Protecting the soul of the city

Dr Park (right) having a discussion with some of the participants of the International Symposium on Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Bayview Hotel Georgetown, Penang. With them is GTWHI deputy general manager Dr Ang Ming Chee (middle).

PENANG is seeking bilateral cooperation with a Unesco body to enhance the management of the state’s tangible and intangible heritage.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state government hoped to engage in more bilateral collaboration with the International Information and Networking Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia Pacific Region (ICHCAP) for the purpose.

He said the state government had introduced a series of initiatives, measures and policies to preserve, protect and promote the outstanding universal values and unique heritage legacy of the state.

The George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) had initiated two intangible cultural heritage inventories to complement the inventory of the state’s built tangible heritage.

“The first focuses on traditional traders and craftsmanship while the other focuses on the festivals of George Town.

“For the well-being of our residents and for improved visitors’ experience, we seek an equilibrium of balance between urban development and preservation of heritage.

“After all, heritage, including intangible cultural heritage, is the soul of the city,” he said when opening the three-day International Symposium on Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Bayview Hotel Georgetown on Monday

The five domains of intangible cultural heritage as defined by Unesco in 2003 are oral traditions and expressions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, as well as traditional craftsmanship.

ICHCAP assistant director-general Dr Seong-Yong Park said sustainable development was becoming an increasingly important part of sustaining communities which sustain and safeguard cultural heritage.

“In addition, we need to look at the collaboration among actors and how to develop partnerships to sustain the value of intangible cultural heritage and its transmission.

“This can contribute to a better life for both present and future generations,” he said in his keynote address.

GTWHI general manager Lim Chooi Ping said the symposium was aimed at strengthening the co-operation and collaboration between practitioners, policymakers, researchers, activists and communities in order to infuse sustainability into the intangible cultural heritage of respective sites.

The symposium, co-organised by the GTWHI and Penang Institute, featured a diverse lineup of speakers.

They included representatives from the Malaysian Department of National Heritage, the Singapore National Heritage Board, the Macau Cultural Affairs Bureau, the Heritage City of Vigan in the Philippines, as well as scholars and researchers from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and Malaysia.

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