Rethinking Chinatown and Heritage Conservation in Singapore
by Kwok Kian-Woon, C.J. Wee Wan-Ling and Karen Chia (eds.)
(Singapore Heritage Society, 2000)
Should Chinatown be built as a tourist destination or should it develop organically as living heritage? This is still a perennial question that yields no easy answers despite being hotly debated in every decade. A major milestone was Chinatown’s redevelopment in the 80’s when old shophouses were renovated and conserved, and street hawkers and market holders rehoused, with Chinatown losing many traditional trades.
Rethinking Chinatown was written by the Singapore Heritage Society in the late 1990s when the government made substantial plans to develop and rebrand Chinatown as a tourist destination amidst strong public protests. Rethinking Chinatown addresses issues still relevant today: Who should Chinatown be developed for? What constitutes heritage? And how do we best sustain heritage?