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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bukit Brown Cemetery - Is there no other alternative?

Read with sadness the planned development of the Bukit Brown Cemetery for housing. The Urban Development Authority has earmarked the 86 hectares sprawling ground for housing development. According to a statement from the URA, " ‘We have to take a balanced long-term approach in land-use planning, and be very selective in what we conserve because of our land scarcity.As our population grows, we have to meet increasing land needs for various uses. Bukit Brown and Bidadari occupy large land areas that will be needed for housing purposes, and are not included in our conservation plans.’

Behind all this mumbo jumbo crap, what is the guy really trying to say? Let me try to interpret. Dead man pays no tax, the ground does not generate any income and is a valuable piece of land which is a gold mine. So forget any idea of preserving the sites. It is just not economically feasible.

And that is the plain truth. To said that there is land scarcity and we have to be balanced in how we make use of the land is utter rubbish. Yes there is land scarcity. But there are also a lot of lands that are being used for very unproductive (in my opinion) purpose and worse, only a small number of the population is making use of it. What am I talking about?

Golf course! Yes at last count, there are at least 23 golf course in Singapore. Each 18 hole golf course is on average about 49 hectares. The majority of the bigger golf course here are much bigger. Laguna is 126 hectares and has 3100 members, Tanah Merah with 2 courses is easily one of the biggest with each 18 hole course at least 6000 metres in length. The NSRCC has 2 golf courses with the one at Tanah Merah having 27 holes and another 18 hole course at Kranji. You go do the maths. SICC has 2 courses ironically opposite Bukit Brown. And I can go on and on. By all accounts, the members of these golf courses holds multiple memberships across the clubs and so in my reckoning, golfers still form a minority of the population. But I must admit that the background of the golfers means they bring in the big bucks for the country and the industries they are in so maybe golf courses are "untouchable?"

So rather than take back a few golf courses that are not in the catchment area, it is easier to develop Bukit Brown (no need to pay compensation) or even Bukit Timah reserve. But really, is there no other alternative? Do we need so many more private developments? Certainly I am sure that Bukit Brown is not going to become a HDB estate but a private estate just like the surround areas around Bukit Timah Reserve.

Support the initiative to preserve Bukit Brown. Join the free tours, join the petition on the web. Visit the place to see for yourself our rich cultural history. And if you really can't find the time to go, take a look at what you and the rest of Singapore will be missing once it is gone:

Heritage Trail
Bukit Brown Chinese Cemetery

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