AskST talk examines efforts to preserve Singapore's heritage

Ms Zaccheus highlighted several heritage sites that have been somewhat neglected or forgotten, including Tanjong Malang, Adam Park and Haw Par Villa.
Ms Zaccheus highlighted several heritage sites that have been somewhat neglected or forgotten, including Tanjong Malang, Adam Park and Haw Par Villa.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

While the Government has been ramping up efforts to take care of Singapore's heritage, there is still much to be done.

Ms Melody Zaccheus, 28, a Straits Times (ST) correspondent who writes about heritage issues, made this point last night at a talk at the library@orchard, which was attended by about 120 history lovers.

During the talk, organised by ST in collaboration with the National Library Board, Ms Zaccheus noted government initiatives such as a survey by the National Heritage Board to map out all tangible heritage here - a major step towards a more long- term plan for heritage planning.

But she also highlighted several heritage sites that have been somewhat neglected or forgotten. They include Tanjong Malang, Adam Park and Haw Par Villa.

One barrier preventing such areas from getting adequate protection has to do with mindsets, which have to be changed.

"Since independence, Singapore has pursued rapid development in an era that was defined by the need to survive. It was about growing the economy and building infrastructure rapidly, with swathes of built and natural heritage sacrificed," she said.

"Government agencies must realise that heritage - both built and natural - are a public good, as it gives a country its character."

She also noted the need to introduce stronger policies and tools such as heritage impact assessment to protect key sites.

The talk was the fifth in a 12-part series under the AskST initiative, where members of the public are invited to engage with the paper's experienced journalists on topics from finance and health to education. Many in the audience said they enjoyed Ms Zaccheus' articles on Singapore's heritage sites, and found the talk informative.

National University of Singapore student Gregory Tan, 21, who attended the talk to gain knowledge for a history assignment, said heritage and its conservation is of great importance. "Heritage is what defines us. Our identity is very important, especially in a globalised nation," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2016, with the headline 'AskST talk examines efforts to preserve Singapore's heritage'. Print Edition | Subscribe