National monument plaque unveiled at Istana Kampong Gelam

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim (in orange batik), Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, unveiling the national monument plaque at the Istana Kampong Gelam on Friday, Aug 7, 2015.
Dr Yaacob Ibrahim (in orange batik), Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, unveiling the national monument plaque at the Istana Kampong Gelam on Friday, Aug 7, 2015. ST PHOTO: YEO SAM JO

SINGAPORE - The national monument plaque was unveiled at the Istana Kampong Gelam in Sultan Gate on Friday.

Once the seat of the Johore sultanate, the 172-year-old landmark, a reminder of Singapore's historic links to the Malay world, was recently gazetted as the country's 70th national monument. The former royal residence also houses the Malay Heritage Centre, which opened in 2005.

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim, who unveiled the plaque during the centre's annual Hari Raya open house on Friday, said it is "especially meaningful" that the gazetting of the monument coincides with the nation's 50th birthday.

"What is more significant is that it is the eighth national monument associated with the Malay/Muslim community in Singapore, thus reaffirming the contributions of our pioneers and our community to the multi-cultural Singapore landscape," said Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs.

The open house on Friday, which also commemorated Racial Harmony Day, featured not only Malay games and dances, but also non-Malay activities such as henna painting and opera mask painting.

Said Dr Yaacob: "Having them all under one roof speaks of our nation's dynamic and rich cultural tapestry. This is also consistent with the Malay community's values and tradition of being inclusive by opening its doors to everyone and anyone, and regardless of race and faith, during Hari Raya."

The symmetrically planned Istana Kampong Gelam references both classical European architecture and traditional Malay styles. Its large pitched roof, for example, resembles the Malay Limas, or pyramidal, house, while the graceful entrance porch arches are elements of classical European design.

Ms Jean Wee, director of the National Heritage Board's preservation of sites and monuments division, said: "Collectively, the Istana Kampong Gelam and out other 69 national monuments reflect the architectural and cultural diversity of our society."