- 2009/03/29 Passion for heritage

We have always thought of Malacca as just a historical city. It is often associated with dates and names we only read about in history textbooks, which most teenagers would deem boring.

Furthermore, the city is also known as a tourist destination. How interesting could it be?

Well, during our walkabout session with heritage enthusiasts Colin Goh and Josephine Chua, we discovered there was more to Malacca than we ever imagined.

If we were expecting boring, old historians to take us on a guided tour, we would be proven wrong.

These two people are passionate about Malacca's heritage and were kind enough to sacrifice their Sunday morning to show us around.

Josephine Chua, 52, is a housewife who has grown up in Malacca, She has poured out her heart and soul into what she is passionate about Ė the conservation of Malaccan history.

For many years she has been at the forefront of preserving the history of Malacca and getting involved in various conservation projects.

To top it all off, she is also on the committee of the Malacca Historical Resource Society, and a trustee of the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, which was built by her grandfather.

She is also a woman who is literally bursting with energy. Throughout our journey, we had to struggle to keep up with her as she left us trailing behind.

Taking us on a brisk walk along the winding alleyways in the area surrounding Jonker Streer, never once did she show signs of fatigue.

It was obvious that it was her love for the history and heritage of the city that gave her the motivation to keep going. Her passion was notice-able in the animated way she talked and explained things to us.

"Having lived in Malacca all my life, the city is very dear to me. Whenever I see modernisation taking over, I feel like part of my childhood has been taken away. As such I put all my efforts into conserving what is dear to me," she said.

Malaccaís heritage is also very important to Colin Goh, 63. After retiring from his job as a Government servant, Goh joined Badan Warisan Malaysia and is now the manager of No. 8 Heeren Street.

His passion to preserve Malacca's heritage was evident during our walkabout with him. There was a glow on his face each time he told wonderful stories of the days when Malacca was in the hands of the British, Dutch and Portuguese.

After his retirement, Colin decided not to just while away time, and instead chose a job that would enlighten people and create awareness about the importance of preserving these historical places and what they serve to remind us of.

Ever the storyteller, Colin kept us hanging on to his every word with his stories of the old Malacca as he brought us along Jonker and Heeren streets.

He frequently paused to remind us of how important that heritage is conserved.

"If something is not there (anymore), what do we have to show the next generation?" he would ask.

It is for this very reason that Colin and Josephine are so dedicated to preserving these heritage sites. These buildings and monuments have been around for centuries and many are still standing in good condition.

Hopefully, with the efforts of people like them, these sites would exist for a long time more.

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