Fate of Malacca's historical Nam Hoe Villa hangs by a thread

Malacca , 30 Dec 2016

IT is a race against time to save the historical Nam Hoe Villa in Klebang. A temporary stop-work order was issued by the Malacca Historical City Council (MBMB) on Wednesday to halt the demolition of the building, while the Malacca Museum Corporation (Perzim) has admitted that its hands are tied when it comes to determining the structure’s fate.

Museum personnel yesterday visited the site, and were seen taking photographs and measurements of the building. Perzim general manager Datuk Khamis Abas said the move was only for the museum’s records.

“On our part, this is all we can do. What happens to the building is up to the owners.

“Only MBMB can order for the demolition work to be stopped, and I believe they have met the owners.” Nam Hoe Villa, according to an embossment on the building’s entrance, was opened in 1927 by Loh Kim Swi. It was then taken over by another Peranakan community leader, Tay Boon Seng, in the 1950s.

Under Tay’s ownership, the villa became a retreat for first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj when he visited Malacca, where pre-independence meetings were held between him and Chinese community leaders, including MCA founder Tun Tan Cheng Lock. The villa also hosted foreign dignitaries and federal ministers who visited Malacca post-independence, before it was turned into a popular Peranakan restaurant in the 1970s. However, it has been abandoned since the 1990s.

The owners’ niece, Fiona Tan, 42, said a Perzim official had called to ask about the building’s background. “I requested time to look up the information. The demolition work is on hold because they want to take measurements.” Tan said whether the building would be sold was up to her uncles. “They have no plans yet. And, I don’t know what my cousin’s plan is.” Klebang assemblyman Lim Ban Hong said the demolition work had not received MBMB’s approval, thus, the stop-work order. “I checked with MBMB and found out that the owners had not submitted requests nor gained approvals for the building’s demolition.

“So, I asked them to meet MBMB to sort out the matter. “In the meantime, we are trying to meet the land title owners, who, I am told, are abroad.” Malacca Peranakan Chinese Association president Datuk Phua Jin Hock urged the state government to step in and save the building.

“The state government should take over the property, carry out refurbishment work and turn it into a tourist attraction. “There is so much history behind the building, particularly on the independence movement and Peranakan heritage.

“It will take some work to restore the building, but this can be done if there is serious effort.” A visit to the site yesterday showed that the building’s main structure is intact, but much of its interior is dilapidated.

Even though the prized classic tiles that adorned the interior have been looted, some of the building’s walls still project images of grandeur reminiscent of Nam Hoe Villa back in the day.

Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/12/200466/fate-malaccas-historical-nam-hoe-villa-hangs-thread