Parliament: National blueprint for heritage in the works, NHB to hold public consultations

Student volunteers working on a World War II battle site dig at No. 8, Adam Park.
Student volunteers working on a World War II battle site dig at No. 8, Adam Park. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A comprehensive national blueprint for the heritage sector is being developed to map out the national vision for the museum and heritage landscape.

The blueprint will examine how tangible and intangible heritage can be systematically documented and preserved.

Another aspect of the plan will look at policy and legislative reviews to better protect the country's archaeological heritage, said Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng on Thursday (March 9) during the debate on his ministry's budget.

One area that is being studied is the legal ownership status of archaeological materials unearthed on private land. Currently, the authorities do not own such items, as only archaeological finds unearthed on state land belong to the state.

The first edition of the heritage plan will be published in early 2018 and it will detail new strategies and initiatives for the next five years.

This plan will be updated every five years, with the long-term aim of setting out goals for 2030.

The National Heritage Board (NHB) will hold engagement sessions with heritage stakeholders and partners, including academics, experts, industry practitioners, community and heritage groups, youths, volunteers and educators.

The public will also be invited to provide their views on the plan later this year at roadshows, online platforms and other channels, said Mr Baey.

Other aspects of the plan include increasing accessibility at museums and cultural institutions.

The ongoing nationwide surveys on the country's tangible and intangible heritage, launched by NHB over the past two years, will be worked into the heritage blueprint.

The plan also involves NHB partnering more communities and exploring ways to empower them to co-curate heritage content, and provide resources to support more ground-up projects.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said her ministry is working with the Ministry of Education to arrange more student visits to arts and heritage institutions.

She also updated the House about the Founders' Memorial, which will honour the nation's founding fathers.

The authorities have actively sought feedback from Singaporeans to develop a memorial that commemorates the "values and ideals" upon which the nation was built, she said.

She noted that a majority of Singaporeans engaged so far have picked Bay East Gardens as the preferred site of the memorial as opposed to Fort Canning Park.

The wider public will get to weigh in and help shape the eventual form of the memorial next week when a showcase is rolled out at Gardens by the Bay, she said.

When it is ready, the Founders' Memorial will tell the extraordinary story of the Singapore spirit, she said. "The story doesn't end there. We will write the next chapters together."