Southeast Asian Cultural Heritage Alliance – SEACHA
A joint commitment of government, the people, and the business sector
to cultural heritage protection policies and actions
to safeguard Southeast Asian cultural heritage intact for future generations
The foundation of SEACHA
In 2019, The Siam Society Under Royal Patronage organized a pan-Asian conference “Heritage Protection: The Asian Experience”, exploring the Asian experience of cultural heritage protection within the Asian socio-cultural and political context. With a diverse panel of speakers from many Asian countries and in various professions, ranging from academicians, practitioners and civil society, and with a highly engaged audience, the event was very successful. Post conference, it was clear that there is a wealth of local wisdom in the region and a consensus emerged among both audience and speakers to pursue the development of Asia’s own vision of cultural heritage protection. The Siam Society thus approached various civil society organisations in ASEAN to form an alliance for developing indigenous Asian concepts of cultural heritage protection, and for initiating programs to promote cultural heritage protection in the region.
The Southeast Asian Cultural Heritage Alliance, or SEACHA, thus emerged a few months later.
Who are the founding members of SEACHA?
SEACHA is a digital-based network of civil society organisations in ASEAN countries who are engaged in cultural heritage conservation work.
The founding organisations include:
Indonesia: The Indonesian Heritage Trust
Laos PDR: Mulberries and Phontong-Camacrafts Handicrafts Cooperative
Malaysia: The Penang Heritage Trust
Myanmar: The Yangon Heritage Trust
Philippines: The Philippines Heritage Conservation Society
Singapore: The Singapore Heritage Society
Thailand: The Siam Society Under Royal Patronage
Vietnam: The Center for Research and Promotion of Cultural Heritage of Vietnam
(Other ASEAN civil society organizations are expected to join with the founding members.)
SEACHA aims to promote effective government-community partnership in cultural heritage management, to help strengthen the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community as a people-centered third pillar of ASEAN, and serve as a networking forum between ASEAN member organizations.
What does SEACHA do?
SEACHA wishes to establish a cultural heritage “Social Contract” within ASEAN. The intention is to link governments, communities, and the business sector in a joint commitment to cultural heritage protection policies and actions in order to safeguard ASEAN cultural heritage intact for future generations. The Social Contract includes, but is not limited to, cultural heritage related laws and regulations, cultural heritage governance, cultural heritage education, cultural heritage civil society, and community capacity building in cultural heritage. The regional context will enable mutual learning and development among communities in different countries, and foster cooperation and projects that transcend national boundaries in the ASEAN region.
To this end, SEACHA aspires to be
- a forum for robust discourse about heritage among ASEAN heritage professional practitioners, civil society and community organizations, and interested members of the general public, and to promote public awareness of the importance of heritage protection as a vital component of sustainable national and regional development;
- a think-tank and resource centre, supporting ASEAN’s policy and decision makers in heritage, through analysis, consultation, training, organizing seminars and conferences, and highlighting to governments and the general public key issues of heritage, acting as a responsible “third force”, indigenous to ASEAN but independent of official, trans-national, and commercial stakeholders, and serving as a bridge between the heritage interests and goals of people, business and government;
- a responsible, locally based advocateto propose “development of heritage management programs in ASEAN to place cultural heritage at the heart of the ASEAN community building efforts” and “creative solutions to protect heritage sites from damaging commercialization and urbanization”, to the ASEAN Ministers, as set forth in the Vientiane Declaration on Reinforcing Cultural Heritage Cooperation in ASEAN (2016).
- Monthly talk series “Cha-Time with SEACHA”
This is a program for sharing knowledge and experiences on common cultural heritage issues in Southeast Asian countries. SEACHA founding members will nominate a speaker from their countries to present a topic that is relavant to the theme. From one theme, audience will hear 10 stories from 10 countires in Asia. “Building Climate Resiliency through Local Community Wisdom” is the current theme. Recordings of “Cha-Time with SEACHA” is available at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqHA_NYxQtY7NY4sOXKRgwA
- “Cultural Heritage Management Clinic”
This is year-long advisory clinic on cultural heritage management for building competitive advantage through community-based place attachment and inclusive policy. It is targeted for communities embarking on development projects and seeks to provide project- specific advice to the government officials, NGOs, educators, community members and stakeholders on the design and implementation of a realistic plan with the dual objectives of heritage conservation and economic development.
Find more information about SEACHA at www.seacha.org