Tangible and Intangible Culture Heritage of Kreta Ayer (Chinatown)

Topic Tangible and Intangible Culture Heritage of Kreta Ayer (Chinatown)
​Speaker Dr Wong Chee Meng (Visiting Scholar, Centre for Chinese Language & Culture, NTU)
Chairperson ​Dr Lim Boon Hock (Senior Assistant Director, Chinese Heritage Centre, NTU)
​Time 24 January 2018 (Wednesday), 2:30 - 4pm
​Venue HSS Meeting Room 2 (HSS-03-93)

About Speaker 

Dr Wong Chee Meng graduated from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese Studies, and obtained his masters and doctoral degrees in Heritage Studies from the Brandenburg Technological University Cottbus in Germany. He has conducted modules in Chinese cinema and Chinese cultural history as a postdoctoral fellow with Nanyang Technological University (NTU). His main research interest is in Chinese cultural heritage in Singapore’s multi-ethnic society. Apart from publishing papers on safeguarding of intangible heritage, heritage and national identity in Singapore, Qing-dynasty literature and other topics, he has also been active as a theatre critic, with a focus on intercultural theatre in Singapore. As a visiting research fellow with NTU, he is currently involved in a research project on cultural heritage of Chinese schools in Singapore. His research focus would otherwise include cultural spaces among Chinese dialect groups for Chinese opera and other forms of intangible heritage, and literary activities among Singapore Chinese between the late Qing and Chinese Republican period.   ​


Niu Che Shui or Kreta Ayer has long been identified as Singapore’s ‘Chinatown’ and thus presented as a tourist attraction. Historical sources suggest that this district has been known as early as the late 19th century to be a Cantonese enclave, and also a hub for Chinese restaurants, theatres and other forms of entertainment. After the displacement of street hawkers in 1983, Kreta Ayer received conservation status in 1989 as part of a larger Chinatown historical area. Following a plan to ‘revitalise’ Chinatown as announced by the Singapore Tourism Board in 1998, a Chinatown food street and a Chinatown Heritage Centre have been introduced in Kreta Ayer. But what other aspects of culture used to be experienced in Kreta Ayer, and how may one find new approaches to transmit or revitalise such forms of culture as ‘intangible heritage’? What is the relationship between such ‘intangible heritage’ and various sites and institutions in this area, such as clan associations, schools and theatres? This talk will seek to provide some insights on the transformation of Niu Che Shui over time, and to redefine the domains and boundaries of cultural heritage in Singapore’s ‘Chinatown’.  ​

Event Poster


Event At A Glimpse


​​​Dr Wong Chee Meng

Chairperson ​Dr Lim Boon Hock and Speaker Dr Wong Chee Meng
Dr Wong Chee Meng giving the presentation
 Audiences were captivated by Dr Wong Chee Meng's presentation
​During Q&A session

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Event Report (in Chinese)