TUMPAT, KELANTAN: A shroud of mystery surrounds an underground structure found here, with speculation of precious artefacts or metals being there, especially after the area was declared off-limits by men claiming that it was a state government project.
People curious about the find have not been allowed into the 2.2ha site in Palekbang beside Sungai Kelantan that has been under a 24-hour surveillance by at least 10 men with walkie talkies.
One of “guards” interviewed by The Star said the area was closed to ensure public safety while another person claimed he was there on behalf of the Kelantan Government.
He claimed he had been given the authority to bar unauthorised people from entering the area.
Asked why the area was not secured by security forces like the police or armed forces, the “guard” angrily replied that he was carrying out his job.
“No one can question why we are here because this is a government project and we are under instructions to stop people from going into the area,” said the elderly man, who wore a blue T-shirt with a yellow Kelantan Government coat-of-arms sticker.
People were also not allowed to take photographs of the site.
Authorised personnel have to leave their identification cards at a makeshit tent to get temporary tags for entry into the site.
A visitor from Kuala Lumpur, Baharom Ahmad, 32, said he could not understand why police were not tasked with securing the area.
“The people manning the sentry posts do not look like people in authority and I wonder under what power they have to stop people from entering the area,” said Baharom, who was on his way to Pengkalan Kubor with his family.
On Nov 30, a sand mining company discovered a tunnel-like structure buried underneath a railway bridge while clearing the area.
The local Fire and Rescue Department were ordered by the state secretary office to pump out water from the tunnel.
Seven wells and ventilation airwells near the railway bridge were also discovered and are said to be part of the tunnel.
Locals here believed the structure was part of an ancient city buried underground that is at least the size of three football fields.
Some think the tunnel is at least 100km long and was built by either the Japanese or British.
Siti Noor Aishah Deraman, 57, said “coffee shop talk” was that there was buried treasure belonging to the Japanese army, besides an ancient Siamese Kingdom.
“As far as I know, the tunnel and wells were used to fill water into steam locomotives,” she added.
Deputy Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob was reported by Bernama as saying that the state government was still studying the matter and would inform the people after the study had been completed and urged the public not to speculate.
Military assistance had been requested because of the possibility of weapons as it was previously a Japanese military area, he said.
Credit: SYED AZHAR and CA Zulkifle