Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre International Workshop and Launch of the Archaeology Unit Gallery

This workshop is an open forum sharing experiences of practitioners, policy makers and researchers from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand. The speakers showcase current – many as yet unpublished internationally-projects that give voice to local priorities.

Monday, 14 March 2016 – This two-day workshop, organised by the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre at ISEAS, brought together heritage professionals, academics, practitioners, policymakers and grassroots organisations from six countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand.

Welcoming Remarks by Dr Terence Chong, Head, Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre (NSC), ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. From left to right: Dr Kyle Latinis, Dr Helene Njoto, both Visiting Fellows, NSC, ISEAS and Professor Elizabeth Moore, Visiting Senior Fellow, NSC

This was followed by an introduction to the workshop by the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre Convenors, Professor Elizabeth Moore, Visiting Senior Fellow, Dr Kyle Latinis, Visiting Fellow, and Dr Helene Njoto, Visiting Fellow, all from the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre at ISEAS.

Professor Moore, one of the three NSC Convenors, giving a short introduction about the workshop (Source: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

First Day of the Workshop

The first day of the workshop was on Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia and Cambodia. The speakers talked about the different ways they chose to promote heritage awareness in their area. Solutions were many. One Indonesian speaker, Mr. Dwi Cahyono, had opened a restaurant cum museum to encourage local residents to see and talk about heritage objects of Malang City. One of the panellists for Thailand, Ms Mizuho Ikeda, talked about an active civil group in Phrae promoting heritage but face challenges due to funding and seeking ways to coordinate with municipal authorities. She introduced the concept of Hagi-shi in Japan, where the urban heritage system links local residents and officials through a system connecting local stories to tangible evidence.  Another Thai speaker, Dr Surat Lertlum, introduced a unique transborder cooperation with Cambodia through a joint programme of archaeological survey and education programmes with high schools in both Thailand and Cambodia.
All the papers were first-hand reporting about projects in cities across Indonesia and at the ancient site of Muara Jambi in Sumatra. The Thailand speakers presented about work in the ancient city of Lampang, with architectural heritage in Chiang Mai, and at a series of ancient temples and rest-houses of circa the 9th to 14th century CE stretching from Phimai in Northeast Thailand to Angkor in Cambodia. Other Cambodian speakers highlighted organic farming projects in the Angkor Historical Park and the need for in-tandem ecological and archaeological heritage to be sustainable.
The First Day of the Workshop also included a poster presentation by the Archaeology Unit of NSC at ISEAS – Yusok Ishak Institute. The themes of the posters are “Excavated Ceramics of Singapore: Pre-Colonial to Colonial Artefacts”; “The Archaeology of Singapore: Ancient Temasek and the Colonial Period”; and “Volunteerism in Singapore Archaeology”.

The 3 posters – Archaeology of Singapore, Excavated Ceramics of Singapore and Volunteerism in Singapore Archaeology on display during the workshop (Source: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

Dr Chong, with H.E. Tan Boun Suy after the official opening of the Archaeology Unit Gallery at ISEAS Library (Source: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

At the end of the paper presentations, H.E. Tan Boun Suy opened the special exhibit (please click  to view) mounted by NSC’s Archaeology Unit in the ISEAS Library highlighting archaeological work in Singapore as well as past NSC archaeological field school sessions in Cambodia.

The opening remarks of H.E. Tan Boun Suy can be downloaded here.

Participants touring the gallery after its official opening (Source: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

Artefacts currently on display at the gallery (Source: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

Second Day of the Workshop

Dr Hui Yew-Foong, Senior Fellow and Coordinator, Indonesia Studies Programme, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, speaking on Bukit Brown and The Role of The Community. From left to right: Mr Lim Chen Sian, Associate Fellow, Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre (NSC), ISEAS, Associate Professor Derek Heng, Yale-NUS College and Visiting Senior Fellow, NSC, Dr Nigel Taylor, Director, Singapore Botanic Gardens and Associate Professor Yeo Kang Shua, Singapore University of Technology and Design (Source: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

The Second Day of the Workshop opened with the Singapore panel. The speakers highlighted the range and depth of heritage awareness projects in Singapore, from the vital importance of the community in recording the heritage of the Bukit Brown Cemetery, to excavations at a series of sites in downtown Singapore that document habitation dating back to the 14th century. The participation of local residents past and present was underlined in the presentation on the Botanic Gardens, from the start of important colonial crops such as rubber, orchids and oil palms, to the preservation of an ancient tree famous today as a place for a young man to propose marriage to his beloved.

Associate Professor Yeo, one of the speakers in the Singapore Panel, presenting his research: “Between Positivist and Relativist Approach in Recent Community-Owned Architectural Conservation Projects in Singapore”
(Source: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

The final Singapore presentation profiled the changing norms of architectural conservation of Chinese temples, from a  “3R Principle” of ”Maximum Retention, Sensitive Restoration and Careful Repair” to a nuanced approach appreciation the temple as a living monument together with its contents, able to function for religious and non-religious as well as clansmen and the wider public.

The Myanmar Panel (From left to right): Mr Soe Win Naing, President, Myanmar Archaeology Association, H.E. Daw Sanda Khin, Deputy Minister of Culture (MOC), Archaeology, Nay Pyi Taw, Professor Elizabeth Moore, Visiting Senior Fellow, Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre (NSC), ISEAS, Professor Su Su, Head of Department, Mandalay Technological University and Ms Ma Ohnmar Myo, Cultural Officer, UNESCO, Yangon (Source: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

The second panel on Myanmar highlighted the quick rise in heritage awareness and heritage trusts in the process of and subsequent to the inscription of the Pyu Ancient Cities on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014. As the three Pyu Ancient Cities inscribed are hundreds of kilometers apart, reaching the public meant offering soon or a meal to monks in the many monasteries of the ancient sites, talking to farmers whose primary interests are their crops and families, and reaching out to elementary and high school students.

Mr Soe touching on “The Role of Myanmar Archaeology Association” and seated next to him is H.E. Daw Sanda Khin (Source: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

Other sites highlighted by the Myanmar panel included the thousands of ancient Buddhist structures at the circa 9th to 13th century CE city of Bagan, and the Colonial and Modernist architectural heritage of Yangon.

Dr Goh Hsiao Mei, Centre for Global Archaeological Research, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, presenting “The Pitfalls and Prospects of Community Heritage Engagement in Malaysian Archaeology” to the workshop participants and looking on is fellow pannellist, Mr Mohd Syahrin Abdullah, Department of National Heritage, Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia (Source: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

The final panel on Malaysia spanned the immense prehistoric Lenggong Valley inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List to safeguarding of rock art on ancient rock art of Gua Tambun, a national heritage site. The panel closed with the vibrant history of the The Penang Heritage Trust in their long term encouragement of a new narratives to highlight the significance of the port city over many generations, but also the changes and challenges following the inscription of George Town and Melaka to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008.

Dr Khoo Salma, Director, Penang Heritage Trust, Penang, as the final speaker of the Malaysia Panel, touching on the “The Penang Story – A Platform For Intergenerational Community Participation in Heritage. Seated to her direct right is Professor Datin Paduka Zuraina Majoid, Independent Scholar and Commissioner of Heritage, Kuala Lumper (Source: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

Q&A session with participants of the workshop (Source: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

The Workshop closed with a lively discussion on common issues raised by the speakers. The first input was the report of the Rapporteurs, one speaker from each panel who summarized the key points and successes of another panel. The Rapporteurs underlined the word “heritage”, asking what it means in each of the six countries featured in the workshop. Following input from several speakers and public participants, the discussion then moved to how heritage is promoted, the need for government and non-governmental cooperation, funding and finally the diverse and creative ways that all projects presented by the Speakers had found to engage and sustain community interest in heritage awareness.

Close to 100 participants attended this 2-day workshop.