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ST Forum

Jun 13, 2011

It's about what we hold dear

THE current debate over the fate of Bukit Brown cemetery reminds me of an earlier one over the old National Library building.

Many impassioned pleas were made to preserve the building, but the Government insisted it was necessary to replace it with an underground road tunnel that seems, to me at least, to be under-utilised.

Ultimately, it is not just a matter of what we need but also what we want and what we hold dear. In Rome and many other Italian cities, the streets are extremely narrow because the people hold dear their millennia-old buildings. They could well have argued for a need to demolish these buildings to improve traffic flow, but they chose instead to live with the inconvenience.

More than a need to clear Bukit Brown for housing, we need to evaluate our needs and priorities as well as the possible options. For a start, we need to reconsider if we really need or want a projected population of 6.5 million people.

And if housing needs are that pressing, will Bukit Brown be converted into a Housing Board estate for the masses? Or will it, being in the prime district, be set aside for a small number of first-class bungalows for the rich?

Are there really no other options when, all over Singapore, there are pockets of old and under-utilised buildings?

Richard Seah

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