Making way for the Future

ST Forum
Dec 1, 2011

Making way for the Future
Physical spaces to create shared memories crucial

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