Public Forum: The Cost and Value of Heritage in Singapore: The Belitung Shipwreck and Bukit Brown

The Singapore Heritage Society is organising a public forum on April 14 to discuss several heritage-related issues that have become hot topics over the past few months – the partial destruction of a large cemetery Bukit Brown, and the controversy over the Belitung shipwreck. Register here.

The Cost and Value of Heritage in Singapore: The Belitung Shipwreck and Bukit Brown
Date: 14 April (Saturday)
Venue: Mochtar Riady Auditorium, Level 5, Administration Building, Singapore Management University, 81 Victoria Street, Singapore 188065
Start Time: 2.00 pm

In general, heritage refers to the inheritance – both physical and intangible – bequeathed on the present by the past. Beneath this straightforward understanding, however, lies myriad implications and complications, particularly in the present age of globalised interests and diverse nation-states. While there is little dispute about the overall value of heritage in providing a window of knowledge to the past, that value is usually complicated by questions of ownership, the costs of recovery and preservation/conservation. Such questions raise further issues, including the tussle between tradition and development, the ethics and legalities surrounding heritage recovery and conservation, and engagement between the state and civil society.

Such issues were ever-present in the recent Belitung shipwreck controversy as well as in the ongoing debate over the future of Bukit Brown Cemetery. The manner in which Singapore has approached these two heritage issues and others has significant implications and consequences for how Singapore determines the value of its heritage, or, indeed, how heritage is defined in Singapore in the first place. What are the considerations and concerns involved in making such decisions? How far is Singapore willing to go to preserve or to conserve heritage?

To address those questions and to raise public awareness of such issues, the Singapore Heritage Society and the School of Law, Singapore Management University, bring together a distinguished panel of professionals to share their expertise and to reflect on their experiences working in particular areas of Singapore’s heritage.

More details and registration here.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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