As with most things Singaporean, the Botanic Gardens did not strike me as a location that would earn a place in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, nor any esteemed list that requires a respectable degree of heritage, historical or cultural background. We are, afterall, only 50 years young.
But we did. The Singapore Botanic Gardens is the third garden to appear in the list after Kew Gardens in England and Padua Gardens in Italy.
The question I had was when I first heard the news was ‘How ?!’
1. Contribution to Trade. We have to thank the rubber seed that made its way here from Kew Gardens, grew up well, and multiplied, thereby prodding the growth of the rubber industry. In fact, rubber did so well here that Malaya became the world’s top producer and exporter of rubber then.
2. History. (Really). The Gardens was set up by the British 156 years ago and its tropical colonial garden landscape hasn’t changed since. We still have the old parchments left by the British detailing all species of plants in the Gardens! It also survived WWII. Golly.
So as America celebrates Independence Day, we pop the best champagne over our inscription of the Gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It may be comparatively a small feat, but it is a big deal for a nation that you can barely see on the world map. Particularly so as we close in on our Golden Jubilee celebrations.
Now, we can add this fast fact into Singapore travel guides, beside the line that says chewing gum is banned here.