Sunday, June 22, 2014

What future for our past ? Revealing the sacred places voted by Singaporean's

On June 3, Straits Times ran a poll asking for people to vote for the top 3 structures and sites they think are worthy of preservation and gives people a sense of identity and belonging plus provides a good representation of the Singapore story (see my article on this).  The results of the poll is finally today out and the top buildings and sites voted by Singaporean residents as "sacred" are:


  1. HDB's first public housing developments in Queenstown 
  2. Early housing developments in Redhill Close and Dakota Crescent
  3. Changi Airport Control Tower
  4. Pearl Bank Apartments
  5. Golden Mile Complex

  1. Pulau Ubin
  2. Singapore Botanic Gardens
  3. What's left of Bukit Brown
  4. The Padang
  5. Wessex Estate off Porstdown Road (black and white colonial houses)
I am happy that the vast number of respondents have Bukit Brown and Pulau Ubin in their heartstrings as places they hold dear too and possibly worthy of preservation. The efforts put in by the community of volunteers who called themselves Brownies, got together to help create awareness of Bukit Brown as a heritage park by conducting tours, documenting graves, connecting with descendants, exhibitions and social media did help to increase awareness that an important site rich in stories of the Chinese diaspora as well and the story of our early pioneers and thus our Singapore story is threaten by the 8 lane highway that will destroy 16% of Bukit Brown. The area closer to Mount Pleasant and the Thomson Old Police Academy will in the immediate future make way for residential development as well.

Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew Public Policy called for a list of sacred spaces and places to foster a love for Singapore, to help it fully become a true city. He went to highlight that Singapore already has the aspects of "busyness" and being "safe", but was lacking in "sacred" in which American Urban Geographer, Joel Kotkin define as any unique institution or spot that makes one feel an irrational commitment to a place. I must say, the academics have a nice way of defining and rationalising societal behavior and i hope with time, more people will find Bukit Brown and Ubin to be sacred places that society will think it is rational and right to commit on its preservation for the nation's identity and story.
Ubin is waiting for you
This report ironically came out on a day that i was visiting Ubin Island with friends. On a scorching Saturday morning i am hearten to see many local and foreign visitors making their way to this "sacred" place and having a good time. I do hope Ubin's rustic environment will be conserved for generations to come just like the continuous efforts to win over the hearts of many people who visit Bukit Brown and to change the mindset of our government leaders towards sacred places like Bukit Brown and Ubin.

This part of Bukit Brown area is all cleared and no longer exist
Save our sacred place from becoming a Memory

Melody Zaccheus. (2014, June 21). What future for our past? Saturday Insights, The Straits Times

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