Our tarnished heritage

WE WRITE in response to recent newspaper reports regarding the declining quality of life in the conserved Tiong Bahru estate.

Since the gazetting of Tiong Bahru as a conservation site in 2003, committed residents have consistently collaborated with grassroots leaders and the town council to improve its heritage value. We are deeply distressed that current developments will reverse much of this work, and are dismayed that Government agencies have shown a lack of regard for the concerns of the community.

Foremost, we are extremely concerned that the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has allowed Hotel 81 to operate close to the Tiong Bahru residential area. Without prejudice to the hotel, we naturally fear the exposure of our families and children to potentially negative activities, which may be linked to the availability of hourly-stay rates.

We are disappointed with the lack of response by the STB when recently queried by the media, and call on the STB to explain immediately. We similarly call on Hotel 81 to clarify their intentions to set up operations in this neighbourhood – to many of us, having this hotel adjacent to residential property is simply not acceptable.

A second concern relates to landlords and agents in the estate who operate illegal workers’ dormitories and collect thousands in rental profit without concern for the consequent noise, litter and fire hazards. We request that the Housing and Development Board, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, National Environment Agency, Singapore Civil Defence Force and other relevant agencies urgently respond to enforce the law in what is a persistent and festering problem.

These issues continue to adversely affect the heritage value of this gazetted conservation estate, and should be addressed by policymakers and enforcement agencies. The estate has already suffered a loss of heritage with the treasured and historic Bird Corner now relocated to the Link Hotel, due to poorly regulated commercial development and conservation efforts.

As a community, we hope to continue collaborating with both private and public sectors to maintain the quality of Tiong Bahru estate as a national heritage. We do not want to see another heritage site of historical importance – Singapore’s first public housing project – irreversibly destroyed.

We welcome urgent engagement by the relevant agencies and Hotel 81 with regard to the matters raised. We are eager to contribute constructively towards reaching a resolution acceptable to all parties.

Source : Today – 17  Jun 2009

Join The Discussion

Compare listings