After Singapore’s success, Penang says can’t submit own street hawker culture for Unesco list since not dubbed national heritage by Putrajaya
December 18, 2020 | News | No Comments
The Penang state government cannot move to submit its street hawker culture to be added into the Unesco Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity if it is not first listed as a national heritage, said state exco Yeoh Soon Hin.
The tourism and creative economy committee chairman said only the National Heritage Department can officially submit any applications for Unesco listing, following Unesco’s award to Singapore yesterday.
“Aside from that, to submit an intangible cultural heritage to Unesco for listing, it has to be first listed as a national heritage,” he said in a press conference today.
Penang had initally wanted to collaborate with Singapore to apply for both islands’ hawker culture to be added to the Unesco Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
However, the state will still need to go through the national heritage department as the application will need to be submitted by the federal government and not the state government.
Yesterday, Unesco accepted Singapore’s application for its street hawker culture to be listed in the Unesco Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The decision was made in virtual proceedings without a debate on it as Singapore had fulfilled all 15 criteria.
Yeoh said Singapore is different as they had made the application as a country while Penang could not do that as it would still need to go through the federal government.
He said he had written to the national heritage department when news broke that Singapore had submitted its application to Unesco in March last year.
“I wrote to the national heritage department and the ministry of tourism and culture to join with Singapore in the application as it is a better strategy to combine application of both countries,” he said.
He said the ministry of tourism and culture replied that it was not ready to submit the application as the preparation involved a lengthy process that included detailed studies, complete inventories and preservation plans.
“So, Malaysia was unable to join in with Singapore in its application to Unesco,” he said.
He said there were a lot of procedures in preparing to apply to Unesco for listing.
Yeoh said the state had set up a working committee, chaired by Machang Bubok assemblyman Lee Khai Loon, to study the street hawker culture in Penang.
“In December 2019, my office ordered George Town World Heritage Incorporated to prepare a working paper to study the street hawker culture,” he said.
He said GTWHI submitted the working paper in early 2020 and it is now being studied by the working committee.
“According to GTWHI, the working paper is divided into two phases, the first phase will take three years and the second phase will take two years,” he said.
He said the working committee is now looking through the working paper and once it is completed, they will submit it to the national heritage department for consideration.
“Whether the national heritage department will accept our proposal is another issue,” he said.