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Giving A Future To Our Past - Reflections On Developing The Heritage Conservation Cause

Chua Ai Lin, President of the Singapore Heritage Society shows how heritage plays an important role in our humanity and future.

‘Giving a Future to our Past’ - Reflections on Developing the Heritage Conservation Cause

 

In the year 2015, on the 50th anniversary of independence, Singapore saw its greatest celebration of history which was impressive because the past is often thought of as something that has held us back from charging towards a better future. The year of SG50 (shorthand for ‘Singapore at 50 years of independence’) saw the conclusion of the National Library Board’s (NLB’s) five-year Singapore Memory Project, which aimed to collect five million memories from ordinary citizens and which funded 74 community projects via the irememberSG fund. 2015 was also the year in which the country’s first World Heritage Site, the Singapore Botanic Gardens, was inscribed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). There are also 71 national monuments gazetted by the National Heritage Board (NHB) and over 7,200 buildings gazetted for conservation by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). The picture for heritage at this point looks rosy, and very different from the context in which the Singapore Heritage Society (SHS) was founded in 1987.

 

At that time, a group of concerned citizens led by architect, William S W Lim, formed the Singapore Heritage Society to call for heritage conservation and to fill the gap in public discourse on heritage matters. This came soon after URA released its very first Conservation Master Plan for historic areas in 1986. Today, SHS’s primary role continues to be that of an independent voice for heritage conservation in Singapore, articulating principles and disseminating knowledge based on research and international best practices. What are the issues at the forefront of the Society’s concerns in the year 2016? What approaches can we take to achieve SHS’s vision of ‘Giving a Future to Our Past’?

 

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