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In Singapore, whenever I hear a government minister talk about "development", I think “Oh, what are they going to destroy now?"
I understand the need for Singapore to modernise and be up to speed with the rest of the developed world in terms of infrastructure so that we can continue to attract foreign investment and talent. What I do not understand is why we have to lose huge chunks of our history and places much loved.
Take the case of the old Methodist Girls' School on Mount Sophia. I could not believe what I was reading in the papers when it said that the school had to move out and that the area was to be re-developed. So what if the lease had run out and that the land is slated for residential use?
With a stroke of the pen, the Minister-in-charge can make the necessary changes and save that Grand Ol Dame. Let the girls back into those hallowed hallways and if the residents in the area complain about the traffic and the noise, remind them that the school was there long before them.
Alexandra Hospital is another case. Thankfully, Minister Khaw Boon Wan has given it a stay of execution. Its date with the wrecking ball is now sometime in 2018. Hold on, I say.
I realise that the land must be worth a lot, considering its location, but did the authorities stop to consider its history and character and what we will be losing?
Remember, what is lost is gone forever. I know that every new construction project means millions of dollars poured into the economy.
However, in our pursuit of wealth and the good things in life, let's not lose our sense of history. We will truly be rich only when we can say, "No, we don't need the money. Leave that school and hospital alone."
Brian Arthur Sunil Vittachi, 55
Bertha Henson was a journalist with the Singapore Press Holdings stable of newspapers for 26 years until May 2012. Her last designation was Associate Editor of The Straits Times. She is now Journalist-in-residence at Tembusu College, University Town in the … Continue reading →