More than meets the eye : re-examining the motives behind Singapore's Chinatown conservation efforts, 1980s to 1990s
Lee, Ivan Jia Xiang
Date of Issue2017
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Singapore’s Chinatown, so rich in history, yet often taken for granted. Prior to Singapore’s independence, Chinatown was officially carved out as a residential area, housing Chinese coming to Singapore. However, after independence, Singapore’s pursuit for modernization led business owners and investors to perceive Chinatown as a sore thumb, due to its proximity to Singapore’s Central Business District, hindering business development and expansion. But the government saw that Chinatown was an area by which they could capitalize on to generate revenue, satisfying tourist fascination for oriental mystique. Hence an official statement was issued, declaring that Chinatown would undergo a series of conservation efforts, spanning from the 1980s to 1990s. This resulted in much resentment amongst Singaporeans, fearing that the conservation efforts would lead to the loss of Chinatown’s historical authenticity. Though we see attempts made by the citizens in wanting to exercise agency, but ultimately, the government had the final say in dictating the conservation efforts. Therefore, my research paper seeks to re-examine the motivations of the PAP in wanting to conserve Chinatown, by looking at the space of Chinatown and how this space is an arena for contestation of power between both the government and the citizens.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University