NHB director becomes first Singaporean to be elected to Unesco body
A heritage director who played a key role in having hawker culture recognised by Unesco will become the first Singaporean elected to its evaluation body.
Mr Yeo Kirk Siang of the National Heritage Board (NHB) will be on a 12-member international panel reviewing and recommending nominations for intangible cultural heritage to the United Nations agency.
He said it was vital to preserve the cultural heritage of cities, adding: "I think Singapore can contribute with our multicultural perspective and urban experience.
"It's important to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage in cities, especially since more than half of the world's population live in them. At the moment, many of the cultural practices on Unesco's list contain rural traditions."
As director of heritage research and assessment at NHB, Mr Yeo, 41, was instrumental in the inscription of Singapore's hawker culture on Unesco's intangible cultural heritage list on Wednesday - a first for the country.
He will serve a term of four years on the 15th intergovernmental committee for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, starting on Jan 1, NHB said yesterday.
The committee includes six experts in fields of intangible cultural heritage from state parties and six representatives from non-governmental organisations accredited by Unesco.
Mr Yeo's role involves reviewing and recommending nominations for Unesco's list of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding, the representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity and the register of good safeguarding practices.
He will also look at applications by states for international assistance of more than US$100,000 (S$134,000).