Forum: Do we need more shopping malls and apartments?

Shoppers at The Centrepoint shopping mall.
Shoppers at The Centrepoint shopping mall.PHOTO: ST FILE

I am flummoxed by the news of the upcoming mixed-use development One Holland Village in Holland Drive (One Holland Village homes to open for sale on Saturday, Nov 28). Do we need another shopping centre when so many existing shopping malls have morphed into ghost malls?

Take the pride of yesteryears - Centrepoint and Far East Plaza, to name two. Tenants are quitting, footfall is quickly vanishing and shops have transformed into art galleries to save the owner the embarrassment of vacant shops.

Shoppers swiftly migrate from old shopping centres like Raffles City to new boys like Funan mall, only for the new malls to be emptied after the initial euphoria.

And I was surprised to see the new PLQ Mall appear near Paya Lebar MRT station, where two big malls already exist.

Shopping malls are fighting a losing battle with the rise of online shopping, which offers a wider, more attractive and cheaper range of goods.

Do we need another block of apartments? The National Development Ministry in June said there were 24,000 vacant apartments, with another 44,000 units in the pipeline (Supply of private homes reined in amid fears of glut, June7).

Why does One Holland Village need 500 carpark spaces on basement levels when an MRT station is on its doorstep? Doesn't it run counter to the Government's car-lite initiative?

Slowly but surely, swathes of open green land and rustic charms are vanishing. The National Library Board surrendered its red-brick building to an underused road tunnel. The National Parks Board sacrificed the Kampong Java Park to the future North-South Corridor tunnel. My greatest fear is that the former Singapore Turf Club will suffer the same fate.

Singaporeans have been urged to be patriotic. Patriotism is also anchored to memories of buildings and places that people grew up with.

Instead of yet another shopping centre and apartment project, the land could have been used to build an integrated complex of Housing Board flats, a childcare centre, a polyclinic, an eldercare facility, a library, indoor sports facilities, a hawker centre and a park.

There are so many applicants queueing for HDB flats. Wouldn't it make sense to build more flats for young couples in Holland Village? The present hawker centre and wet market there are also inadequate.

I wish the Urban Redevelopment Authority and other relevant agencies would inject more soulful empathy into the planning of Singapore instead of basing decisions on hard figures.

Michael Lum

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 02, 2019, with the headline 'Do we need more shopping malls and apartments?'. Print Edition | Subscribe