Committee of Supply debate: Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth

Blueprint for heritage sector being drawn up

Children at the National Gallery Singapore. The comprehensive heritage blueprint will look at how to better protect the country's archaeological heritage through policy and legislative reviews. Other aspects of the plan include making museums and cul
Children at the National Gallery Singapore. The comprehensive heritage blueprint will look at how to better protect the country's archaeological heritage through policy and legislative reviews. Other aspects of the plan include making museums and cultural institutions more accessible.PHOTO: COURTESY OF NATIONAL GALLERY OF SINGAPORE

Plan will include preservation of tangible and intangible assets; first edition to be out next year

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

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

The plan will also look at how to better protect the country's archaeological heritage through policy and legislative reviews, said Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng.

The first edition of the plan will be published early next year, and will detail new strategies and initiatives for the next five years. It will be updated every five years.

The National Heritage Board (NHB) will engage heritage stakeholders and community partners.

It will also invite the public to share their views later this year, said Mr Baey yesterday during the debate on his ministry's budget.

Other aspects of the plan include making museums and cultural institutions more accessible.

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 blueprint.

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

Such a blueprint is long overdue, said the heritage community, which hopes it will lead to concrete policies and laws to protect heritage.

On their wish list: standardised, structured and independent heritage impact assessments, coordination across ministries, and systematic public engagements.

Singapore Heritage Society president Chua Ai Lin said: "There needs to be a greater whole-of-government approach to heritage. In order to be meaningful and effective, the heritage plan has to include other agencies whose work also play a crucial role in deciding the fate of the country's heritage assets."

Dr Terence Chong, head of NalanDa-Sriwijaya Centre at the ISEAS- Yusof Ishak Institute, said the plan is a positive step towards formulating long-term heritage strategies.

His suggestions include making it compulsory for landowners or developers to notify NHB of proposals to redevelop sites of significant size, to allow for mandatory archaeological investigations.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu also updated the House about the Founders' Memorial, which will honour the nation's founding fathers.

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

The wider public will get to weigh in from next week when a showcase is rolled out at Gardens by the Bay.

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."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'Blueprint for heritage sector being drawn up'. Print Edition | Subscribe