The Old and New: Yang Dan Xu

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staked, hill 2 (photo: Claire Leow)

Zaobao Viewpoint
Jun 3, 2012

亦新亦旧 by 杨丹旭

星星月亮太阳

每过一阵子回宁波探亲,这座久违的城市总会让我看到一些新的变化,这一次是南塘老街。

南塘老街地处宁波旧时的南门外,在明清时期曾是喧嚣的商贸中心。入城的南塘河流经那里,好几公里的河畔是依序排开的老宅子,形成江南水乡一河一街的景象。

对我而言,这里更是留下了许多童年回忆。今天的南塘老街,正是昔日的外婆家。90年代末,外婆和其他沿河老宅子里的居民一起,因为拆迁而搬离。

带着渴望重拾回忆的初衷来到南塘老街,我却感觉自己完全是个陌生人。

几百米长的街道上,新铺上去的水泥石板在阳光下光洁如洗。街道两旁的“旧房子”看上去都是新盖的,虽然还是乌墙黑瓦,却找不到岁月洗礼的痕迹。

仿古的建筑中,到处弥漫着商业气息,木制的窗花还隐约散发出油漆的味道。“三味馆”、“涌上外婆桥”、“阿明土猪包子铺”,放眼望去,几乎所有的店名都在刻意地拥抱乡土和古早。

南塘老街的另一边厢,是成片老房子被拆之后的废墟。那里将要建造南塘老街第二期。不难想象下一次回去,又能看到一片商业化的仿古建筑。

掏空老街旧巷的灵魂,再给她穿上仿古的新衣,寄望她重现旧日的风韵,这样的故事正在中国的不少地方上演。

无论是一线城市还是二线城市,都在追求摩登的天际线。有一天,城市厌倦了钢筋水泥,想要回顾亭台楼阁和青瓦石砖,却发现那些早已经为旧城改造让路。于是各地政府开始对一切带着“古老”二字的事物趋之若鹜,用现代人对过去的想象,打造所谓的古镇、老街,却唤不回那股原汁原味。

新与旧的博弈是城市发展永远面临的难题,即使历史并不悠久的新加坡也是如此。

本地对一些古建筑的保留是值得肯定的。尽管新加坡土地有限,但还是有多达7000多座建筑被保留。许多建筑保留下来后,也被赋予新生命,在新环境中发挥新作用。

可是,在一些新与旧的取舍中,我们还是有值得探讨的空间,前阵子掀起风波的武吉布朗就是一个例子。

1万5000个住屋单位,相当于大巴窑住屋数量的四成,让5万人栖身。面对武吉布朗这样的发展潜力,寸土寸金的新加坡很难说不。然而,当武吉布朗课题进入公众关注视线的近一年后,除了记录受影响的坟墓和把坟墓的资料绘制在电子地图上,我们似乎还未看到有更实在的方案,来保护具有历史和人文价值的先贤坟墓。

更让人意外的是,作为肩负保护历史文化责任的国家文物局,至今也没有在传承武吉布朗价值的问题上作出明确的表态。

新与旧的角力在新加坡未来的发展道路上将是个延续的问题。在武吉布朗势态进程中起到一定作用的民间团体,是否能在更多类似的课题上发挥作用?如果没有这些来自民间的声音,决策者是否也能有意识地做到顾此而不失彼?这些都在新加坡文化价值的传承上至关重要。

对于两百年前才逐步发展起来的新加坡而言,历史二字也许显得太过沉重。然而无论是处于历史洪流中的哪个据点,如果懂得珍惜,再短的过去也能沉淀累积,一旦不懂得珍惜,再长的历史也终有殆尽的一天。

 

Translation:

Zaobao Viewpoint
Jun 3, 2012

The Old and New by Yang Dan Xu

15,000 housing units, that is the equivalent to 40% of Toa Payoh Housing Estate, enough to house 50,000 people.

This kind of development potential for Bukit Brown for a land scarity Singapore is difficult to say no. But after the Bukit Brown issue has been brought to the public attention a year ago, except for documentation of the affected graves and uploading of the grave data onto a digital map, it looks as if we have not seen actual steps taken to protect the history and cultural value of this cemetery of pioneers.

What is perhaps more surprising is that National Heritage Board, that is tasked with protecting and preservation of our heritage, is conspicuously silent on its position on the value of the heritage of Bukit Brown.

The tussle between the old and the new for the future development for Singapore will always be a continuous issue. Can the civic society groups which has played a role to a certain extent in the Bukit Brown issue, play a role in similar future situations? If there were no voices from the public, can the policy makers make a conscious effort to take things into consideration without ignoring the people’ voice? All these are extremely important issues for the preservation of Singapore cultural heritage.

For a nation with a short developmental history of 200 years, the word history perhaps seem too heavy. But whatever is the base in the flow of history, a short history that is treasured can precipitate and accumulate, whereas on the otherhand, a long period of history if unappreciated will disappear one day.

Some tombs are already marked (staked) for exhumation

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