Beware of cultural Alzheimer's

ST Forum

Jun 15, 2011

Beware of cultural Alzheimer's

I DISAGREE with Mr Paul Chan ("Bukit Brown: Progress comes first"; Monday) that cemeteries should be redeveloped to meet housing needs.

While this issue may be personal to me as it involves my great-grandfather's (C.K. Lim) final resting place, it is my strong belief that the decision to exhume Bukit Brown cemetery for future development projects will bring only short-term economic benefits.

In the long run, it will deprive future generations of their historical, cultural and familial heritage. Without history, we will be ignorant citizens as we will have nothing to benchmark our progress upon.

Despite the potential economic benefits from redeveloping Bukit Brown cemetery, this move will remove another aspect of our collective memory, which is what makes Singapore feel like "home" for Singaporeans.

The rapid rate of change in the country, reflected by the exhumation of other cemeteries and demolition of historical buildings such as the National Library, has caused many Singaporeans to feel that they lack "roots" because the ground on which these historical roots try to grow has been turned over due to constant urban renewal.

Without these historical places, Singaporeans will suffer from cultural Alzheimer's because we will not know who we are and how to relate to other people.

Sharon Lim (Miss)