SIBU: Assistant Minister of Education, Science and Technology Research Dr Annuar Rapaee has channelled a RM50,000 fund for doing research on the Lau King Howe Hospital Memorial Museum here and producing a working paper on conserving it.
He said University College of Technology Sarawak (UCTS) had been given six months to complete the project before handing over the results to the state government in an effort to conserve the building.
“This museum is very important to us because it is the only hospital to have its own museum in Malaysia and still keeps its old materials and artefacts in a building like this,” Dr Annuar told reporters after witnessing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between the Lau King Howe Hospital Memorial Museum Association Sibu and UCTS here today (April 7).
The MoU was signed by Lau King Howe Hospital Memorial Museum Association Sibu chairman Temenggong Datuk Vincent Lau Lee Ming and UCTS Chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Khairuddin Abdul Hamid.
Dr Annuar, who is also UCTS chairman and Nangka assemblyman, explained that Lau King Howe Hospital was built in 1936 and demolished in 1994 after the area was developed into Sibu Town Square Phase II and a commercial centre. It was replaced by Sibu Hospital located at Mile 5 1/2, Jalan Ulu Oya.
“Lau King Howe Hospital left behind a lot of memories because many of us were born there,” said Dr Annuar.
“When it was demolished, only this museum building, which covers less than 10 percent of the hospital, was preserved by the museum association which was established for conservation purposes.”
He said about 8,000 people visited the museum each year since it opened to the public in 2008. Out of the total, 3,398 visitors were from outside Sibu district.
“I understand that in May last year when the museum reopened after being closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of visitors was about 1,777. It was closed again following the re-implementation of the movement control order (MCO),” added Dr Annuar.
Meanwhile, Dr Khairuddin, in his speech, said under the MoU, the museum association would appoint a team of professional architects, professional IT experts and lecturers from UCTS as project consultants for the renovation and conservation works of the museum.
He explained that to proceed with any development work to the location or building, including maintenance of improvement works, a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) and Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) needed to be completed as stipulated under the Sarawak Heritage Ordinance 2019.
“Building survey reports also need to be completed to ascertain the structure and condition of the existing structures to record all building damages.
“The report will be used to recommend the type of conservation work to be done. A major conservation work involves a combination of preservation and conservation of historic artefacts and historic objects,” he explained.
Dr Khairuddin also said that his team would be responsible for the digitisation of document exhibitions and museums.
“They will also be involved in the design and development of animated characters based on the history of the hospital,” he said.
According to him, the UCTS team will also produce three short animated clips to illustrate the founders and history of the hospital.
Dr Khairuddin revealed that UCTS had also been involved in the conservation work of Al-Qadim Mosque in Sibu, Fort Brooke in Julau, Fort Emma in Kanowit and Fort Lily in Betong.
Also present during the MoU signing ceremonyt were Senator Robert Lau Hui Yew and Dean of the Faculty of Environmental Architecture, UCTS Haris Fadzilah Abdul Rahman.