Kampong Glam art tells diverse stories of Singapore Malay community

The Hikayat Masa Silam: Wak Cantuk mural, by artist Zul Othman, seeks to retell the tragic love story that not many know took place in Kampong Glam.
The Hikayat Masa Silam: Wak Cantuk mural, by artist Zul Othman, seeks to retell the tragic love story that not many know took place in Kampong Glam.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

We thank Ms Hidayah Amin for her feedback (Disturbed by mural on historic building in Kampong Glam, May 8).

As part of this year's Singapore Heritage Festival, the Malay Heritage Centre (MHC) presented three temporary art installations around Kampong Glam, alongside other performances and cultural activities.

These offerings were created with the aim of showcasing the precinct's diverse history and lesser-known stories, which the festival aims to do with each edition.

Each of the local artists that the MHC worked with chose to focus on different aspects of Kampong Glam's history.

The Hikayat Masa Silam: Wak Cantuk (Obscure Tales From The Past: Wak Cantuk) mural, by artist Zul Othman, seeks to retell the tragic love story of Wak Cantuk that not many know took place in Kampong Glam, and to remind us that our history is filled with both joyous and tragic moments.

The other two installations also showcase lesser known tales of Kampong Glam. Bejeweled. An Homage To Kampong Intan is another mural that reminds us that part of Baghdad Street was once where diamonds and precious stones were traded.

Statecraft (After Theatre Royal) featured the once famous Theatre Royal, which was home to the legendary Bangsawan troupe, The Star Opera Company.

For all our installations, we work with the artists to select sites which inspire them, are accessible to members of the public and are willing to serve as "hosts" for these installations.

We also abide by an established consultation process to seek the support of local community representatives in Kampong Glam.

We note Ms Hidayah's feedback and will continue to work closely with Kampong Glam stakeholders for future art installations where relevant.

The MHC, as a community heritage institution, remains committed to telling the diverse stories of the Singapore-Malay communities and the historic Kampong Glam precinct in which it sits.

Through our special exhibitions and programmes, we also hope to inject cultural vibrancy into the precinct, and we welcome new and artistic ways of promoting heritage and culture.

Trudy Loh

Director, Heritage Institutions

National Heritage Board

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2019, with the headline 'Kg Glam art tells diverse stories of S'pore Malay community'. Print Edition | Subscribe