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RAUB: The demolition of the colonial-style Maybank Lodge in Fraser's Hill here last month has raised questions if other bungalows on the hill station will suffer the same fate. The four-bedroom Tudor-style bungalow, located in a secluded corner at the end of the main road from Allan's Water, has been reduced to a pile of rubble to make way for the construction of the 15-storey Fraser's Hill Resort and Spa. There are concerns that the incident will set a precedent for other building owners to sell their bungalows. Compounding the worry is the thought that the mansions will go the way of the Maybank Lodge as some buildings there have been long abandoned and are in a dilapidated state.

A former bungalow caretaker, who declined to be named, said "English homes", which were once landmarks of the hill station, seemed to have lost their charm and had been left unattended for years. "Bungalows here have timber structures, concrete walls and limestone. Each has a Tudor-style look, a fireplace, a chimney and vernacular architecture. They have distinctive designs with their own names, mostly named after districts in Pahang. "Everything was calm until the Maybank bungalow was demolished recently to make way for the resort. So there is no guarantee about the fate of other bungalows here. "Even some privately-owned premises have been left unattended." He said there were four or five bungalows that had been abandoned.

"The bungalows have breathtaking views. They used to be highly-sought after during the holidays, but they are no longer maintained. "I am sure if the owners receive good offers, they might consider selling them. "In the past, most of the bungalow caretakers were Hainanese, but they left after deaths of family members. Some were too old and they moved to stay at their children's homes and elsewhere. "People used to live here when they had jobs, and once they retired, most of them would move elsewhere and buy houses in nearby towns." He said the era of bungalow caretakers was coming to an end in the Little England of Malaysia, as the bungalows' days were numbered. "When Maybank Lodge was demolished, people asked why none of the buildings here was gazetted as a heritage site. Gazetting them could have saved them. "Only now are people beginning to make noise. So let's not lose more colonial buildings."

Checks by the New Sunday Times showed that Puncak Inn Fraser's Hill owned five bungalows: The Cicely (Kuantan), Hollebeke (Cini), Cottage (Bentong), Abu Suradi and Puncak Lodge. The state government had leased five other bungalows in Pekan, Raub, Jelai, Brinchang and Jerantut to a private company, while the Temerloh bungalow will soon be turned into a hospital. A source from the Raub District Office said records showed no building in Fraser's Hill was gazetted as a heritage site. "Only the old police station in Raub town has been included in the national heritage list and there are no buildings in Fraser's Hill in the list. "Three buildings in Fraser's Hill — the post office, police station and district council building near the clock tower — have had their names submitted to the National Heritage Department to get them gazetted."

Persatuan Alam dan Warisan Bukit Fraser (PAWBF) chairman Nik Jassmin Hew said abandoned bungalows made the hill station looked like a ghost town. "The buildings are starting to turn into an eyesore. Empty bungalows deprive people of jobs and people cannot experience what it is like to stay in colonial bungalows. "Even the historical Gap rest house at the foothill has been left abandoned. Fraser's Hill has the right tourism products, but more needs to be done to maintain them." PAWBF raised the alarm last week after Maybank Lodge and an abandoned Jelai Resort were demolished to make way for the resort and spa by a private developer. It is learnt that the developer acquired another bungalow belonging to an oil and gas company. Source : NST

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