Budget debate: Chingay parade, Thaipusam festival among possible nominations for Unesco's heritage list

The annual Chingay parade is among 10 elements on the nomination shortlist. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - The annual Chingay parade and Thaipusam festival are among 10 elements on Singapore's shortlist for nomination to Unesco's intangible cultural heritage (ICH) list.

The National Heritage Board (NHB) will consult the public in the coming months before deciding on the country's second nomination for inscription to Unesco's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, said Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Low Yen Ling on Thursday (March 10).

In a statement, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) said the other eight elements are: birthing traditions, Malay art form dikir barat, getai, the making and sharing of kueh, orchid cultivation, Peranakan beadwork and embroidery, traditional medical practices and yusheng and its associated food heritage and social practices for celebrating Chinese New Year.

Ms Low said about 170 participants attended focus group discussions held by NHB between June last year and January, including ICH practitioners, heritage business owners and academics.

"Through these conversations, we heard a clear preference for our second nomination to be multicultural in nature, and relatable to Singaporeans," she told the House.

Singapore's first inscription to Unesco's ICH list - hawker culture - was announced in December 2020.

Moving forward, the NHB will consult the public on its shortlist in the middle of this year, and take suggestions on other elements for nomination.

Besides working on Singapore's next Unesco ICH nomination, NHB will launch a travelling exhibition on the upcoming Founders' Memorial next month.

Titled Share Your Story, Shape Our Memorial, it will feature a public call for artefacts and stories related to encounters with Singapore's founding leaders, Ms Low said.

The public will be able to share their stories via a website, and these can also be related to independent Singapore's national policies or milestones, urban transformation and economic progress.

MCCY added that select stories and objects submitted will be featured in the memorial's galleries when it opens in 2027.

At the exhibition, the public can also look forward to seeing new artist impressions that showcase the memorial's spaces, such as the visitor lobby, viewing gallery, arrival plaza and amphitheatre, said the ministry.

In his speech, Culture, Community and Youth Minister Edwin Tong said the NHB is working towards gazetting the Padang a national monument on National Day this year.

The move recognises the historic significance of the Padang, which witnessed the inaugural National Day Parade in 1966, said MCCY.

Mr Tong said: "The site is an instantly recognisable, enduring testament to our history as a people."

A notice of intention will be served to the Padang's occupiers - the Singapore Recreation Club and the Singapore Cricket Club - this July. Thereafter, the Padang will be granted legal protections similar to that of gazetted monuments.

Ms Low said the NHB will also call for public feedback for its second Our SG Heritage Plan later this year. The plan will guide developments in the heritage sector for five years from 2023.

The plan will focus on three areas: developing the heritage sector's digital capabilities, sharing Singapore's heritage abroad and developing local talent by tapping global expertise, as well as working with local communities to celebrate the nation's heritage.

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