Protecting heritage of name not about elitism

I am an alumnus of St Andrew's School and was astonished to read about the inference of elitism in the renaming of a commercial project ("Spread of name part of urban development" by Ms Estella Young; last Saturday, and "Condo, mall renamed after outcry by school alumni"; last Thursday).

While the "Andrew" name is not copyrighted by St Andrew's School or the Diocese of Singapore, and there is no trademark registered, the issue was a clear case of a commercial entity attempting to exploit the heritage and goodwill of another education/community service organisation, to which it had no affiliation, for its own commercial gains.

This is crass commercialisation - an unethical act which should not be condoned.

Elitism is an arrogant attitude where some individuals use their greater influence and authority to manipulate an issue for their own benefit. Elitism was nowhere to be found in this matter.

The majority of the 1,090 people who signed the petition did it out of love for their alma mater, with the intention of protecting the heritage of the school and the Anglican Church, and to correct an unethical act of the other party.

Other members of the public who are not associated with the school also signed the petition, simply to express their support to stop any form of crass commercialisation.

The alumni had nothing to gain, but something to lose.

By its desire to be "socially responsible", the developer decided to rename its project.

While imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, I would quote William Shakespeare: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet", and commend the developer for its gracious and right decision.

Barnabas Lee Meng Hui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2015, with the headline 'Protecting heritage of name not about elitism'. Print Edition | Subscribe