Heritage consultant Journeys mistakenly alluded to the Peranakans as "non-Chinese" when it cited how some were welcomed as part of the culturally dynamic and eclectic Chinese-Burmese Aw family, to support some of the changes it is making to Haw Par Villa (Chinese culture remains focus of Haw Par Villa; Nov 6).
The vast majority of Peranakans can trace their ancestral roots to China. What sets them apart is their unique "hybrid" cultural norms and practices, which are from a variety of sources but nevertheless still predicated on a Chinese core.
Hopefully, this philosophy will guide Journeys' attempts to spice up Haw Par Villa, as it did for the Aw brothers when they set out to create a unique home and shrine to Chinese culture.
Running the Chinatown Heritage Centre is a different kettle of fish. There is also no reason to believe that a gallery dedicated to the rise of Asian "triumphalism" will work any better than the aborted one which had focused on the Chinese diaspora's achievements.
Haw Par Villa needs a major uplift that is sensitive to the vision of its creators, first and foremost, to fulfil its potential as a hospitality, lifestyle and cultural/heritage magnet.
And by this, I do not mean mock tombs showcasing death rituals from various religions, or other irrelevant pop-up events. The former would, perhaps, be more appropriate at the Bukit Brown cemetery heritage site.
Haw Par Villa's target audience must also be expanded way beyond young Western-oriented Singaporeans if it is going to make money and be self-sustaining.
Fun and family-friendly activities cannot revolve largely around "edu-taining" if Singapore is to loosen up into a more well-rounded nation, and shed its image as boring.
Toh Cheng Seong