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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

World Heritage in Singapore?

 

Singapore is now a member of UNESCO and our dear neighbour to the north now has new WHS.  Is this something we should explore?  WHS has become the de facto ISO 9002 for historical attractions.  Having WHS could potentially help our tourism industry (although some may argue that there are way too many WHS worldwide which are of mediocre value).

 

More importantly, it would help boost our sense of national pride as well as help local conservation causes  Perhaps, this might even encourage more Singaporeans to feel good about our country in an era where most buildings are being torn down after two decades and everyone wonders if there is anything one could feel nostalgic over in Singapore.

 

Personally, I thought that parts of Civic District, Katong, Chinatown, Little India and Arab Street might be worthy of a WHS listing, as perhaps "Historic Centre and Multi-ethnic Cultural Landscape of the Port City of Singapore".   (Would this sound as exotic as "Historic cities of the Straits of Malacca"? See http://whc.unesco.org/en/list to see the many exotic list-names of WHS.)  The deliberate colonial era planning of ethnic quarters, the synthesis of different ethnic styles that became the Katong Peranakan style, etc.

 

I know nothing about architecture.  But I suspect that perhaps many of our historic buildings and vernacular architecture that could qualify as having "outstanding universal value" (as stated in UNESCO terminology) might have been modified (for commercial use) to such an extent that would breach UNESCO guidelines for qualifying sites.  

 

What are your views? 

 

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