Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Parliamentary Question by Ms. Janice Koh (Bukit Brown)

It has come to my attention that Nominated Member of Parliament, Ms Janice Koh has tabled in Twelfth Parliament Sitting (First Session), Order Paper at the House today, 9 Jul 13, 1.30 pm , under Questions for Oral Answers.

Question No 40 : Ms Janice Koh: To ask the Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth
(a) whether the Bukit Brown Municipal Cemetery meets the "Outstanding Universal Values" criteria to qualify as a UNESCO World Heritage site;
(b) whether the Government will conduct a study to ascertain if the Bukit Brown cemetery meets these criteria; and
(c) whether the Government will consider gazetting a portion of the Bukit Brown cemetery that is not designated for future residential development.

*Members may postpone their Questions to a later sitting day if their Questions are not reached by the end of Question Time. The postponement forms are available at the Chamber entrances and Members’ Room. To ensure timely notice of such postponements, Members should submit their notices to the Clerk by the end of Question Time. Questions will be given a written answer if no such notices are received by the Clerk.

Facebook post by NMP Janice Koh 
Screencap of article from NMP Ms Janice Koh

A friend alerted me that on NMP Ms. Janice Koh facebook page today, she shared and made referenced to my article on Bukit Brown Cemetery,a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I am very touched that this article has made some impact on influential community leaderse like NMP Ms Janice Koh and I would like to thank her for sharing my article to help create more awareness for the preservation of Bukit Brown and for also tabling the possibility of Bukit Brown as a potential UNESCO World Heritage Site at parliament.

On a final word, my article would not have been possible as i myself was inspired to write it after reading Raymond Goh's inspirational article: The forgotten heritage at our own backyard.

Response to NMP Ms Janice Koh by Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth

We recognise that there is heritage value in the Bukit Brown municipal cemetery. This is why government agencies, including the National Heritage Board (NHB), have been working with experts and stakeholders on various efforts to document and commemorate the memories of Bukit Brown for future generations.

The NHB is also studying how the heritage of Bukit Brown can be preserved, taking into account future development plans for the area.Not all sites with local heritage value will qualify as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The standards required by UNESCO are very stringent, especially to meet the criteria of “outstanding universal value”. This was why when the Ministry first explored the possibility of a UNESCO listing, it had engaged a technical expert to do a thorough and in-depth assessment to determine the site with the best chance of meeting the UNESCO criteria. As part of this process, we had done a consultation on possible sites that could be put up for the UNESCO bid.

At that time, none of our stakeholders had surfaced the Bukit Brown cemetery as a candidate for consideration. As I had mentioned previously in Parliament, having worked through an extensive process of identifying the Singapore Botanic Gardens as our first nomination for the UNESCO World Heritage Site, our efforts are now focused on this bid.

This will also give us an opportunity to better understand UNESCO’s requirements and processes, before exploring other possibilities in the future.

Source: http://www.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Singapore/Story/A1Story20130709-435996.html

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