In bid for sole Unesco recognition, Penang govt says Singapore hawker culture not ‘so authentic’

People eat assam laksa in George Town May 2, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
People eat assam laksa in George Town May 2, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, May 9 — Penang has proposed that Malaysia nominate its hawker culture as an intangible cultural heritage under Unesco’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage on its own instead of a joint nomination with Singapore.

Tourism Development and Heritage Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said Singapore hawker fare was not “so authentic” as every hawker stall was under the government’s control.

“From my perspective, we should submit a nomination for Malaysia’s hawker culture to include other states such as Ipoh, Melaka and Kuala Lumpur, not only Penang,” he said during a press conference today after announcing an Art of Goodwill Charity Auction here.

He said Malaysia can always try for sole nomination instead of a joint one with Singapore which was the initial proposal.

“We will leave it to the National Heritage Department to decide because this is their jurisdiction and only they can submit the nomination to Unesco,” he said.

He believed that it would be easier for Malaysia to submit a joint nomination with Singapore because this “was encouraged by Unesco”.

He used the joint inscription of George Town together with Melaka as world heritage sites as an example.

Yeoh said it is possible that Singapore had already submitted a nomination to Unesco and that Malaysia could join in their nomination.

“I hope the National Heritage Department can be more aggressive in this to make sure our nomination goes through,” he said.

Penang state Tourism Development, Heritage, Culture and Arts Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin speaks to the press regarding the Art For Goodwill Charity Auction at Lebuh Pantai May 9, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Penang state Tourism Development, Heritage, Culture and Arts Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin speaks to the press regarding the Art For Goodwill Charity Auction at Lebuh Pantai May 9, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Earlier, Yeoh announced an art auction which was in aid of the Federation of Malaysian Thalassaemia Societies (FMTS).

He said the project, a first by The Friends of Goodwill, will collect 50 art pieces and conduct a silent bid on the artworks.

“The objective of this exhibition and bidding exercise is mainly to create awareness for thalassaemia, a common blood disorder, and to raise funds for FMTS,” he said.

Thalassaemia is a genetic blood disorder and treatment for those with thalassaemia major included regular blood transfusions as well as medications.

Yeoh said there is still a lack of awareness on thalassaemia so there is a need to raise more awareness about the condition.

The Art for Goodwill Charity Auction will be held at Penangpac Gallery from June 8 to July 6.

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