Regeneration and sustainability of urban cemeteries in the context of Malay burial practices in the Kuala Lumpur metropolitan area

Mohamed Afla, M 2014, Regeneration and sustainability of urban cemeteries in the context of Malay burial practices in the Kuala Lumpur metropolitan area, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Architecture and Design, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Regeneration and sustainability of urban cemeteries in the context of Malay burial practices in the Kuala Lumpur metropolitan area
Author(s) Mohamed Afla, M
Year 2014
Abstract Sustainable development has been widely discussed and debated in the academic world for more than two decades. However, most countries in the Southeast Asia are still in the process of clarifying what sustainability means within the context of urbanisation as well as the sociocultural realm (Roberts and Kanaley, 2006). Rap- id urbanisation and migration of people from rural areas into cities have resulted in many challenges in the management of this urban environment, such as lack of public and green space. This research is particularly addressing the impacts derived from current burial practices in cities. The study focuses on the subject of sustainable burial practices as being performed by people and the management at public cemeteries within the metropolitan area of Kuala Lumpur. The research examines specifically the conventional way of burial practice by the majority of the Muslim population. Unlike other major religions in Southeast Asia, which are more open and flexible in disposing corpses, Islam requires full body burial as mandatory in all cases.

In response to the escalating issues of lack of space and land shortage for the purpose of burial in the Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan Area, local authorities are still trying to find the right direction in formulating solutions. This research has recognised factors that led to these problems as well as identifying possible alternatives. In doing so, the research has examined the sustainability aspect of burial that exists in the landscape of urban cemeteries.

This research argues that Muslim funerary culture must be respected and indeed protected, especially given the increasing pressures of urbanisation in Kuala Lumpur. This research is attempting to contribute to the possibilities of regenerating inactive public cemeteries, as well as for their function to be more than just a place to store the dead. The concept of a cemetery park around Kuala Lumpur may promise to counter the problems with abandoned cemeteries. Research has found that local authorities are keen to promote the concept of a cemetery park as an effort to create a livable city. This may result in shifting public perceptions. For example, landscape planning may promote the notion that cemeteries also possess ‘recreational’ value.

In addition, this study provides alternatives in dealing with the spatial issue facing Muslim burial by adopt- ing technical solutions at the subterranean level, as well as the implementation of new burial policies that emphasise the long-term usage of the grave plots.

It is expected that this PhD research will become a valuable resource for the Kuala Lumpur municipal govern- ment as well as stakeholders in urban planning and cemetery design.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Architecture and Design
Keyword(s) spatial issues
burial transformation
urban cemeteries
metropolitan areas
Muslim burial practices
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