Former students of Kuala Lumpur’s 122-year-old convent school are rejoicing at the government’s surprise decision to extend the school’s land lease for another 60 years. But the battle isn’t over yet.
Convent Bukit Nanas and its alumni are now aiming for the school to attain a National Heritage status so that it can be permanently protected from redevelopment while also saving everyone the debate about the fate of the school every few decades.
“Congratulations and thank you to the board of directors and CBN alumni who have fought for this. Thank you to the government for extending the land lease. Let’s hope the school will become a national heritage site in the future,” convent school alum and veteran singer Adibah Noor wrote online yesterday.
Another alum, local author Hanna Alkaf, said: “EXTENSION GRANTED! Now let’s hope the government will work with the school towards a solution that doesn’t have to be debated like this every few decades.”
The government’s decision to extend the lease of the school, which is run by The Lady Superior of the Society of Saint Maur, came amid online pressure to do so. The school was even willing to take the matter to court to challenge the government for declining to extend the lease previously. The lease was originally due to expire on Sep. 6.
“After analyzing the important contributions of SMK Convent Bukit Nanas to the country’s education system since it was first established in 1899, the government has agreed to extend the land lease of SMK Convent Bukit Nanas for an additional 60 years, for educational purposes only,” said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday.
“With this decision, we hope that SMK Convent Bukit Nanas will continue to produce quality individuals for the country,” it added. The school was built during British colonial rule.
The school’s lawyer, Damien Chan from the Kevin & Co law firm, told Coconuts today his client will likely “withdraw the court challenge in view of the latest statement by the Prime Minister’s Office.”
A court hearing was earlier scheduled for May 4.
The school would have to apply to the National Heritage Council of Malaysia to achieve its heritage status, which was granted to the neighboring St. John’s Institution in 2010.
“It’s decent for the school but frankly, there needs to be a strong push for CBN to be made a national heritage site,” former student Abbernaa Dhevi chimed in on Twitter.
“We still need to continue to obtain heritage status for CBN,” Michelle Leong said.
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This article, After land lease victory, Convent Bukit Nanas alumni eye national heritage status, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.