Build a sense of ownership towards local heritage say experts at heritage symposium

SINGAPORE - The English have their pre-historic Stonehenge monument.

Built between 3000 BC to 2000 BC, and entrusted to its National Trust in the late 1920s, it has fostered a sense of identity among the English community.

Speaking at the first World Heritage Day Symposium at Singapore's National Museum on Saturday morning, the Urban Redevelopment Authority's conservation management director Kelvin Ang, said writers, poets, and artists have had an important role in changing the image of Stonehenge from "just a pile of rocks", into a national treasure.

Mr Ang said a similar grounds-up effort here could help improve the appreciation of heritage in the collective imagination of Singaporeans.

Apart from the Government's conservation and preservation efforts, he encouraged the community, including writers, poets and filmmakers to step forward and develop a sense of ownership with the built and intangible heritage in their midst.

"There's no such thing as intrinsic heritage value. It's really what we put into it... We must consider how we can constantly articulate heritage," he said.

Mr Ang was among eight heritage experts and advocates who spoke at the five-hour long symposium which is part of the ongoing Singapore HeritageFest.

The symposium's other speakers included law professor Kevin Tan, president of the International Council on Monuments and Sites Singapore, and Dr Yeo Kang Shua of the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

They spoke on topics ranging from the conservation of Chinese temples, Singapore's 30 years of archaeological digs, to state and society engagements on heritage.

Junior college teacher Chew Hui Jie, 27, who attended the symposium, said she did so to broaden her knowledge on the field, so that she could share more with her students. "There's a lot more to be done about generating public awareness on heritage... Such symposiums do help this cause," she said.