The Malay Heritage Foundation

Sembang Ilmu Plus (+) Series #06 – The Destiny of Heritage – Our Common Challenges

In an era where the past and future intersect in the complex tapestry of the present, the Sembang Ilmu Plus (+) Series forum has emerged as a pivotal platform for dialogue and discovery. On a bright Saturday morning, the 17th of February, 2024, the National Library Building’s The POD was abuzz with anticipation for the final session of this enlightening series. Themed “The Destiny of Heritage – Our Common Challenges”, this event promised a deep dive into the essence of our collective heritage and the pressing need to preserve it amidst the whirlwind of modernity.

Supported by the Andika Warisan Temasek Foundation, in collaboration with the National Library Board Singapore, this session marked a significant milestone in the journey of cultural discourse within the region. It offered a unique convergence of minds and souls, all united by a common passion for understanding and safeguarding our shared past. As the doors opened to attendees, the air was filled with a sense of purpose and the promise of engaging discussions led by a panel of esteemed speakers, each ready to shed light on the multifaceted challenges and opportunities that lie in the preservation of heritage.

Following this introduction, the event unfolded as a testament to the enduring power of heritage in shaping our future, drawing a diverse crowd eager to participate in this crucial conversation.

🎤 Host and MHF Assistant General Manager, Fadli Idris, warmly welcomes guests, setting the stage for an engaging journey down memory lane through the previous Sembang Ilmu Plus(+) sessions. (📸 Credit: MHF)

A Resounding Finale: Sembang Ilmu Plus(+) Concludes with Insightful Deliberations on Heritage’s Destiny

Saturday, 17 February 2024 – In a grand culmination of knowledge and cultural discourse, the Sembang Ilmu Plus(+), or SIP(+) forum, supported by the Andika Warisan, Temasek Foundation, held its sixth and final session on the 17th of February 2024 at The POD, National Library Building, Singapore. The event, themed “The Destiny of Heritage – Our Common Challenges”, offered attendees an unparalleled opportunity to explore the multifaceted significance of heritage in the contemporary era.

The forum commenced at 11 AM, marking the beginning of an immersive two-hour session that delved deep into the realms of heritage education, future-making through historical preservation, and the development of a nuanced understanding of our shared pasts. The event attracted a diverse audience, eager to gain insights from the distinguished panel of speakers: Ms. Aidli Mosbit, Dr. Ivan Kwek Eng Tai, and Ms. Sunitha Janamohanan, each bringing their unique perspective to the table.

🌟 Teman Warisan and Moderator Shireen Marican takes centre stage, setting the tone for an enlightening exploration of heritage preservation at the Sembang Ilmu Plus(+) Forum. 🎙️(📸 Credit: MHF)

In the grand tapestry of the SIP(+) Forum, the stage was set by none other than Teman Warisan and the esteemed moderator, Shireen Marican. With a flair for engaging audiences and a deep-seated passion for cultural heritage, Shireen masterfully wove the day’s narrative, introducing the forum’s theme, “The Destiny of Heritage – Our Common Challenges“. As the audience settled into the vibrant atmosphere of The POD, National Library Building, Shireen’s eloquent introduction set the tone for a day of insightful deliberation and discovery. Her ability to frame the conversation within the broader context of our shared heritage challenges not only captivated those present but also prepared them for the profound explorations that were to follow.

With the stage thus set, Shireen gracefully introduced each speaker, beginning with Ms. Aidli Mosbit, whose talk on heritage education promised to ignite a passion for cultural legacy among the youth. Following her was Dr. Ivan Kwek Eng Tai, whose anthropological lens on heritage as a dynamic entity reshaped conventional understandings. Lastly, Ms. Sunitha Janamohanan took the podium, bridging the gap between heritage experts and the wider community with her inclusive approach. Each introduction by Shireen not only highlighted the speakers’ distinguished backgrounds but also teased the depth of insight they were about to share, making it clear that this was not just another forum, but a journey into the heart of our collective heritage.

🌟 Aidli captivates the audience with her visionary approach to heritage education for the youth, igniting sparks of inspiration and curiosity. 🔥 (📸 Credit: MHF)

Renowned Theatre Luminary Urges Youth to Embrace Their Cultural Roots

In a stirring address at the SIP(+) forum, Ms. Aidli Mosbit, acclaimed playwright and Senior Lecturer at Temasek Polytechnic, illuminated the paramount importance of heritage education in shaping the cultural resilience of younger generations. Aidli, a luminary in Singapore’s theatre scene, brought her wealth of experience and passion for cultural preservation to the forefront as she delivered a compelling presentation titled “What the Youth Needs Now: Heritage Education” at the SIP(+) Forum. With a career spanning prestigious accolades and global performances, including Singapore’s Official 2015 Oscar® Entry for Best Foreign Language Film, Aidli’s insights resonated deeply with the audience.

Drawing from her multifaceted journey in the arts and academia, Aidli emphasised the pivotal role of heritage education as a conduit for cultural preservation. She passionately articulated that instilling a profound understanding of one’s cultural heritage fosters a sense of identity, belonging, and resilience among the younger generation. Through her engaging discourse, Aidli underscored the transformative power of heritage education in preserving traditions, instilling values, and fostering intergenerational bonds.

A highlight of Aidli’s presentation was her introduction of the A.E.D framework – Adventure, Enthusiasm, and Discovery – as a guiding principle for heritage education. Through vivid anecdotes and practical examples, she elucidated how initiatives such as overseas study trips, experiential learning, and cultural immersion contribute to a holistic understanding of heritage.

Moreover, Aidli delved into the broader implications of heritage education, highlighting its role in promoting cultural diversity, fostering community building, and driving economic growth through cultural tourism. Her nuanced exploration of the interconnectedness between heritage and global citizenship resonated deeply with the audience, sparking meaningful discussions on the importance of preserving cultural identity in an increasingly interconnected world.

In conclusion, Aidli Mosbit’s impassioned advocacy for heritage education served as a clarion call for action, urging stakeholders to prioritise the transmission of cultural knowledge to future generations. As the curtain fell on her captivating presentation, attendees left inspired and empowered to embrace their cultural heritage as a source of strength and resilience in an ever-changing world.

🌟 Dr. Ivan electrifies the audience with his groundbreaking perspective on heritage, framing it as a dynamic continuum that shapes our future. 💡 (📸 Credit: MHF)
💭 Audience engagement lights up the room as participants eagerly share their top-of-mind thoughts on heritage! 🤔 (📸 Credit: MHF)

Reimagining Heritage for Future Generations

In a captivating presentation at the SIP(+) Forum, Dr. Ivan Kwek Eng Tai, a Senior Lecturer at the National University of Singapore, challenged conventional perspectives on heritage, offering a fresh perspective on how heritage relates to time and space.

Dr. Ivan’s talk delved deep into the notion of heritage, presenting it as not being about relics of the past but rather as a product, of a congeries of ongoing practices, objects and institutions, which serves the interest of the present while imagining forms of its continuity into the future. In his view, heritage is not just there to be treasured but is, in fact, socially constructed through ongoing processes of material labour and institutional practices.

Using thought-provoking slides and engaging anecdotes, Dr. Ivan guided the audience through a paradigm shift in understanding heritage. By intertwining heritage with discussions on collective memory and community identity, he challenged attendees to ponder whose heritage is being preserved and what narratives might be hidden in the process.

One of the highlights of Dr. Ivan’s presentation was his interactive approach, inviting audience members to reflect on their own perceptions of heritage through a QR code activity. This fostered meaningful dialogue and introspection among participants, igniting a passion for reimagining heritage in contemporary contexts.

Dr. Ivan’s innovative perspective on heritage as a practice of future-making left a lasting impression on all attendees. By urging us to rethink our relationship with heritage, he paved the way for a more inclusive and dynamic approach to cultural heritage. Importantly, this includes recognising that future generations will have different needs and realities – and that the heritage we produce today as meaningful and valuable is not necessarily the case for future generations. This runs up against the conviction that heritage is something that must be preserved. In its place, he concludes, heritage and heritage-making could be recast as ongoing dialogues that attempt to foster relationships across time and space. 

💡 Sunitha shines a light on the rich tapestry of perspectives surrounding heritage, emphasising the pivotal role of community engagement. 🌟 (📸 Credit: MHF)

Unveiling the Uncommon Understanding of Heritage

In a riveting exploration of cultural heritage, Ms. Sunitha Janamohanan, an esteemed figure in the arts and heritage sector with over two decades of experience, took the stage as the final speaker. With a diverse portfolio spanning arts management, curation, and heritage preservation in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, Malaysia, Sunitha brought a wealth of expertise to her presentation. Her academic background, including an MA in Arts Administration from Columbia University, New York, and her role as a member of the Heritage Advisory Panel for the National Heritage Board of Singapore, underscored her authority on the subject.

Throughout her discourse, Sunitha challenged conventional notions of heritage, urging attendees to look beyond the surface rhetoric often espoused by official bodies like UNESCO and state heritage departments. She emphasised the importance of forging meaningful connections within communities to deepen understanding and commitment to safeguarding cultural heritage.

One of the key highlights of Sunitha’s discourse was her exploration of the concept of “common” and “community” in relation to heritage. One of the key highlights of Sunitha’s discourse was her exploration of the concept of “common” and “community” in relation to heritage, delving into the origins of these terms and shedding light on their significance in shaping our understanding of heritage preservation. 

Sunitha’s thought-provoking slides provided further insights into the complexities of heritage discourse, touching upon topics such as the Authorised Heritage Discourse (AHD) and the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. By emphasising the validity of traditional approaches to heritage preservation, she encouraged attendees to adopt a more personal and inclusive perspective.

The audience was deeply engaged throughout the session, with Sunitha’s compelling presentation sparking lively discussions and reflections. Her call to action resonated strongly with attendees, inspiring them to rethink their roles in preserving and celebrating cultural heritage within their communities.

As her presentation came to a close, Sunitha’s impactful discourse left a lasting impression on all who attended, igniting a renewed sense of passion and purpose in the ongoing journey of heritage preservation. With her insights, Sunitha has undoubtedly paved the way for a more inclusive and enlightened approach to safeguarding our shared cultural legacy.

🎙️ Getting ready for the ultimate showdown of insights as the Q&A segment kicks off! (📸 Credit: MHF)
Sparks will fly and minds will collide as audience members seize the opportunity to delve deeper into the fascinating world of heritage preservation. 💬 (📸 Credit: MHF)

Moderated by Teman Warisan Shireen Marican, the session facilitated engaging discussions, encouraging participants to reflect on how heritage shapes our identity and collective memory in a rapidly changing world.

The SIP(+) Forum, held at the iconic National Library Building, not only served as a beacon for cultural aficionados but also underscored the vital collaboration between Andika Warisan, Temasek Foundation, and the National Library Board Singapore in championing the cause of heritage preservation.

As the curtains closed on this enlightening series, participants left with renewed inspiration and a deeper appreciation for the intricate tapestry of our shared heritage. The event hailed as a journey through time and culture, reaffirmed the importance of preserving our past to forge a meaningful future. Through their presentations, the speakers illuminated the paths toward a more inclusive, engaged, and thoughtful approach to heritage preservation, laying the groundwork for future dialogues and actions in this vital field.

In the wake of this memorable finale, the legacy of SIP(+) continues to inspire a widespread commitment to heritage education and preservation, ensuring that the stories of our ancestors resonate with generations to come.

🌟 The panellists strike a pose alongside MHF Vice-Chairman, Dr. Azhar Ibrahim (standing second from right), capturing a moment of camaraderie and collaboration at the SIP(+) Forum! 🤝 (📸 Credit: MHF)

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Useful Links

  1. Full Video: Part I | Part II
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