“Documentary heritage can shed light into the rich and diverse cultures of the peoples of ASEAN. They help us understand each other better and catalyse inter-cultural dialogue towards peace,” stressed Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for Socio-Cultural Community, at the opening of the symposium on Preservation and Access: Southeast Asia’s Documentary Heritage in the Digital Age yesterday.
Documentary heritage includes papyrus, parchment, paper, palm leaves, and wooden and stone tablets that form part of the traditional forms of documents. It also includes books, maps, films, television, web pages and databases. In 2012, UNESCO established the Memory of the World Programme to increase awareness of the significance of documentary heritage found in libraries, museums, and archives all over the world.
Also at the symposium was Mr. Frank Le Rue, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information of UNESCO, who emphasised that there is a need to keep the message found in documentary heritage alive by providing wider access to them through digital means. By doing so, young people would be better educated about the world’s history and diverse cultures.
The symposium was attended by representatives from cultural institutions working on documentary heritage management in ASEAN Member States, ASEAN Plus Three, and Timor Leste.
Some of ASEAN’s documentary heritage in the Asia-Pacific Memory of the World regional registry are: Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum Archives (Cambodia); Nagarakretagama or Description of the Country palm leaf manuscript (Indonesia); Neo Lao Hak Xath Film Collection (Lao PDR); Kitab Ilmu Bedil or Book of Malay Traditional Weaponry (Malaysia); Presidential Papers of Manuel L. Quezon (Philippines); Asian Film Archive Collection: Cathay-Keris Malay Classics (Singapore); Epigraphic Archives of Wat Pho (Thailand); and Stone Stele Records of Royal Examinations of the Le and Mac Dynasties (Viet Nam).
Following the symposium is the ASEAN Plus Three Consultation for the Implementation of the UNESCO Recommendation Concerning the Preservation of, and Access to, Documentary Heritage Including in Digital Form on 9-11 May in Kuala Lumpur to discuss relevant, and practical initiatives that would guide future policy on documentary heritage.