Forum: Orchard Road needs injection of life

A crowd at Orchard Road, on Dec 22, 2019.
A crowd at Orchard Road, on Dec 22, 2019.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Having travelled to Bangkok, Melaka, Hong Kong and Sydney, I wonder why Singapore, especially Orchard Road, has become a cultural desert. Perhaps it is pertinent to ask: What is lacking in a vibrant city like Singapore?

In Bangkok, if you walk the streets at night, you will not fail to see school boys busking in the busy streets to earn some money to finance their formal and music education.

In Melaka, Jonker Street comes alive every weekend, and hordes of tourists can be seen there. There is a permanent stage for karaoke singers, and people can pay a fee to sing on it. Elderly singers seem to cherish performing in public and receiving applause from onlookers.

In Hong Kong, take a train to Tuen Mun on a weekend and some female singers can be seen belting out their favourite songs in Mandarin and Cantonese. Elderly men dance to the music, and onlookers do not hesitate to reward the singers with hongbao.

In Sydney, I was impressed to see schoolboys and undergraduates busking in the streets during Christmas, with onlookers throwing coins into their donation boxes.

The street magicians and performers come from all over the world. One Scotsman juggled two swords and an axe. A Canadian performer rode on a unicycle while juggling three swords. You will see big crowds at Pitt Street and Circular Quay on weekends.

Why is our Orchard Road so cut and dried? We should inject some life into the area, and attract tourists from near and far.

Heng Cho Choon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2020, with the headline 'Orchard Road needs injection of life'. Print Edition | Subscribe