On 19 April 2022, HE Marc Abensour, Ambassador of France to Singapore, conferred the title of “Officier des Arts et des Lettres” (Officer of Arts and Letters) to Mrs Pamelia Lee, former Senior Director, Singapore Tourism Board. The award, one of the most honorific of the French Republic, rewards those who have contributed to the promotion of arts and cultural heritage in France and other part of the world. It was conferred to Mrs Lee for the strong cooperation she initiated between France and Singapore in heritage conservation.
The France-Singapore cooperation in heritage conservation started in 1987, when Mrs Pamelia Lee reached out to Mr Didier Repellin, Chief Architect in Historical Monuments, in order to initiate a heritage conservation project for a shophouse located at 53 Armenian Street. The project was aimed at serving as one of the examples for preserving shophouses in Singapore and other iconic buildings such as Empress Place and Chijmes. Under Mrs Lee’s lead, this project became a game changer in urban planning and paved the way to a different future for Singapore’s history.
More than 30 years later, iconic neighbourhoods such as Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Glam, and more, attract visitors from all over the world and provide an unique experience for pedestrians in the heart of a busy city. If Singapore is considered today as one of the most attractive touristic destinations in Asia, it is also because of its heritage. This endeavour, which sometimes requires real battles, is recounted in the book that Mrs Lee published in 2014 entitled “Singapore, Tourism & Me”.
The collaboration between heritage experts from Singapore and France initiated by Mrs Lee in the 1980’s is a perfect illustration of the strategic partnership between France and Singapore. It inspired the second cultural agreement which was signed in November 2019 between the two Ministers of Culture. The new agreement focuses on co-creations, co-curations and co-productions between institutions, artists and practitioners from France and Singapore, while keeping heritage conservation as a strong area of focus for continued collaboration.