Sunday, September 18, 2011

Is a win-win solution possible for Bukit Brown?

The magnificent tomb of Ong Sam Leong and his wife. This was uncovered in 2006.
Recently (on 12 Sep 2011), on The Straits Times, there was a report that a new dual four-lane road will be built from early 2013 to alleviate congestion along Lornie Road and Pan-Island Expressway during peak hours. This new road will cut through parts of Bukit Brown.

Many lovers of heritage as well as nature-lovers have expressed concerns regarding the building of the road that is proposed to cut through parts of Bukit Brown. There were also people who wonder if the new road may indeed be the long-term solution to the identified problem, i.e. traffic congestion.

Where on earth is Bukit Brown?

Here is a map that I have taken from wildsingapore news. Bukit Brown is bordered by Lornie Road and the Pan Island Expressway. It was named after George Henry Brown.

Bukit Brown is actually an area made up of several hills. I learnt from one of Raymond Goh's posts on Bukit Brown Cemetery that the tallest hill in Bukit Brown is Tai Yuan Hill. The magnificent tomb of Ong Sam Leong and his wife that you see on this post rests on Tai Yuan Hill in Bukit Brown.

From the look of the map, it appears that Tai Yuan Hill may be affected by the recent proposal of building dual four-land road across Bukit Brown. Many pioneers of Singapore and notable people have their final resting places at Bukit Brown, including the areas affected by the road building.

This is one of the stories from the twenty-four stories of filial piety:
Ding Lan serving wooden statues of his parents, so as to serve them.

Who goes to Bukit Brown?

Interestingly, other than the descendants of the people who were buried in the more than 100 000 graves in Bukit Brown, many people have found Bukit Brown a place for respite and nature.

I understand that a number of nature lovers visit Bukit Brown to enjoy the rich biodiversity of birds and other living creatures that could be found in Bukit Brown. Others are fascinated by the rich heritage of Bukit Brown and visit it as a form of recreation and heritage-appreciation. I heard that horse-riders also enjoy riding about Bukit Brown.

From reliable sources, I heard that academics are also making their way to Bukit Brown to document and understand the rich heritage that this place has to offer.

Is building the dual four-lane road across Bukit Brown the best answer?

In this post, I invite readers to start to look for win-win solutions to solve the complex issue of urban planning to ensure adequate lands to meet the needs of the people and to resolve traffic congestion without sacrificing our nation's collective memory and heritage unnecessary. What are the win-win strategies that will  ease traffic congestion, ensure adequate lands in Singapore to meet the needs of the people, and at the same time, ensure that places like Bukit Brown which is rich in heritage and a wonderful place for Nature lovers remain for posterity to connect with and to learn from?

As an individual, I do not have the answers and solutions. Yet I believe that we as a nation and community can collectively find the better solutions to the complex problems of our times.

Perhaps engaging multidisciplinary discussions with various stakeholders could help us as a nation find win-win and long-term solutions to solve many of our nation's complex concerns?

I wonder if the previous National Library building along Stamford Road, whom a lot of people have collective fond memories of, would have suffered the fate of demolition had more people in the community voiced up and acted on their concerns?

Back to Bukit Brown, surely with the local and foreign talents in Singapore, surely as a nation, we could have came up collectively with a long-term way to document and preserve its rich heritage while meeting the critical needs of the nation.

Perhaps if we can work more collaboratively as a nation and be willing to invest in a bit more time and resources to look for win-win solutions, we may gain more as a nation because we do not unnecessarily lose the invaluable intangibles that often makes up a vibrant and strong nation.

What are the needs that the key stakeholders hope to meet? How can we as a nation and community find a win-win solution that will meet the various needs?

Resources to learn more about Bukit Brown
If you would like to enhance your awareness of Bukit Brown so as to determine if it could be worth preserving, here are some of the web-pages to visit:


Jo Ann S said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jo Ann S said...

Thank you for your posts on Bukit Brown cemetery. I am one of the horseback riders to whom you refer who regularly uses the cemetery to take my horse for a relaxing walk outside of the club. The cemetery is my favorite place in Singapore. It is so peaceful, green, and full of nature and wildlife as well as history. It is truly an unique oasis on this island full of concrete hdbs. I am greatly saddened by its impending demise and wish there was something I could do to help preserve it. How can we convince the government to place more value on preservation rather than development?

oceanskies79 said...

Hi Jo Ann Spitzer, thanks for your interest. Would you be interested in joining the "Heritage Singapore - Bukit Brown Cemetery" FB page?

There are some discussions there on raising the general public and the public service's awareness of the value of Bukit Brown Cemetery. One of which is the possibility of getting the various interest groups, e.g. horseback riders, to organise events to raise the awareness of this place.

This two weekends, 9 and 16 Oct 2011, there are folks from the "Heritage Singapore - Bukit Brown Cemetery" FB page who are organising a "Remember your ancestors' day cum DIY Tour"

oceanskies79 said...

On our own, we may only be a voice. Together and united, perhaps the synergy of the whole will be greater than its parts.