Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Bukit Brown: World Monuments Watch 2014

Another accolade for Bukit Brown was announced by All Things Bukit Brown, informing that Bukit Brown gained recognition as the first Singapore site to be added and named in World Monuments Fund (WMF) and in the watch list for 2014.

World Monuments Fund

WMF's mission is to preserve the world's architectural heritage of significant monuments, buildings, and sites. It does this by raising awareness about the importance of heritage preservation and about new threats facing heritage sites. Every project is an opportunity to raise awareness among the public, government agencies, community organizations, and potential donors about the importance of heritage preservation.

World Monuments Fund citation for Bukit Brown (see link)

Bukit Brown is at once a study in the social and cultural history of Singapore and a green oasis in the heart of a densely developed urban environment. As a cemetery for pioneering Chinese immigrants from all walks of life beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, Bukit Brown showcases Singapore's origins and connections to regions beyond. Physically manifesting the links between southern China and Southeast Asia are the Hokkien and Teochew tomb designs and their inclusion of local Peranakan as well as European features. Buried at Bukit Brown are prominent Southeast Asian supporters of China's 1911 Republican Revolution. As a World War II battleground and grave site for casualties, including victims of the Japanese occupation (1942–1945), Bukit Brown also serves as a reminder of Singapore's recent past. Descendents and others visit Bukit Brown regularly, not only to pay their respects, but to gain a unique insight into Singapore’s heritage and to experience its great natural beauty and diversity.

In 2013, the government initiated plans to bisect Bukit Brown with a major thoroughfare, and has proposed the redevelopment of significant areas of Bukit Brown for housing in the coming years. This is a significant loss to the families of those interred there, as many graves are being relocated (or unclaimed remains dispensed at sea) for the road construction; but in destroying the cultural landscape of Bukit Brown, it is a loss to all of society. Local groups and residents, as well as the international community, are calling for more transparency on the part of the government and for a participatory environmental impact assessment that would evaluate the full social, economic, and ecological costs of the development plans and the effects on this historic cultural landscape. Inclusion on the Watch seeks to bolster these efforts and promote a better future for Bukit Brown.

A total of 67 sites were highlighted in the watch list for 2014. Some of them include: Pokfulam Village (Hong Kong), Yangon Historic City Center (Myanmar), Ngada Villages of Flores (Indonesia) . See also its instagram pictures.

Bukit Brown in danger of destruction by a 8 lane highway

UNESCO Heritage Site potential 

Local cultural customs (Qing Ming)
Local cultural customs (Offerings to wondering spirits)
Majolica / Peranakan tiles on tombs reflecting cross -cultural adoption

Majolica / Peranakan tiles on tombs reflecting cross -cultural adoption

Majolica / Peranakan tiles on tombs reflecting cross -cultural adoption

Sikh Statutes reflecting cross-cultural adoption

Other website mentions on World Monuments Watch 2014

World Monuments Watch 2014 List Released. [website] Architect

Further reading on Bukit Brown as a potential UNESCO Heritage site
Parliamentary Question by Ms. Janice Koh (Bukit Brown), posted on July 9, 2013
Unesco Heritage site bid - Why not Bukit Brown too? posted on April 14, 2013
Bukit Brown Cemetery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, posted on April 2, 2013

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