Just click on this link to read the saga on a small donation to the Malay Heritage Centre. In short, a family had donated some stuff to MHC, which is now dragging its feet on some basic information requested by the family. Doesn’t sound too bad on the part of MHC right? Think again. MHC had taken the donations under its wings, only to inform the donors that some had been broken/termite-infested. AND to add serious insult to injury, MHC had requested the damaged stuff to be taken back by the donors who were also asked to pay some ‘storage fee”. **FAINTS…….
Even the parent Ministry overseeing MHC says this is a ‘private matter’ and it does not want to intervene. The donors are right; when someone donates their stuff to the state, and a dispute occurs with the private-side accusing the public-side with serious allegations, surely there can not be anything ‘private’ about the matter?
The overall situation in National Heritage Board is all a bit convoluted. MHC does come under the control of NHB. But with so many ‘heads’ in NHB (due to the presences of so many departments [click here to see more – including ‘National Collection’, ‘Heritage Institutions’ and ‘Heritage Conservation Centre’), a few humble artefacts may get shunted left and right, together with the responsibility that goes with the care of such items. Add to this the fact that NHB was recently transferred from its long-time ministry to a brand new one that had just been set-up. Too many moving parts!
NHB, overall, has the grave responsibility of taking care of ‘artefacts’ under its charge for posterity. If the allegations are true, how can the contested items be broken and termite-eaten, and the public-servant custodians drag their feet on the smple requests of the donors? Whatever the ‘truth ‘may be, has NHB grown since the 1990s into a huge, untamable monster that has devoured ‘Singapore heritage’ to the detriment of the public it purportedly serves?