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Truly kiasu…now they want to have world heritage sites

Seriously, Senile Minister Lew Kuan Yew can be nominated as a world heritage property for single handedly bring up Singapore to a first world status in 30 years.

Old Kereta Ayer Chinatown was qualified for world heritage site IF PAP government was not short-sighted in pursuing city modernization.

A World Heritage Site in S’pore?

SINGAPORE : Cambodia has Angkor Wat, Malaysia boasts the town of Malacca as one and the Great Wall of China is one of the best well known – so why can’t Singapore have a world heritage site too?

According to a tender that closes on Thursday, the Government is on the search for possible United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage Sites. It is looking to engage a contractor to undertake “a comprehensive study to assess the feasibility of selected heritage sites … as possible World Heritage Sites and to recommend a suitable tentative list”.

There are 890 sites around the world, but Singapore has none. Neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia have three, five and seven sites, respectively.

Ministry of Communication, Information and the Arts (Mica) deputy secretary Sim Gim Guan said the study is aimed at exploring whether Singapore has potential sites and if there were benefits of nominating one for listing. If feasible, this would help develop a process for nomination, evaluation and selection of suitable cultural landmarks and districts of historical significance for a listing.

“The entire nomination process is rigorous, and we envisage the entire process, should we proceed, will take three to five years, based on the experience of some countries that have succeeded in World Heritage Site listing,” said Mr Sim.

The move has been lauded by observers and conservation advocates who in turn, have suggested the Singapore Botanic Gardens – founded in 1859 – as the sole candidate that would meet Unesco’s criteria.

The Botanic Gardens has strong connections with the history of global colonial economy in the past, given its links to Britain’s Kew Gardens, said Associate Professor Johannes Widodo, a jury member of the Unesco Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation. “In addition, the Gardens have very important ecological value at present and in the future, not just for Singapore but also globally.”

Singapore Heritage Society president Kevin Tan said that if the Gardens succeeded in being listed, perceptions of Singapore “being a very young city with no history and large green spaces, a bit of a concrete jungle,” will change. Listing it “will showcase a very significant jewel in our midst”.

But observers warned that the benefits of having a site need to be balanced against potential pitfalls, such as a surge in mass tourism, over-commercialisation, and erosion of dignity. Mr Tan Wee Cheng, who has visited 247 sites worldwide, launched a Facebook group to canvass support and raise awareness. Such pitfalls can be avoided with careful planning, and it is important “not to be overly ambitious,” he said.

For the study, Mica requires that the contractor identify potential threats and evaluate the implications of future re-development plans within and in proximity to the heritage sites.

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