Breathe new life into Haw Par Villa

Visitors at Haw Par Villa.
Visitors at Haw Par Villa. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Last Thursday's commentary on Haw Par Villa is timely ("Why it is urgent to protect Haw Par Villa").

If we do not do something, we will surely lose it, the way we have lost the National Library in Stamford Road and the National Theatre in Fort Canning.

Such national landmarks are important. While their replacements are modern, they lack the zeitgeist of a certain period of time.

This is why we visit, touch and feel monuments of old. It is a journey that can only be bestowed by what was, is and is still here.

Thankfully, Haw Par Villa is still here.

I visited the place when I was a child, and not just once.

Yes, I was frightened like other children and swore, like so many of my classmates then, never to lie, lest my tongue got pulled out, and never to cheat if I did not want to be thrown into a cauldron of fire.

Actions and consequences were what we took away as moral lessons from Haw Par Villa.

But the place was not just about macabre retribution.

The miniature buildings in the Little People World section inspired me to think big, and have dreams and aspirations.

I came away wanting to be an architect and to build things that stand the test of time.

Haw Par Villa has not just great historical value, but also much potential as a working tourist attraction.

Much can be done to make the place more exciting, including the use of technology, animation, mood lights and audio guides.

Haw Par Villa may be a place about the dead but a lot can be done to make it come alive.

We have a Night Safari that is very popular. Why not a Haw Par Villa with a "Night Hellafari" experience - a moment's scare for a lifetime of reflection?

And it might just be the kind of Halloween we need that is not westernised, but one that matches our Asian values.

Lai Tuck Chong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2015, with the headline 'Breathe new life into Haw Par Villa'. Print Edition | Subscribe