YES: A good sense of history is vital in helping stakeholders across Singaporean society to understand and shape our future more effectively through the application of lessons from the past.
A sense of history is vital in education, shaping youths’ understanding and sense of connectedness to Singapore, which then forms the basis for their willingness to see Singapore as their home and contribute to its future well-being.
Political leaders and civil servants need a good sense of history as understanding the country’s past challenges and crises provides them with lessons to reflect upon and develop effective policies in the future.
The physical and urban landscape of Singapore in the future would be a more culturally enriched one if city planners and architects with a good sense of history make insightful choices on conserving historically significant buildings serving a variety of residential, civic and commercial roles.
NO: A good sense of history may be useful only to a small degree in helping Singaporeans shape our future as present and future developments are generally unpredictable and impervious to the application of historical lessons.
While having historical understanding is useful, youths will help shape Singapore’s future more effectively if they are taught well about the country’s present and future challenges, whose conditions may be radically different and dynamic compared to the past.
Contemporary political developments in Singapore comprise many historically unique trends, such as a more politically mature electorate, which limit the use of relying on past lessons to the formulation of policies vital to our future well-being.
While the need to preserve historically significant buildings is undeniable, the need to modernize Singapore is greater and our future urban landscape would be more enriched by incorporating contemporary design concepts, such as eco-friendly and zero-waste buildings, which would have no historical parallels.