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SHS Press Release: Position Paper on Bukit Brown published!
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4 February 2012

The Singapore Heritage Society (SHS) has published its Position Paper on Bukit Brown.  Please read and forward the paper to all concerned parties.

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PRESS RELEASE
For immediate publication

Singapore, 4 February 2012: The Singapore Heritage Society has published a position paper on Bukit Brown Cemetery. Among other things, the paper puts forth three recommendations, namely, gazetting Bukit Brown as a heritage site for legal protection; full documentation of Bukit Brown; and turning it into a heritage park for Singaporeans to enjoy.

The publication of the position paper follows a similar one published by the Singapore Nature Society late last year, and comes before exhumations begin in April. The exhumations will mark a critical juncture in a debate that has seen the largest Chinese cemetery outside of China become the focal point for a wide-ranging discussion in Singapore. Questions have been raised about the loss of national identity, the need for biodiversity conservation, the elevated risk of flooding and the increasing need for the Government to better engage the public.

Key points from the Singapore Heritage Society position paper include:

– The reality of the Bukit Brown consultation process (Section 5B)
– The heritage value of Bukit Brown – and its importance to Singapore’s nation-building effort (Section 2)
– The elevated risk of flooding from development of Bukit Brown, as assessed by a hydrologist from the National University of Singapore (Annex 2)
– The question of whether the Bukit Brown case study demonstrates the kind of balance between prudent long-term planning and sensitive medium-term planning needed in an increasingly land-scarce Singapore (Section 3)
– Three alternative futures for Bukit Brown (Section 6)

The Singapore Heritage Society understands the need to provide public housing and relieve traffic congestion. However, it does not believe that enough effort has been invested in the search for a solution that would also allow Singaporeans to hold on to this valuable piece of our history. Ultimately, the Singapore Heritage Society believes that the decision we as a society make about the future of Bukit Brown will reflect the value we place on our roots, our collective identity and the sense of belonging we wish to inculcate in future generations of an increasingly globalised Singapore.

In his National Day Rally 2011 speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said:

“We are Singaporeans together on a small island.  We are anchored by our emotional links with family and friends and by our shared sense of our history and our common destiny.  We are not just here, materialised out of nowhere, appeared out of a Transformers movie maybe. We came here somewhere, sometime there was a history to it and it is crucial to remember where we came from, how we got here.”

The Singapore Heritage Society believes that a thorough public consultation process regarding the future of Bukit Brown Cemetery is valuable to the nation-building project outlined by PM Lee in his National Day Rally speech. Crucially, such a consultation should take as a starting point the fundamental question of whether a road through Bukit Brown Cemetery is needed in the first place.

It would demonstrate the Government’s sincerity in forging the shared sense of history and destiny the Prime Minister has correctly pointed out that all Singaporeans should treasure.

Please forward any queries or clarifications to Secretary, Singapore Heritage Society at shs.secretary@gmail.com

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