Botanic Gardens assessment expected 'in a few days'

SINGAPORE - The country should know how it fared in a technical assessment of its case to inscribe the Botanic Gardens as a Unesco World Heritage Site "in a few days time", Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said on Friday.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) will publish the results of this on its website and make recommendations to Unesco's World Heritage Committee.

This will be a factor in the Committee's final decision which will be announced at its 39th session in Bonn, Germany in late June or early July.

Mr Wong said he is "hopeful" and "excited" about receiving the result of Icomos' recommendation, adding that he was expecting it "maybe by the end of this month or early May".

He was speaking at the Mandarin Orchard Hotel after the Taoist Yueh Hai Ching temple on Phillip Street was presented its Unesco Cultural Heritage Conservation Award of Merit for its $7.5 million five-year makeover.

There are four possible recommendations Icomos could give to the Gardens.

If the site gets recommended for inscription without reservation, it stands a good chance of inscription by the World Heritage Committee. If it is given a referral of nomination, it means that a state party may have to provide more information.

If the Icomos team decides to recommend a deferral, it indicates that a more in-depth assessment or a substantial revision might have to be carried out.

The worst result would be a recommendation not to inscribe.

Last September, a technical assessor from Icomos spent three days in Singapore to evaluate the 156-year-old gardens.

It followed Singapore's submission of a nomination dossier substantiating the country's bid for Unesco status in February last year.

The Gardens meet the World Heritage Site listing criteria for exhibiting an exchange of human values on developments in landscape design and for being an outstanding example of landscape which illustrates a "significant stage in human history".

For instance, pioneering work on rubber cultivation was carried out there, which became a major crop that brought prosperity to South-east Asia in the early 20th Century.