SINGAPORE: The Republic’s successful bid to have the Singapore Botanic Gardens recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site earlier this month has sparked discussion, and hope, that more sites reflecting the nation’s heritage may gain recognition and protection.
Top on the wishlist of heritage experts and the public are Pulau Ubin, Bukit Brown and Jalan Kubor cemeteries, Jurong industrial estate, and even the types of public housing built over the years.
As the largest Chinese cemetery outside China with about 100,000 graves, Bukit Brown is a historical site comparable to others around the world, said Singapore Heritage Society vice-president Terence Chong. “More importantly, Bukit Brown is a showcase of the complexity of overseas Chinese culture with Fujian influence lying beside Peranakan aesthetics,” he added.
The society’s president, Dr Chua Ai Lin, said the cemetery was placed on last year’s World Monuments Watch, a global list of endangered cultural heritage sites. This is testimony to the fact that it has considerable heritage value, she said. Jalan Kubor, Singapore’s oldest Muslim cemetery and home to about 15,000 graves, is equally rich in heritage, she added.
The decision to build a road through Bukit Brown in 2012 resulted in consternation among conservation groups, which lamented the ensuing loss of heritage and biodiversity. Meanwhile, calls have been made to preserve Jalan Kubor by making it part of the Kampong Glam conservation district.
PROTECTING SINGAPORE’S HERITAGE
Last week, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the Botanic Gardens was “just the very first…