Relocating memories – to save drivers 5 to 10 mins

The government has announced the acquisition of the Rochor area which will affect four blocks of HDB flats, 187 rental shops and eating houses at the Rochor Centre as well as 21 private properties which will have part of their plots acquired. (Yahoo)

Ostensibly, the exercise is to make way for the construction of the new 21.5 km North-South Expressway (NSE).

Despite protests and unhappiness, it is a done deal. In Singapore, when the government makes up its mind, the cows can come home and nothing’s going to budge. The case of Rochor is particularly puzzling – given how Singaporeans were just recently also unhappy with how the government acted with regards to the Bukit Brown Cemetery (BBC) matter.

In the BBC issue, some five per cent of the cemetery, affecting some 10,000 graves, are to be exhumed to – yup, again – make way for a road.

The decision was taken without any public consultation (although the government did speak to various groups and organisations before announcing the redevelopment plans). The general public, thus, were upset. Minister of State for National Development, Tan Chuan Jin, said the government could have done better in terms of discussing with the public the alternative options for building a road earlier.

But whatever it is, one thing is for sure: the memories of our past apparently is secondary to the progress of the present and the future.

Memories – which hold us, which gives us roots to our past – are valued less than the economic reality of today. Memories are sacrificed at the altar of renewal and convenience.

Memories must make way – so that our drivers have a shorter drive.

Even if such heartbreaking tearing-away from one’s home is to afford our drivers a mere 5 to 10 minutes saving in driving time.

Would it not save us all so much upheaval and unhappiness if drivers simply woke up 5 to 10 minutes earlier each day? This is not being facetious as this is precisely the reason the government has given for the relocation and acquisition – so that drivers can save a few minutes of driving time!

After the General Election in May, where the ruling party lost  some 6 per cent of the vote, two SMCs and one GRC, Singaporeans thought things would change in how the government handled matters. Indeed, the PAP itself pledged a “new epoch”. The PM spoke of better communications and consultation.

But apparently, there is much still left to be desired.

The government needs – desperately – to no longer use such high-handed tactics on its people. The law may allow it to acquire as and when and where it needs to. But the law – and power – must not be applied without compassion, without understanding that some actions, while legal, do not necessarily mean it is right or without consequences.

And in the case of Rochor, the redevelopment means uprooting families, erasing memories, cancelling out the past, even destroying kinship and severing friendships and community ties.

All to save drivers 5 to 10 minutes of driving time.

Yes, the government needs to come out with a better reason than this pathetic one.

There are places I’ll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
In my life I love you more


2 thoughts on “Relocating memories – to save drivers 5 to 10 mins

  1. 5-10 minutes * thousands of drivers * many years = a huge amount of time. So yes, I say the trade off is worth it.

  2. If the purpose of destroying the Rochor apartments is to build a new tunnel, then I would say that it’s a tough call but ultimately the NS Expressway is for the good of all.

    If the purpose of destroying Rochor is to make sure the property prices in the CBD go up, and there are no cheap alternatives for people to live near the CBD area, no cheap places for people to eat food (Guys, what is the REAL reason that people demolished the Hill Street hawker centre 10 years ago?) then I think that things are more suspicious.

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