Singapore ratifies UNESCO convention in bid to preserve intangible cultural heritage

Singapore ratifies UNESCO convention in bid to preserve intangible cultural heritage

On another heritage front, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu announced that her ministry has set aside S$66 million for the implementation of the first five-year instalment of Our SG Heritage Plan.

Intangible Cultural Heritage (kueh tutu People's Park 2)
Tan Cheong Chuan selling kueh tutu at People's Park in the 1970s. (Photo: Tan Bee Hua)

SINGAPORE: Singapore has ratified the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) Grace Fu announced on Thursday (Mar 8).

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

Singapore ratified the convention on Feb 22, Ms Fu revealed during her ministry’s Committee of Supply debate.

“In the coming months, we will continue our conversations with the community to uncover the intangibles that resonate with Singaporeans,” she said. 
 
Singapore will have to adhere to requirements of the convention to preserve its own cultural heritage. In turn, the Republic will receive support from the United Nations and other countries in its efforts.

This will pave the way for Singapore to list an element of Singapore's intangible cultural heritage on the UNESCO list.
 
On another heritage front, Ms Fu announced that her ministry has set aside S$66 million for the implementation of the first five-year instalment of Our SG Heritage Plan, Singapore’s first long-term comprehensive national masterplan to safeguard and promote its shared heritage for future generations. 
 
Over the past two years, MCCY had reached out to 34,000 Singaporeans for their views on Singapore’s heritage plans, Ms Fu said. The national plan will surround four themes: Our Places, Our Cultures, Our Treasures and Our Communities.
 
In addition, Ms Fu said the Government will be making changes to the relevant legislation within the next two years to better support the preservation of both tangible and intangible heritage, and to safeguard Singapore’s archaeological history more effectively. MCCY will share more details at the Singapore Heritage Festival next month, she added.  

CONVERSATIONS TO INVOLVE YOUTH IN POLICY ISSUES

Ms Fu also spoke about the importance of engaging youth on key policy issues. In order to do this, MCCY will kickstart “Youth Conversations” in April to bring youths together, she said.
 
“Through conversation and dialogue, we hope to that our youths will be informed on important issues, listen to one another’s views, negotiate differences and find new solutions together and with the Government,” she said. 
 
She drew a distinction between Youth Conversations and previous consultations. “We will be sharing more policy thoughts and considerations with our youths. We will listen more to understand our youth’s views, concerns and aspirations. We will provide more support for our youths in generating and implementing their ideas,” she said. 

Youth conversations MCCY
Youths sharing candidly what hope and homes mean to them. (Photo: MCCY)

For a start, MCCY will work with other government agencies to identify areas which youths are interested in, she added.
 
“Whether it is about protecting our environment, or creating job opportunities in the future economy, we want to address important issues that are on the minds of our youth. We will also invite youths to propose topics that they would like to discuss and be engaged on,” she said. 

Participants can expect the conversations to be more candid and interactive, as well as broaden their horizons, she added.

Ms Fu described youths as Singapore’s present and future, and said they will be the ones bringing Singapore forward. 
 
“Our surveys show that our youths are proud to be Singaporean and are committed to the country. Many are willing and able to step up, take action and work with each other or with government on ideas and projects that will bring us forward,” she added. 
 
She said that her ministry is experimenting with different and novel modes of engagement, and that it will use technology to stay relevant and connected with youths. 
 
“We will be developing a digital platform that can facilitate real-time conversations across larger online communities, and enable participants to build and sustain connections with one another,” she said.
 
Participants in Youth Conversations can expect the conversations to be “more candid and interactive”, she added. 

Source: CNA/ja

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