Reported by: H. Jiang
SINGAPORE: A random multi-storey carpark in Tiong Bahru was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site this morning at the 42nd plenum of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, culminating five years of lobbying by delegates of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. It is the world’s first carpark to be conferred a UNESCO World Heritage status and also the city-state’s first ever UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“This is a historic moment for the city-state and another drop into an ocean of overwhelming evidence that points to Singapore’s immense geopolitical and cultural importance on the global stage on par with superpowers and more importantly, above our neighbouring countries,” Mr. Chan, Minister for Culture and Heritage told reporters. “The next step would naturally be a lobby for the conferment of the UNESCO World Heritage status on all multi-storey carparks in Singapore.”
Crowds that were forced to gather at the roof of the carpark cheered jubilantly when the news was announced over a live-telecast of the UNESCO World Heritage 42nd Plenum. Among the crowd was Mrs. Tan Boliao, Chairman of the Society for the Silent Majority, a non-governmental organisation which represents the voiceless silent majority of the Singaporean community. She applauded the move, proclaiming that it was the result of efforts by the pioneer generation and proof of the effectiveness of Asian Values and family values in enhancing the cultural supremacy of Singaporean society.
The multi-storey carpark, built in 1965, was recognised for its outstanding historic value, being witnessed to 50 years of turbulent but eventually successful nation-building efforts in Singapore, particularly for the fact that Singapore’s venerated founding father Mr. Lee Lao-Da had parked his car at the car park not once but at least three times over a period of ten years. Moreover, the fact that access to the carpark was not limited to vehicles owned by a particular class or ethnic group was noted by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee as a symbolic representation of Singapore’s progressive commitment to meritocracy and equality. Members of committee had also expressed amazement that vehicles owned by residents of different races and religions could co-exist in harmony in the same building.
The exceptionally unique utilitarian architecture of the carpark featuring concrete painted in kitschy colours, although repeated in hundreds of other carparks throughout the country and internationally, was also highly praised.
Minister Chan further added that the carpark is a testament to the great and unassailable legacy of the pioneer generation but did not elaborate on the logical link behind his statement. He did however later explain on a Facebook post that all achievements of Singapore and Singaporeans “must invariably and zealously be credited to the pioneer generation” regardless of how unrelated or frivolous the link may be.
The successful UNESCO bid was not without criticism. Singaporean netizens noted for their rabid disenchantment however valid, took to online forums to lambaste the alleged absurdity of the conferment. A netizen by the handle of “The Silent Majority” said, “I don’t get how such a mundane and insignificant carpark could be declared a UNESCO [World Heritage] site. This is an insult to other UNESCO sites that are in an entirely different class of historical and cultural value.”
Disregarding criticisms of the absurdity of a mundane carpark being declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Member of Parliament for the Tiong Bahru constituency who was also a frequent user of the carpark and who also identified as a member of the silent majority, Ms. Wendy Yeo, defended the UNESCO status and called those who criticised the country’s achievements as unpatriotic and seditious. She further accused dissenters of attempting to incite a culture war against the silent majority, the pioneer generation and the government.
Following the announcement of the successful UNESCO World Heritage Site bid, the Singapore Tourism Council had released a statement that multi-storey carparks are an integral, if not the main essence of the Singaporean identity and also unveiled a new tour package for tourist which featured a 14-days tour of various multi-storey carparks in the country.
Additional reporting by J. Haolie.
Indeed, in its own right, the Botanic Gardens is a place of history, beauty and diversity. These are qualities that are solely lacking in Singapore. But to confer a UNESCO World Heritage status on the Gardens is an absurd, if not almost facetious gesture.