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AsiaOne
Jul 9, 2013

No plans to nominate Bukit Brown for World Heritage site

All attention is now focussed on the bid for the Singapore Botanical Gardens to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, said Mr Lawrence Wong. -AsiaOne

SINGAPORE - Government agencies are working to document and commemorate the memories of the Bukit Brown cemetery for future generations, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Mr Lawrence Wong, said in a written Parliamentary reply on Tuesday.

Mr Wong was responding to a query by Ms Janice Koh on whether the Bukit Brown cemetery would qualify as a UNESCO Heritage Site.

While Mr Wong acknowledged that "there is heritage value in the Bukit Brown municipal cemetery," he added that all efforts are now focussed on the bid for the Singapore Botanical Gardens to be listed.

Below is the parliamentary reply, in full:

Ms Janice Koh:

To ask the Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth (a) whether the Bukit Brown Municipal Cemetery meets the "Outstanding Universal Values" criteria to qualify as a UNESCO World Heritage site;(b) whether the Government will conduct a study to ascertain if the Bukit Brown cemetery meets these criteria; and (c) whether the Government will consider gazetting a portion of the Bukit Brown cemetery that is not designated for future residential development.

Mr Lawrence Wong:

We recognise that there is heritage value in the Bukit Brown municipal cemetery. This is why government agencies, including the National Heritage Board (NHB), have been working with experts and stakeholders on various efforts to document and commemorate the memories of Bukit Brown for future generations.

The NHB is also studying how the heritage of Bukit Brown can be preserved, taking into account future development plans for the area.

Not all sites with local heritage value will qualify as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The standards required by UNESCO are very stringent, especially to meet the criteria of “outstanding universal value”. This was why when the Ministry first explored the possibility of a UNESCO listing, it had engaged a technical expert to do a thorough and in-depth assessment to determine the site with the best chance of meeting the UNESCO criteria. As part of this process, we had done a consultation on possible sites that could be put up for the UNESCO bid.

At that time, none of our stakeholders had surfaced the Bukit Brown cemetery as a candidate for consideration. As I had mentioned previously in Parliament, having worked through an extensive process of identifying the Singapore Botanic Gardens as our first nomination for the UNESCO World Heritage Site, our efforts are now focussed on this bid.

This will also give us an opportunity to better understand UNESCO’s requirements and processes, before exploring other possibilities in the future. 

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