Forum: Community contributions enrich Singapore's history

The Malay Heritage Centre, housed in the historic Istana Kampong Glam.
The Malay Heritage Centre, housed in the historic Istana Kampong Glam.PHOTO: ST FILE

We thank Mr Edwin Pang for his feedback (Restore newly discovered istanas in Singapore, Jan 17).

Such research is important to us as it enriches our understanding of Singapore's history at different levels. The work of heritage researcher Sarafian Salleh is also a good example of how Singaporeans can be involved in, and contribute to, our heritage. Through the documentation and findings of Mr Sarafian's research project on the locations of 20 former istanas in Singapore, we are now presented with fresh perspectives that add layers to our Singapore story.

The Malay Heritage Centre, housed in the historic Istana Kampong Glam, recognises the Istana's extensive heritage - from its early history as the site of royalty to its later role as a gathering space for the community - in various ways.

The building's exterior has been preserved as a national monument to showcase the architecture's unique blend of Malay and European motifs. The centre's permanent galleries within the building have also kept to the Istana's original layout. Each space's original function, such as the anjung (reception area) and balairung (audience hall/ living room), are described in the galleries.

Lastly, artefacts in the galleries, such as photographs, illustrate the multiple roles played by the Istana - not only as the domain of royalty, but of society as well.

We are in touch with Mr Sarafian to find out more about his research on the other istanas, and to tap his knowledge. The National Heritage Board will continue to partner individuals such as Mr Sarafian and different communities to promote our heritage, as well as co-create content for our exhibitions, festivals and programmes.

Yeo Kirk Siang


Heritage Research and Assessment

National Heritage Board

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2020, with the headline 'Community contributions enrich Singapore's history'. Subscribe