Physical spaces to create shared memories crucial

Straits Times Forum 1 Dec 11;

IN MONDAY'S letter ('Let's be practical on land use'), Mr Ang Chin Guan praised the Government for good urban planning, and said Bukit Brown Cemetery and Rochor Centre should make way for the infrastructural needs of future generations.

However, the interests of future generations may not solely have to do with economic development.

Granted, new roads will ease traffic congestion now, but 50 years on, there will be more vehicles utilising the roads, and our grandchildren will take the 'shorter travelling time' for granted. Is this the kind of legacy we should bequeath to them?

We do not know for certain what our future generations want, but with the current sense of confusion on what being a Singaporean means, we need to provide physical spaces to create shared memories for them.

If we base our demolition of landmarks solely on economic development, we would be failing to give them a proper sense of identity, since shared memories shape who they are.

Our future generations will have no first-hand memories of first-generation nation-builders, other than from the annual National Day Parade and their textbooks. We need to give them physical landmarks, to tell them that their industrious forefathers lived, worked and died in Singapore.

This kind of experience can be gained only if we conserve Bukit Brown Cemetery and avoid knocking down old urban landmarks unless they are near collapse.

The assumption that our future generations only want more cars and condos reflects on our short-sightedness. We must also tell them that being a Singaporean does not mean just aspiring to material needs.

Aloysius Foo

Let's be practical on land use
Straits Times Forum 28 Nov 11;

TWO road projects to ease traffic congestion have raised the hackles of conservationists because they involve using part of the Bukit Brown Cemetery ('New road to ease Lornie Road jams'; Sept 13) and the relocation of all residents living in an old urban landmark, Rochor Centre ('More than 500 homes to make way for highway'; Nov 16).

I am glad that long-term practicality has triumphed over other issues. While the governments of other countries are striving to fulfil their citizens' short- term needs, the Singapore Government is planning for 30 to 40 years ahead, keeping in mind the needs of our children and grandchildren, when many of our current leaders will no longer be around.

Conservation and filial piety are cited for arguing against clearing Bukit Brown Cemetery, which is largely for future housing needs and partly for road building. The very critics who push hard for government flexibility are themselves being inflexible.

If the Government is not prudent, there is no guarantee that our grandchildren will have proper housing.

Show filial piety to parents when they are around, and care for the future needs of our children and grandchildren.

Let us be practical - Bukit Brown should be developed and Rochor Centre should make way for the North-South Expressway.

Ang Chin Guan

New expressway: 'Consider the bigger picture.'

MR JEREMY TEO: "While I understand Ms Wendy Yuen's concerns ('Much to sacrifice for North-South Expressway'; Forum Online, Nov 19), we should consider the bigger picture. Singapore must constantly improve its infrastructure to attract more foreign investments, which will translate into more jobs. Preservation of buildings, especially those without much historical value, should not be the first priority when we are a land-scarce nation. Sacrifices have to be made for Singapore to become a First World country with a world-class transport system."