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Singapore netizens discuss closure of heritage sites and concerns over their preservation

Netizens discuss the closure of heritage sites in Singapore and its impact on the country’s cultural identity amid ongoing redevelopment. Some emphasize the urgent need to document and preserve heritage, while others advocate for balanced development to retain Singapore’s identity for future generations.



SINGAPORE: The closure of heritage sites and old buildings in Singapore has sparked a lively discussion among netizens about the importance of preserving Singapore’s heritage amid ongoing redevelopment.

Many are concerned about the impact of redevelopment on the country’s cultural identity.

Recently, the closure of the Thambi Magazine Store in Holland Village rekindled this discussion.

A beloved establishment cherished by multiple generations, Thambi’s shut down after facing declining demand and insurmountable challenges.

The news of its closure prompted a wave of reactions on social media, with Singaporeans filming, photographing, and lamenting the loss of yet another piece of the nation’s identity.

In a typical reaction, many rushed to make last-minute purchases, driven by a sense of “last chance” urgency.

Terence Heng, a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Liverpool, weighed in on this issue in a commentary on Channel News Asia.

He argues that these last-minute efforts to preserve memories reflect the deep importance of heritage to the people.

Despite appearing superficial, such actions signify how much the past and heritage mean to society.

However, there is another perspective that views the loss of establishments like Thambi Magazine Store and the old Raffles Junior College campus at Mt. Sinai as inevitable, and in some ways, necessary.

This viewpoint suggests that clinging to the past can hinder progress, particularly economic development.

It sees nostalgia as a hindrance rather than a benefit, especially for places that no longer serve a financial purpose.

Preserving Singapore’s heritage: balancing past and present

Singapore has seen efforts to preserve heritage, such as parts of the Old Police Academy along Thomson Road.

At Bras Basah Complex, Toast Box retained elements of the Music Book Room it replaced, showing how new ventures can emerge from old foundations.

Integrating the past with the present offers more opportunities for societal expression.

Geographers differentiate between ‘space’—the physical environment—and ‘place,’ which is space made meaningful.

The demolition of the old Raffles Junior College campus drew alumni not just for the building but for the memories associated with it.

Intangible memories need tangible places to remain vivid.

Preserving everyday life sites, not just significant landmarks, is crucial to maintaining our heritage.

When preservation is not feasible, communities can creatively reimagine old places.

A recent social experiment transformed the abandoned Peace Centre mall into an arts haven, showcasing grassroots, people-centered initiatives.

Ultimately, while change is inevitable, we can support and cherish beloved places by being regular customers and appreciating our surroundings.

Documenting our experiences can also help preserve memories for the future.

Netizen stresses urgency to document Singapore’s heritage

A Facebook post on CNA has sparked a lively discussion among netizens about the importance of preserving Singapore’s heritage amid ongoing redevelopment.

One commenter praised the article, emphasizing the crucial role of documenting and remembering Singapore’s past and present heritage, especially given the country’s limited land space and global uncertainties such as economic shifts and climate change.

They suggested that preserving heritage should involve not only photographs but also videos capturing the unique sounds of these locations.

They highlighted the importance of documenting natural heritage sites like Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Labrador Park, stressing the urgency due to rapid environmental changes like global warming and rising sea levels.

Netizens highlight the value of historic architecture

Comparing Singapore to European cities, another netizen noted that one reason European cities attract so many tourists is their old architecture, which tells stories from the past while witnessing the present.

This commenter argued that these historic buildings help retain tradition and culture.

Echoing this sentiment, another netizen expressed admiration for the charm of old and historic buildings.

They cited examples from Taiwan, where restored old places have been repurposed by young entrepreneurs for creative businesses.

They lamented the loss of such opportunities in Singapore due to redevelopment.

Critics call for balanced development to preserve Singapore’s heritage for future generations

A different commenter criticized the current approach to town planning in Singapore, describing it as drastic and massive.

They argued that this approach makes Singapore feel artificial and strips away heritage that could be appreciated by future generations.

They compared it to excessive cosmetic surgery, resulting in a loss of identity.

This netizen called for a more measured approach, suggesting that Singapore should preserve some heritage for future generations to cherish.

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Common, it’s just a shop. The original Thambi shop I think was on the opposite side of the road to their recently closed shop.

That history and those heritage sites are not important. There’s nothing about them that reminds you of the “Great LEEder.” Why do you think every kampong in Singapore was systematically destroyed in the 1980s? Including the ones on our many small islands. There are a few places that used to house kampongs that were simply left unattended and allowed to overgrow. So why did those places need to be demolished? Because it reminded people of Singapore before the “Great LEEder.” How can you be “grateful” to the dear “LEEder” if you’re living in a kampong that your parents or grandparents… Read more »

The policy of the PAP is to increase the population and build to maximum building ratio. So there is no interest to preserve our roots or culture. By removing our history, they are replacing it with massive concrete. Chinatown, Little India and Arab Street still retain some of the old charm but for how long? Compare our city with Phuket or Bali where their heritage has been preserved, our city has lost its soul to concrete. Everything about the PAP is instant.There is no long term planning, taking into consideration the heritage of the population, the contour of the land… Read more »

Wanna wipe out everything and replace them with Papillon history!
After all, what memories do new immigrants need for their utopia?
A new beginning that starts with their benefactor and their pioneer generation memorial!

Refresh? Rebuild? Replace!!!