Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong asked the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth with regard to the upcoming survey on intangible cultural heritage (a) how will the vendors be evaluated for their expertise in conducting the survey; (b) whether all findings of the survey and findings from previous research done by the National Heritage Board will be released to the public and, if not, why not; and (c) whether there will be extensive public consultations in the creation of the national inventory.
Mr Kok Heng Leun asked the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth with regard to the intangible cultural heritage survey commissioned by NHB (a) whether a 16-month period is sufficient for a survey of such a scale; (b) whether the many other cases apart from the 150 cases will be covered; (c) whether there will be another survey conducted and, if so, when; (d) how will the agency conducting the survey be selected; and (e) what will NHB do with the survey and research results.
Ms Grace Fu Hai Yien: NHB is committed to safeguarding our tangible heritage, such as our national monuments. Beyond such tangible heritage, we also want to safeguard and deepen our understanding of Singapore’s intangible cultural heritage.
We are guided by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in definitions of intangible heritage. UNESCO describes intangible heritage to include practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills that communities and individuals recognise as part of their cultural heritage. Intangible cultural heritage is “living” heritage that is transmitted by communities, organisations and individuals from one generation to the next, and will evolve over time. These include rituals, traditions, foods and ways of life that bind us as Singaporeans. While Government agencies can support their promotion and transmission, the community and practitioners play a major role in safeguarding these aspects of our shared heritage.
The upcoming survey will identify key elements of Singapore’s intangible cultural heritage. It will complement the tangible heritage survey that NHB embarked last year.
As with all government procurement, we will evaluate the tender for the survey based on the key principles of transparency, open and fair competition, and value for money. The selected vendor needs to demonstrate their expertise in intangible cultural heritage as well as heritage research and fieldwork.
We will share the findings on NHB’s online platforms such as the Roots.sg heritage portal, and through exhibitions and educational programmes that NHB will be developing. NHB’s past research findings on topics such as traditional trades are already available on Roots.sg and on its HeritageTV YouTube channel.
NHB is working on the basis of a 16 month project duration to derive findings in this survey of Singapore’s intangible cultural heritage elements which can be shared with the public. As this is the first such survey to be undertaken, the length of time is assessed to be optimal for the scope defined and the resources to be dedicated to the survey.
This survey is only the beginning of our efforts to deepen our understanding of our intangible heritage. After the survey is completed, NHB will continue to identify and document additional elements over time. NHB will also continue to collaborate with our partners to conduct more detailed research in selected areas. Currently, NHB’s survey is guided by its Heritage Advisory Panel comprising external experts from different fields. Over the coming months, NHB will consult heritage groups, stakeholders and practitioners; as well as invite the public to contribute their knowledge, memories and stories.