of management and OJA was formed to look into the repair works. It was revealed that the total cost for the restoration project would amount to RM5.5 million.

The Mill Hill Block is historical and iconic because the main building was opened in 1894 by Rajah Charles Brooke, the Second White Rajah of Sarawak.

The January 1895 issue of Sarawak Gazette described the new St Joseph building as “the largest private work carried out in 1894 and indeed the largest building in Kuching.”

Moreover, the Sarawak government had gazetted the main building, which housed the De La Salle Brothers, as a heritage building under the Sarawak Cultural Heritage Ordinance 1993 in 2010.

Abang Johari presented the cheque to Christopher Chua, the acting chairman of Mill Hill Restoration Project and acting chairman of the Board of St Joseph school, in a simple ceremony.

Among those present were Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian, who is also OJA president; Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah; board patron Archbishop Simon Poh; and board member Gerald Lee.