Siniawan, Malaysia wooden shophouses endure but renovation could get boost from historic tourism

From New Straits Times writer Dennis Wong: "The Siniawan old town was set up by the Chinese from Bau in 1821.  It went through the Japanese occupation, the Malaysia-Indonesia Confrontation and the communist insurgency. "Despite surviving though the bleakest of times, the town appears not to be as resilient as thought.  The once proud wooden shophouses standing along the main road seem to have lost their battle with time.  Most are derelict and some have been declared as unsafe for occupation.  A shame, as the mid-19th century wooden architecture of the shophouses is unique and has attracted shutterbugs from near and far.

"'The town's facade has changed not one bit. All the shophouses look the same as when I was a child. The shop owners have made only minor changes to the buildings like changing bits of the wooden walls to cement,' said 80-year-old cafe owner Bong Nam Fah.

"Due to the town's rich historical legacy, the state Tourism and Heritage Ministry wants to turn Siniawan into a heritage town.  Assistant minister Datuk Talip Zulpilip said the unique town design and its history should be preserved for the new generation.  If Siniawan is gazetted as a heritage town, it would definitely become a major tourist attraction as it is one of the only few places in Sarawak which has maintained its old building structure and architecture up until today."  Full article here.