Straits Times: Singapore 'looking to ratify Unesco cultural heritage convention'

Zhaki Abdullah

To protect its unique cultural heritage, Singapore is looking into ratifying a 2003 convention by Unesco, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu on Wednesday.

The convention aims to safeguard aspects of such intangible heritage as the performing arts, cultural rituals and traditional crafts.

In ratifying it, Singapore will have to hold to the requirements of the convention to preserve its own cultural heritage, and in turn will receive support from the UN and other countries in these efforts.

Singapore is committed to making constructive contributions to help advance Unesco's agenda, said Ms Fu, who is also chairman of the Singapore National Commission for Unesco, at the 39th session of the agency's general conference at its headquarters in Paris.

She pointed to milestones such as the recognition of the Singapore Botanic Gardens as a Unesco World Heritage site in 2015 and the National Parks Board receiving the Unesco Sultan Qaboos Prize last month for its contributions to environmental preservation.

"During conversations with many Singaporeans, I am heartened by the strong collective desire for our intangible cultural heritage to be safeguarded for future generations, especially during such times of rapid socio-economic changes and global uncertainty," said Ms Fu.

She said the Republic was drawing up a comprehensive blueprint for Singapore's heritage sector which would include a repository for its intangible cultural heritage in partnership with local communities, academics and experts.

Heritage blogger Jerome Lim said ratifying the Unesco, or the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, convention would show the commitment of the authorities to the preservation of what is left of Singapore's intangible cultural heritage.

"Beyond that affirmation, there is a need to step up our efforts to promote our own rich and diverse cultural practices," he said, pointing to the loss of distinct practices of various Chinese dialect groups.