Singapore – who is it really for?

Image from Wikipedia (Off NLB)

Do you remember much about the Old National Library?

I remember how I would wander into the Old National Library on weekends, stayed at the Reference area for an entire day and go through old microfilms of old newspapers. Just because.

I would then make my way to the nearby S-11 coffeeshop with its uneven bricked floor for wontan noodles, trying to balance my books while I try to eat and read at the same time. On a good day, I would treat myself to a hot chocolate and muffin from the library cafe.

In 2004, when the library was slated for demolition for road developments, I was utterly heartbroken. Nothing could be done to save the old national library except for the sales of the old bricks that used to form part of the architecture of the library.

Fast forward to 2011, there’s another round of redevelopment. This time, to widen the roads around Lornie Road to ease the constant traffic congestion. Sadly, many historical tombstones would be exhumed and removed due to this redevelopment. Is it worth it to destroy decades of history just to ease traffic congestion?

image

I began a love affair with old towns in Malaysia because I no longer have that in Singapore. Photo taken in Penang, Malaysia.

Singapore’s always trying to be better, faster and more efficient. Sadly, it is at the expense of our heritage and history.

Despite the vehement public outcry and petitions, one of the Ministers said something along the lines of (and I am paraphrasing here)…”Do you want your grandchildren to have a better life or retain the old bones of the departed?”.

Hello Mr Minister, we are talking about roads here. Congestion on the roads does not bother me because I don’t drive since Singapore is well-connection via public transportation. It does not value add to my life.

So, my dear Government, before more buildings are destroyed and history erased, please consider what sort of future you would want our future generations to own. A space where there is nothing to remind them of the past OR a space where shiny skyscrapers and widen roads lead to nowhere but a void?

Generations repeat themselves. And we always need a reminder of where our past is from.

Sadly, none of the Ministers of Parliament feel and think the same.

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