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Archives 2008

Some items from the press relating to caves

Contents :

Crystals at Gunung Keriang
Perak to reopen mining land
Batu Caves Cave Villa
Sarawak dams, Mulu
Niah archaeology
Bukit Tengkorak, Sabah
Man killed in Nam Tao Yan Temple


Crystals at Gunung Keriang

From Bernama, April 09 :

Kedah Tourism Banking On Traditional Village And Crystal Cave

The tourism industry in Kedah has been given a RM11 million boost with the development of two new products, the Traditional Village and Crystal Cave at Gunung Keriang on the outskirt of Alor Star.
State Economic Planning Unit (UPEN) director Datuk Bashiruddin Abdul Jamil said the two projects implemented since October last year will be ready by June.
"The new tourism products will add to Kedah's tourist destinations and help reach the target of 3.88 million visitors during Visit Kedah Year (VKY)," he told reporters after opening the VKY 2008 seminar at Universiti Utara Malaysia, (UUM) here Wednesday.
Bashiruddin said the traditional village costing RM6 million will be part of the Padi Museum. It will display traditional Kedah materials and food.
"Tourists entering the traditional village will have to put on the Malay sarong and get to savour traditional Malay cuisines," he said.
Development of the crystal cave costing RM5 million includes decorative lighting and a lift to transport tourists to have a closer look at crystal rocks.
Other tourism projects underway include a Diamond Jubilee Garden costing RM10 million on a 12 hectare site at Suka Menanti near Alor Star, the Sultan Abdul Halim Memorial, renovation of the Balai Besar and landscape beautification.
"All the projects are expected to be completed by July and will become products of travel packages for tourists to Kedah starting from Langkawi to the mainland."
Bashiruddin said the website portal www.visitkedah.com which received about one million hits in December last year received strong response with 3.2 million hits early this month.
"I am confident that the target of 1.1 million tourists to Kedah mainland and 2.78 million to Langkawi or a total of 3.88 million tourists this year is within reach. Some 3.1 million tourists visited Kedah last year," he added.


Perak to reopen mining land

Humayun Kabir


IPOH (June 2, 2008):

With prices of minerals in the world market reaching record levels, the Perak government has announced it is tapping the state's mineral resources by reopening mining land and issuing permits for the development of the mining industry.

"The state will issue licences and give permits to further open up the mining industry. The companies undertaking such projects must first ensure the quality of minerals is high and they can sustain the operation for a long period of time," said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin

"The companies must also undertake their own exploration of minerals, which will take at four to six months, after which permits will be issued early next year."

The prices of tin, iron ore and gold have increased four-fold in the last four years, due to huge demand from countries like China and India which are now industrial giants.

For instance, the price of tin soared from US$4,900 (RM16,048) per tonne in 2003 to US$20,000 today, while iron ore which was traded at US$31 (RM105) in 2003 is now trading at US$130 (RM442) per tonne. The price of gold has risen from US$363 (RM1,234) to US894 (RM3,040) per ounce.

Mohammad Nizar said if there is an urgent need for additional licences and permits for limestone quarries, the government will review the situation.

However, such operators must do their own survey and must ensure the project goes on for at least 30 years and to ensure the safety of residents living nearby, he said.

"They must produce the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report and go high-tech to ensure emissions of dust and vibrations do not occur and the quarry must be located away from residential areas." he said after opening the National Geoscience Conference 2008.

Asked by reporters about the RM8 million development fund which was allegedly used up within 75 days by the previous Barisan Nasional government, Mohammad Nizar said if they had used up the money for the benefit of the people, it is acceptable.

However, he said if it was used for some other purpose like campaigning in the last general election, "we want the public to pass judgement on such wastage of public funds".

The development fund by the Federal government consists of RM75,000 allocation to each BN assemblyman with an additional RM100,000 given to each state exco-member.

Later, Minerals and Geo-science Department Malaysia director-general Datuk Yunus Abdul Razak said the Bill for the proposed Federal Mineral Development Act which will regulate the profession of geology, is expected to be passed in Parliament soon.

"Perak holds great potential in tapping natural limestone caves which are now used as temples, granite features, and former mining pools like Gunung Lang which can all be repacked for geo-conservation and geo-tourism," said Yunus who is Geological Society of Malaysia president.

Perak has a lot of tin and iron reserves, ex-mining sand used for construction and good reserves of clay in Taiping, Bidor and Tapah.


New draw at Batu Caves Cave

Saturday April 12, 2008

New draw at Batu Caves Cave



THE huge statue of the Hindu deity Lord Murugan with his vel (lance) has, for years, been catching the eye of visitors to the Batu Caves in Gombak, but now, it has a new attraction – the Cave Villa.

Barely a month has passed since it opened, but the Cave Villa has already drawn thousands of visitors from all over the world who have come to savour a cultural experience in a cave environment.

Deity incarnation: Nadaraja (centre), the symbol of the dance, is an incarnation of Lord Shiva. It is one of the many Hindu deities featured in the gallery.

The entrance to the Cave Villa beckons good fortune with a koi pond leading to the outdoor gallery that features a 10.4m-long veenai (Indian classical musical instrument) and tranquil surrounding.

The instrument was made by 200 students from the Indian Cultural Club of Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), Kedah.

There are three indoor galleries, which are illuminated by colourful lights to set the mood.

The first gallery, is the Valluvar Kottam, which is similar to the one in Chennai, India, where all 1,330 verses of the Thirukkural – the epic by the Tamil poet and saint Thiruvalluvar – are inscribed on the walls.

Going deeper into the cave, one will come to the Reptile Gallery or mini-zoo, where a variety of snakes, turtles, tortoises, terrapins and iguanas captivate visitors.

The Art Gallery houses life-like images of the Hindu deities and mythological figures – Ram with his wife Sita, Laxman, Bharath, Hanuman and Ganesh, to name a few.

Each statue portrays the deity as they are traditionally depicted, while some are portrayed in scenes, like the wedding of Lord Murugan with Devayanai held at the Tirupparankundram, in India.

Bird lovers, meanwhile, will undoubtedly be enticed by the prospect of seeing more than 50 species of colourful birds in a huge 186 sq metres aviary Visitors may also take photographs with the birds.

To seal the deal, cultural performances of bharathanatyam and other classical Indian dances are staged for tourists.

Cave Villa chief executive officer K. Rajan said work on the project started in June last year.

“We use LED lights to set the mood as well as to create the desired effect inside the caves.

“The statues and sculptures were created by craftsmen from India, who took about eight months to renovate the galleries as well as work on the exterior artwork,” he said.

Wise ones: The three wise monkeys, which (from right) see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil.

Rajan said the mini-zoo was not quite finished, with about 20% of work still to be done.

“We are still gathering some of the materials and equipment needed for the animals.”

On the running of the mini-zoo, Rajan said a caretaker came in regularly to look after the animals. “They are fed and given veterinary care. We also take them out for natural sunlight occasionally,” he said, adding that the temperature in the mini-zoo was controlled.

According to him, there are maintenance personnel to look after the landscaping and take charge of the overall area.

To Rajan, the Cave Villa is a work in progress, and he is keen to add more items to draw visitors.

“We plan to include the roti canai and teh tarik show in our cultural show. The visitors will be govn free teh tarik and roti canai as part of the event,“ he said.

Rajan said more tourists were expected to come next month.

Cave Villa is open to the public and tour groups from 8am to 5pm daily.

There is also an evening show package (for tourists only) from 6pm to 10pm. For details, call 012-910 8389.


12 new dams in Sarawak, 1 may affect Mulu

In July 2008 it was reported in several places of Malaysian media that Sarawak wants to build 12 new dams for HEP. One of these, on the Tutoh, could possibly affect Mulu.

July 24, 2008 00:52 AM

Tutoh Dam Can Affect Mulu National Park's Heritage Site Status

KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 (Bernama) -- Sarawak plans to build the Tutoh dam may affect the Mulu National Park's status as a World Heritage Site, said an environmentalist.

Centre for Environment Technology and Development Malaysia (CETDEM) Chairman Gurmit Singh told a news conference today that the proposed dam might submerge parts of the Mulu National Park.

The Tutoh dam is part of 12 new proposed hydroelectric projects in Sarawak to meet its future industrialisation needs.

"We have been reliably informed that the Director of the World Heritage Center has requested the Malaysian authorities, via its permanent delegation to Unesco, to clarify this situation on June 25.

"(It wants Malaysia) to provide further information on the hydropower plans to the World Heritage Center for review and comment by the World Conservation Union.

"Till today, they have yet to reply and that has been nearly a month ago," he said.

Gurmit Singh also called on the government to advise the Sarawak government to be cautious and not to rush into the development of energy intensive industries.

The firebrand nature lover said the repercussions to the environment with the development of Sarawak's 12 Dam project could be severe and irreversible.

He said the Sarawak's 12 Dam project was a reflection "on the shortsightedness and gaps in the nation's energy and environmental policies."

"The plan illustrated an energy planning strategy that is supply driven and inconsistent with the principles of sustainable development.

"It makes little sense to build 12 additional dams since Bakun Dam has the capacity to generate three times the amount of energy that is currently consumed by Sarawakians," he said.

Gurmit Singh said he was also willing to engage the Sarawak government in an open dialogue on the project.

Deputy Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum had said that the dams were necessary to meet energy demand.

The dams will be located in Ulu Air, Metjawah, Belaga, Baleh, Belepeh, Lawas, Tutoh, Limbang, Baram, Murum and Lanau rivers.

All these are in addition to the 2,400MW Bakun dam and will push the total generating capacity in the state to 7,000MW by 2020.



Ancient Burial Site Discovered In Batu Niah

KUCHING, Aug 1 (Bernama) -- A research team from the Centre For Archaeological Research Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and the Sarawak Museum Department has discovered an ancient burial site, believed to be from the Neolithic period, at Gua Kain Hitam in the Niah-Subis limestone hills in Batu Niah, Miri division.

Sarawak Museum Department deputy director Ipoi Datan said Friday the excavations at the site, funded by the National Heritage Department in 2007 and the USM Research University Grant last year, has so far uncovered more than eight human skeletons, dating back 2,000 to 3,000 years ago.

"The human skeletons as well as the associated artifacts such as pottery, ornaments and food remains like shells and animal bones are currently being analysed in order to extract more information about the burials and lifestyles of the ancient people who lived in the Niah-Subis region during that time," he said in a statement here.

He said the new finding would not only enrich knowledge on the early history of Sarawak and the nation but also expected to attract more local and foreign tourists to visit the site, which is located in the Niah National Park.

The Sarawak Museum Department is asking for public cooperation in not disturbing or encroaching into the site as the finds had no commercial value but only contained valuable research and academic significance, he said.


3000 year old human skeletons found

The news made the bulk of the media on 18-19 September 2008.

The skeletons were found in Niah Cave in Sarawak, and in a mangrove swamp in Perak.

See fuller report on SEArch


September 18, 2008 14:23 PM

USM Researchers Find Prehistoric Human Skeletons In Gua Hitam Hitam, Sarawak

PENANG, Sept 18 (Bernama) -- A research team from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) has discovered eight prehistoric human skeletons, believed to be more than 2,000 years old, in Gua Kain Hitam, Sarawak, which discovery proves the existence of human beings in the area during the Neolithic age.

Chief Researcher and lecturer at the USM's Centre for Archaeological Research Malaysia (PPAM) Prof Madya Stephen Chia believed there were relations between the findings at Gua Kain Hitam with the skeletons, believed to be more than 40,000 years old, which were found at Gua Niah, also in Sarawak, 53 years ago.

"The skeletons, with most of the parts, from head to toe complete, are found since 2007. They are found in a straight position and in a highly decomposed state with most of the bones broken," he told a press conference here today.

He said the team also found artifacts, like pottery, beads and food remains in the area after digging the site for about a metre deep.

Chia said six of the skeletons, that of five men and a woman, had been brought back to PPAM for scientific analysis.

"The skeletons have been conserved at the site of discovery to strengthen the bones before they are removed in June," he added.

He said the research by PPAM, with the collaboration of the Sarawak Museum Department, was conducted since 2007 and sponsored by the National Heritage Department of the Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry and USM research grants.

He said scientific research by PPAM was conducted with the assistance of an expert in palaeoanthropology from the Sappora Medical University in Japan, Dr Hirofumi Matsumara.

Sarawak Museum Department Director Sahib Said said the findings of the skeletal remains from the Neolithic age could provide more information on the prehistory of Sarawak as well as attract more people to visit the Niah National Park.

Meanwhile, PPAM director Prof Madya Mokhtar Saidin said the centre had also assisted Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) to remove three prehistoric human skeletons, believed to be between 1,000 and 3,000 year old, found in a mangrove swamp at Pulau Kalumpang, Perak in July.




Thursday September 18, 2008 MYT 7:18:58 PM

Archaeologists discover Neolithic-era skeletons


GEORGE TOWN: Archaeologists have stumbled upon eight human skeletal remains, believed to be from the Neolithic period between 2,000 and 3,000 years ago, at an ancient burial site at Gua Kain Hitam near the Niah Caves, Sarawak.

The research team, comprising members from Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Centre for Archaeological Research Malaysia headed by Prof Madya Dr Stephen Chia, and the Sarawak Museum Department headed by its deputy director Ipoi Datan, uncovered the remains.

They were buried together with artefacts such as pottery, beaded ornaments and food remains such as shells and animal bones.

The centre’s director Prof Madya Mokhtar Saidin told a press conference on Thursday that the discovery in the Niah-Subis limestone hill was considered to be of great significance as the excavated remains were almost complete.

“Of the eight, only six -- which were the remains of five men and a woman -- were brought back in June to the centre for analysis.

“The female is believed to be aged between 35 and 45 while the men were probably aged between 25 and 45, They measure between 156cm and 160cm,” he said.

Mokhtar said the discovery was a result of a two-year research work which began last year funded by the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry and the USM Research University grant.

The research was also in collaboration with palaeoanthropologist Prof Hirofumi Matsumura from the Sapporo Medical University in Hokkaido, Japan.

Dr Chia, who was present at the press conference, said the find was considered to be one of the major archaeological discoveries at the Niah Caves in Sarawak in the past 50 years since the then Sarawak Museum curator Tom Harrison and his team unearthed a modern human (homo sapiens) skull at the West Mouth of the Niah Great Cave, which was estimated to be 40,000 years old.

“The study on the remains of the eight would provide us the information on the type of their lifestyle, their period of settlement and their origins. Some of the remains were found with stains of red ochre which could symbolise some ritual during burial,” he said, adding that excavation works at the burial site were on going.

He also said the new finding would not only enrich knowledge of the early history of Malaysia and Southeast Asia but also attract more local and foreign tourists to the site.

Ipoi said the skeletal remains shared the same characteristics with the Austro Melanosoid people who used to roam around Sumatera and Papua.

The centre was also carrying out analysis on three skeletal remains which were found submerged in water at a mangrove swamp at Pulau Kalumpang, near Taiping, Perak, last month.

Mokhtar said the remains were excavated by the research team from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia which had sought assistance from USM for the analysis to be carried out at the centre’s laboratory.

He said the remains, believed to be males between the ages 25 and 35, were about 1,000 and 3,000 years old.

“Since the remains were submerged in salt water, the centre is currently carrying out the desalination process to remove salt from the remains for proper analysis,” he said.


NST Online » Local News 2008/09/19

Proof of Neolithic presence

By : Melissa Darlyne Chow

GEORGE TOWN: The prehistoric human skeletons found in Gua Kain Hitam, Sarawak, last year, and Pulau Kalumpang, Perak, last month, prove that human beings existed in the areas during the Neolithic age.

The skeletons were recovered by a research team from the Universiti Sains Malaysia's Centre for Archaeological Research Malaysia led by Associate Prof Stephen Chia and Sarawak Museum Department assistant director Ipoi Datan.

The remains found in Gua Kain Hitam were buried in a cave, while those in Pulau Kalumpang were found in a mangrove swamp.

The team brought back six remains from Gua Kain Hitam to the centre for scientific analysis. Five of them were males aged between 25 and 45, while the remaining one was a female aged between 35 and 45.

They were all between 156 and 160cm in height.

Chia said they had engaged Dr Hirofumi Matsumura, a paleoanthropologist from Sappora Medical University, to learn more about the human population and the prehistoric community's way of life.

"Certain skeletal remains were found to be reddish in colour. They were believed to have been sprayed with a substance called haematite, which is a symbol of blood and life."

Also present were centre director Associate Prof Mokhtar Saidin, Matsumura and Sarawak Musuem Department director Sanid Said.

Matsumura said the condition of the remains was not so good, but through preliminary research he gathered that they belonged to a native indigenous group.

"There was an abnormality on the femural bone on one of the remains. It is either genetic or a result of an injury. I have not seen such a thing before. I have to do more research."

Sanid said the discovery at Gua Kain Hitam was significant -- 53 years after the skeletal remains believed to be more than 40,000 years old were first found in the Niah caves in Sarawak.

"The discovery is crucial for our history and tourism."

Chia said the remains of three bodies found in the swamp in Pulau Kalumpang were brought back to the centre. Two were found submerged in sea water.

"The study was carried out jointly between the centre and Universiti Kebangsaan Malay-sia's archaeology expert, Datuk Prof Nik Hassan Shuhaimi Nik Abdul Rahman."

Chia said the bones were undergoing a process to remove salt, as the presence of salt would hasten the decay of the bones.

"The bones are washed and then soaked in mineral water until there is no more salt.

"After that, they will be dried before a proper analysis is carried out."



Friday September 19, 2008

Skeletons shed light on humans during Neolithic age

george town: The discovery of eight prehistoric human skeletons, believed to be over 2,000 years old, in Gua Kain Hitam in Sarawak proves the existence of human beings in the area during the Neolithic age.

Universiti Sains Malaysia chief researcher and lecturer at the Centre for Archaeological Research Malaysia Prof Stephen Chia believes there is a relationship between the Gua Kain Hitam and the Gua Niah skeletons, which are believed to be over 40,000 years old.

The Gua Niah skeletons were found 53 years ago.

He said the Gua Kain Hitam skeletons were found almost complete from head to toe but most of the bones were broken.

He said the research team also found artifacts, like pottery, beads and food remains after diggings went down to about one metre.

Six sets of the skeletons five men and a woman were brought back to the centre for analysis in June.

The centre is being assisted by Dr Hirofumi Matsumara, an expert in palaeoanthropoly from the Sappora Medical Unversity in Japan.

Sarawak Museum Department director Sahib Said said the findings of the skeletal remains from the Neolithic age could provide more information on the prehistory of Sarawak as well as attract more people to visit the Niah National Park.

Meanwhile, centre director Prof Mokhtar Saidin said the centre had also assisted Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia to remove three prehistoric human skeletons, believed to be between 1,000 and 3,000 years old, from a mangrove swamp at Pulau Kalumpang, Perak in July. ­”



Bukit Tengkorak, Sabah

Various items have been published in the media over the months.

April 18, 2008 20:32 PM

Bukit Tengkorak To Be Developed Into New Tourism Attraction

SEMPORNA, April 18 (Bernama) -- Bukit Tengkorak will be developed into the country's largest archeological site and promoted as a new tourism attraction.

Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Mohd Shafie Apdal said this was because Bukit Tengkorak housed many historical relics.

"They include those from primitive men and artefacts used by traders from states around the Andaman Sea region," he told reporters after visiting the Bukit Tengkorak archeological site here today.

He said the discovery of more than 6,000 porcelain ware nearly two decades ago had contributed to making Bukit Tengkorak an area that must be visited by archeological enthusiasts.

In addition, its strategic location between Semporna and Sipadan island makes Bukit Tengkorak a good area to develop into a new tourism destination.

"Motorists often stop over at Bukit Tengkorak as it lies between Semporna and Sipadan. We will bring local and foreign tourists to visit Southeast Asia's largest archeological site," said Shafie.

He said the ministry would seek the cooperation of the Tourism Ministry and tour operators to promote Bukit Tengkorak as a heritage tourist destination.



NST Online » Local News 2008/09/09

Earthenware goes abroad for tests

SEMPORNA: Samples of earthenware and other items unearthed in Bukit Tengkorak have been sent to the United States for tests, Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said yesterday.

If the tests find that the items had high historical value, a study would be carried out with the aim of excavating the area for more artifacts.

"These sites are not only to be conserved, but also to be promoted as tourist destinations," he said. -- Bernama


Earthenware Found In Bukit Tengkorak Sent For Scientific Tests

Bernama - Monday, September 8

Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said today that samples of earthenware and other items found in Bukit Tengkorak, near here, which are believed to be more than 500 years old, have been sent to the United States of America for scientific tests.

He said if the tests found that they were of high historical value, an indepth study would be carried out to excavate the remaining historical artifacts at the site.

"This site (at Bukit Tengkorak) is actually one of the many heritage sites nationwide which the ministry has identified to have high historical value.

"These (heritage) sites are not only to be conserved, but also to be promoted as tourist destinations for the international community," he told reporters here.

Shafie said he had asked the relevant agency under the ministry to carry out research work at the sites for conservation purpose for the benefit of future generation.



"We have to conserve areas with historial value. We do not want the future generation to only appreciate new things since old things also have high value," he added.

He said millions of people visited Egypt every year not because they wanted to see the Egyptians, but its historical artifacts which dated back to thousands of years ago like the Pyramids and the mummies.

Millions of people also went to Saudi Arabia every year, not only by Muslims to fulfil their religious obligations, but also to visit the many historical sites there, like the Prophet Muhammad's grave in Mecca, he added.



Man killed in Nam Tao Yan Temple (Nam Tou Ngam)

Septuagenarian monk meets bloody end in 101-year-old temple

Bernama 1st Sept 2008

A septuagenarian Buddhist monk met a bloody end when he was found stabbed to death at the Nam Tao Yan Temple in Gunung Cheroh today, where he had stayed for several decades.
A disciple who arrived at the 101-year-old temple to hand over food to Loo Puck Meng, 71, found the victim with deep wounds in the neck and head about 11am.
A police team assisted by a tracker dog unit failed to locate the murder weapon at the temple.
Ipoh police chief ACP Azisman Alias said the motive for the murder had yet to be estabilished, adding that the police were looking into several angles.
He said the body was sent to the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital for post-mortem.