Heritagerests in how it touches people and communities, be it festivals, food ortraditions, passed down from one generation to another.
Heritagemay not lie only black-and-white pictures or stored in museum display cases.Sometimes, it comes alive through vibrantly colourful set and boisterous music. The annually-held Singapore HeritageFestival embraces the diversity of Singapore’s multi-cultural population,whilst building cross-cultural appreciation and understanding. The festivalhighlights key events and locations throughout Singapore such as the Sun Yat SenNanyang Memorial Hall and Jewish Quarters in Bras Basah that shaped the country that we know of today. Byfostering a strong sense of national identity, it ensures that our roots willnever be forgotten. TheNational Heritage Board Act was revised in 2014, mainly to encourage publicawareness, appreciation and understanding of the arts, culture and heritage,both by means of the Board’s collections and by other means as it considersappropriate. Conservation districts have been set up around Singapore tomaintain the ambience and physical character of historic buildings.
One suchdistrict is at Emerald Hill and Cairnhill, which are historic areas situatednear Downtown Singapore. The preserved two-storey terrace houses built over 90years ago showcases the former homes of wealthy Peranakan families inSingapore’s early days. The preservationof these buildings has since become a popular attraction for both tourists andlocals, seeking to understand the heritage behind these historic buildings. Somemay argue that the Singapore government values modernisation over importantheritage sites. With Singapore being the top investment destination in Asia,older buildings are being taken down to make way for modernisation. The iconicrainbow-coloured estate at Rochor Road was slated to be taken down to make wayfor a new expressway. Despite receiving their notice to move out a few yearsprior, residents were still reluctant to leave.
“It has a good location, verycentral. These are the most colourful HDB flats”, said 80-year-old Mdm Lee. TheRochor Centre holds a special significance to Singapore’s heritage, which wasinitially built to counter the poor sanitation in Singapore’s early days.Regardless of its artistic merits, Singapore still aspires to carry on withtheir development plans.