Facing greater competition for tourist dollars, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) initiated the ‘Uniquely Singapore’ campaign in 2004. It portrayed Singapore as modern yet maintaining tradition and local culture. This has attained some success. Frommer’s (tourist guide books) in its Introduction describes Singapore as ‘Pint-sized Singapore is a mosaic of contrasting cultures’ (accessed 31 Oct 2016).
As of 28 July 2016, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has conserved more than 7000 buildings (beginning in 1973). Some of these are at Cairnhill near the shopping district of Orchard Road. One building taken down along that road, however, was the Specialist Shopping Centre. In its place are Somerset 313 and Orchard Central (which has the unique Orchard Library – a very nice touch if I may add – different from its predecessor housed in Takashimaya).
I had the chance of using the old National Library near Doby Ghaut MRT station and the two storey Singapore Armed Forces Non-Commissioned Officers (SAF NCO) clubhouse on Beach Road (opposite the Raffles Hotel). Both no longer exist. The former made way for a road tunnel. The latter for a mixed development including the South Beach Hotel (up to 45 stories) and offices among others. 3 blocks from the neighbouring Beach Road Camp were nonetheless preserved. Block 1 according to the Straits Times has become a ‘a hip lifestyle spot‘ (21 Nov 2015). If the takeup rate for the residential units are high, then the vibrancy of the area is likely to be expanded and sustained. In this example, we could safely say that the URA has retained our ‘distinctive character’ and ‘sense of history and memory’.