Fort Siloso to be gazetted as Singapore's 74th national monument

Singapore- 06 Sep, 2019: Main entrance of Fort Siloso. It is located on Sentosa Island, was built in the 1880s on Mount Siloso to aid in protecting the port
Main entrance of Fort Siloso. It is located on Sentosa Island, was built in the 1880s on Mount Siloso to aid in protecting the port. (PHOTO: Getty Images) (tang90246 via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The 19th century British fort whose big guns proved futile in defending Singapore from the Japanese invasion during World War II is set to be gazetted as the city-state's latest national monument.

The National Heritage Board (NHB) made the announcement on Tuesday (18 January), noting that Fort Siloso, located on the southern island of Sentosa, serves as an important site to mark the war years in Singapore, according to national broadsheet The Straits Times.

It will be the first site gazetted as a national monument since October 2019, when the Cavenagh, Anderson and Elgin bridges, which span over the Singapore River, were accorded the status.

National monuments are given legal protection from alterations that would affect their character and significance. Apart from Fort Siloso, 73 other national monuments include the St Andrew's Cathedral, Raffles Hotel and the former Supreme Court.

Built in 19th century

Now a historical attraction, Fort Siloso was one of many coastal fortifications built around the 19th century by the British and remains the most intact fortification in Singapore, according to the NHB's website.

Designed to protect Singapore from a seaward attack, its weaponry proved to be redundant as Japanese forces swept down from the north of the island in February 1942.

However, its guns fired at Japanese troops in the west of Singapore during World War II and destroyed the oil refineries at nearby Pulau Bukom and Pulau Sebarok to prevent the Japanese from using them as a resource.

Between 1963 and 1966, the 10th Gurkha Rifles Unit manned the fort during the Konfrontasi to prevent Indonesian saboteurs from landing on Sentosa and Keppel Harbour.

In August 2019, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced that the Singapore River bridges and the Padang would be gazetted to commemorate the city-state’s bicentennial that year.

The Preservation of Monuments Act was amended in November 2021 to pave the way for sites such as the Padang to be gazetted.

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