The statement definitely does not stand. Everyone knows that the past is
valuable. It is history for us. Preserving the past includes past records,
buildings, customs, artifacts, food and so
on. Let me illustrate by using an example. The first hand phones or computers
were big, bulky and unwieldy compared to the light, portable ones nowadays. We
must keep examples of these inventions to remind us of the efforts of the
pioneers and to compare how far we have advanced.
Similarly, a walk in the old
part of any city will remind us of the old way of life there. A look at ancient
forts, castles or the ruins of the Acropolis, Colosseum or the Great Wall of
China will remind a nation of its past civilization. In some capital cities,
many existing parts of the city were planned years ago. For example, in my
country, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, since its beginning still fulfilling its role
as a central business hub hitherto. To date,
The Dataran Merdeka, which was the scene of its declaration of independence, is
still used as a focus of loyalty.
A writer was in Beijing, China, recently. He was sad to see many ancient
parts of the city being torn down to make way for modern buildings. Ironically,
foreigners played a part in getting the authorities to preserve the old
courtyard houses of Beijing. A tour through these and the protected historic
sites of Beijing like the Forbidden City will remind tourists of the great
Chinese civilizations of the past. It is indeed ironic that sometimes foreigners
are the ones who are more appreciative of a country's past than many local
The author is not saying that every aspect of the past must be preserved.
Some ancient parts of a city must go if they are not that valuable historically
and are instead standing in the way of much needed development. But preservation
is a must if a country is to keep its heritage and identity. Someone has said,
"To know who you are, you must know where you come from." Thus, a glimpse of
ancient temples or the preserved quarters of poor immigrants in the past will
remind a people of their roots. Maintaining historic sites and museums is not
only for tourists. It is not that the Pyramids of Egypt or the Tower of London
are not profit-making ventures as tourism today is a major money earner for many
countries. It is because all of us will stand to lose if the world's past,
whether in the form of past buildings, cultures or artifacts man used for daily
living in the past, is wiped out.
I read an article in Malaysia's newspapers recently of a man who kept things
of the country's past, like household appliances or bus tickets. There is also a
drive by some Malaysians to preserve some fast disappearing ethnic games or
food. They feel that if these were to be gone, it would be the loss future
generations. A tourist would want to see the old and modern aspects of the areas
visited. Teenagers, however, like myself usually
patronize clean, bright supermarkets rather than old, smelly wet
markets. However, I would like to see some of these old markets preserved for
the identification of future generations. If I possess the latest mobile phone,
it does not mean that I do not appreciate the first and early hand phones.
Our lives have improved because we are constantly striving for progress.
However, preserving things of the past would not stand in the way of inventions
for the future. It is by building on the knowledge and experience of inventions
like the telephone and the car that we have built the modern ones to raise our
life quality and standard of living. We must look into the future, but the past
must be preserved. We will progress more by learning from lessons from the past.