New sites gazetted as national monuments

The Singapore Conference Hall and the adjoining Trade Union House which was the former home of the labour movement, have been gazetted as National Monuments by the Preservation of Monuments Board (PMB).

Also being gazetted are three Esplanade Park Memorials, the Lim Bo Seng Memorial, Tan Kim Seng Fountain and Cenotaph.

This brings the number of Singapore’s National Monuments to 63.

The Board said the Monuments were selected for their architectural merit and social-historical significance that spans across the different communities in Singapore.

The Singapore Conference Hall and the Trade Union House have witnessed many key events in Singapore’s history.

The Hall, for example, had been the main centre to collate election results and was also the venue for the Prime Minister to hold his post-election news conference while the Trade Union House was the venue for the labour movement’s Modernisation Seminar in the 1970s.

Ms Jean Wee, Director of the PMB, said that the Singapore Conference Hall is the first post-colonial building to be gazetted.

“In the past it all stood for the tripartite relationship for the workers employers and the government. We see it as a very intrinsic part of Singapore’s development and architecturally,” she said.

Ms Wee added that the upkeeping of the venue as a national monument will be a challenge.

“Every time a building is actually gazetted as a monument, we set out preservation guidelines and these are comprehensive plans for the monument owners to actually bear in mind restoration and renovation of any kind. The intent is actually to ensure that the intrinsic features of the monuments are retained.”

The Preservation of Monuments Board also gazettes smaller structures. This is to commemorate the contributions of notable individuals to the community and the nation.

One such example is the Cenotaph at the Esplanade Park. This structure was erected and unveiled by the Prince of Wales in 1920. This is to recognise Singapore’s participation in the first and second world wars.

The Tan Kim Seng Fountain recognises Chinese philanthropist Tan Kim Seng’s financial contribution, in helping to provide water supply to Singapore, in 1857 while the Lim Bo Seng memorial commemorates the hero’s efforts in the Japanese Occupation.

Ms Wee said that for 2011, education and outreach will be an area of focus.

“Education and outreach is an on-going concern of ours because we can’t assume that everybody is interested in architecture and heritage. So our outreach ranges from travelling exhibitions and school education kits and basically to highlight to young Singaporeans who do not know the history of these buildings that these were the stories behind these buildings and we see them as landmarks today but in the past they have played a role in the community.”

The Board has been holding travelling exhibitions at public malls and in 2011, these exhibitions will also be brought to schools.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 27 Dec 2010

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