SPEECH BY CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG
AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE 2017 SOUTHEAST ASIAN COLLABORATIVE MEETING
ON SAFEGUARDING INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
ON 18.09.2017 (MONDAY), 9.00 A.M
SRI MAS BALLROOM, BAYVIEW HOTEL GEORGE TOWN
Members of the Press
Ladies and Gentlemen
A very good morning to all of you, Salam Bersih and welcome to George Town, Penang.
As the chairman of George Town World Heritage Incorporated and the Chief Minister of Penang, I am very proud to host this “2017 Southeast Asian Collaborative Meeting on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage” in George Town, Penang.
I would like to congratulate GTWHI (George Town World Heritage Incorporated) and ICHCAP (International Information and Networking Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region under the auspices of UNESCO) for successfully hosting this significant event in the historic city of George Town.
I would also like to welcome our guests from UNESCO, ICHCAP, Korea, and our brothers and sisters from ASEAN family to this Pearl of Orient. Thank you for travelling here and I hope you all had a smooth trip. For the next few days, the team in Penang will host you with our signature hospitality, and share with you our rich, diverse, and living cultural heritage. Throughout your stay in Penang, I would like to invite you to explore our unique townscape, lined with heritage buildings and highly vibrant and organic living heritage from various cultural and socio background. I am confident that our rich cultural backdrop will contribute positively to your experience in exchanging integrated approaches in safeguarding tangible and intangible cultural heritage.
The theme of this meeting, “Enhancing Viability in Intangible Cultural Heritage Community” has a special focus on the Southeast Asian region. This presents a platform for an important cross-boundary collaboration to identify our collective strengths and explore new opportunities to foster better cultural heritage safeguarding engagements. We need to understand our past so that we can be better connected to the present so as to face the challenges of the future successfully together.
We in George Town are proud of and have strived to fulfil our promise as a UNESCO World Heritage Site that conserve and safeguard both the tangible and intangible cultural heritage through public-private-professional partnerships that will be the most productive as well as attracting resources both financial and expert advice.
Perhaps one of the prime paradigms of the above notion is the tripartite collaboration between the city of George Town, Think City and Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC). Think City – a special project vehicle under the national investment body – has substantial expertise in the field of sustainable urban regeneration, and it is no coincidence that their pilot programme took off here in George Town. Our rich heritage and tradition have also attracted the attention of Aga Khan Trust for Culture and in 2013; we signed our first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which is later expanded in 2015 for another additional 3 years.
Such partnerships have enabled us to facilitate comprehensive and strategic planning, and development as well as conservation efforts within the designated heritage site effectively and pragmatically, coupled with the financial support and talented resource pool. This case also testifies the potential and opportunities of our heritage in George Town, and how its future can be promisingly shaped by working together beyond boundaries.
Today, we also have our local community leaders and representatives with us in this plenary hall. They are the unsung heroes who have selflessly devoted themselves to the responsibilities of a custodian for our heritage. Please engage with them in your discussions, as sharing of learnt lessons will be the most powerful outcome of this meeting. Such exchanges between practitioners and the residents concerned will also be one of the best ways to keep our heritage safeguarding efforts sustainable and pragmatic.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are only few months away from 2018 which will mark the 10th anniversary of George Town as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The journey we have been through from the beginning is nothing less than extraordinary and fulfilling. With the strong support from local, national and international agencies, I am confident we are able to achieve greater milestones and breakthroughs moving forward. I hope this symposium will also help in expanding our network of collaborations and to activate stronger support from both the public and private towards the good fight we are facing.