Hang San Teng at Silat Road (Destroyed by fire)
I am glad to announce that an initiative to digitally archive all heritage material pertaining to Singapore’s past has been drawn up by me and a photographer friend. Our fortnightly fieldwork focuses on archiving architectural features and artifacts within these ‘endangered’ historical buildings for the benefit of future research and conservation purposes. So far, we have archived some buildings of heritage value, such as Tong Xian Tng at Devonshire Road and Ying Fo Fui Kun at Telok Ayer Street. As this is a non-profit initiative, our progress has been rather slow due to our involvement of the project only during weekends. We are calling for photographers equipped with 8 megapixel or more digital SLR cameras to participate in this SOH initiative. In the spirit of open source collaboration (e.g. wikipedia, Linux), a central repository of archived digital jpegs is needed for a start. I suggest that the Singapore History Museum(or Ying Fo Fui Kun) to be used as a place to convene and depositing of archived pictures. Meanwhile, we are in the process of getting support from URA, NHB, SCCCI and SHS in this project. Interested photographers and writers, please send me an email at email@example.com I will personally show you the salient architectural features and artifacts to record every alternate Saturday 10.30am at various heritage sites deemed endangered.
For a start, we will be gathering information on Singapore’s Chinese heritage since Raffles’ time. Meanwhile, we would like to encourage Singaporeans of all ethnic groups to come forth and contribute information on ‘endangered’ heritage sites (regardless of ethnic origins) that are still surviving on the island. Such heritage sites could come in the form of places of worship, houses, kampongs, familiar landmarks, cemeteries, tombs, old trees, old shops etc – essentially ‘old’ and forgotten places. It is our hope that through re-engaging our senses towards these ‘yester-year’ places physically and digitally, we can relive good memories that have so fondly been experienced by our grandfathers and greatgrandfathers. By digitizing these places and presenting it through an ‘open source’ website, we hope that the younger generation can have a better understanding of OUR common shared past as well as shared collective memories. We feel that a visit to a tourist-oriented museum such as ‘Images of Singapore’ is not sufficient. Continual participation and engagement in our real physical past could be a better alternative than merely visiting a museum once a year. Also, to debunk myths of Singapore having a short history – the oldest religeous building in Australia was built in 1801 ; in Singapore, the oldest religeous building still standing was built in 1824 (Fuk Tak Chi temple in Telok Ayer Street). The sad thing is, nobody knows that this is the oldest building in Singapore. Worst, it is not even given the due respect it deserves – a true reflection of our apathy towards our own culture. Is there value in history and the arts? Yes, there is. Art and history contribute to collective consciousness and memories; without them, we will always be that Raffles’ little trading port where goods and people come and go.
Do look out in the ‘field work’ page to see fortnightly survey sites and activity if you want to see us in action!
Founder & Editor, SOH
(Disclaimer: Public views posted in comments are not representational of the purpose of SOH. SOH is interested in the preservation and raising awareness of heritage architecture, artifacts, customs, food and memories via digital means.)