Mr Leon Perera asked the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth whether more historic war bunkers may be made accessible to the public via guided tours, or protected and developed into heritage attractions, so that more members of the public may visit them in a safe manner.
Mr Edwin Tong Chun Fai: World War II (WWII) is a significant and poignant chapter in Singapore’s history. Our WWII-related sites range from military installations, such as war bunkers, to civilian buildings and structures which have witnessed significant events during the war.
The National Heritage Board (NHB) recognises the importance of protecting these sites and making them accessible to the public so that Singaporeans can appreciate Singapore’s development journey, and the resilience of our people, set in the longer context of our history.
Many of these sites are already publicly accessible. Tours are available for The Battlebox at Fort Siloso, and other WWII-related locations, such as the Former Ford Factory and NHB’s two WWII interpretative centres: Reflections at Bukit Chandu and Changi Chapel and Museum.
However, some WWII sites may not be suitable for year-round public access. These include sites located on private property or in restricted areas, such as military camps and training grounds.
Some sites may also be located in areas which may not be safe for public access due to difficult terrain, or that doing so may negatively impact the ecology surrounding the site.
Where possible, NHB partners property owners, heritage community and other public agencies to facilitate time-limited, special access for the public to some of these sites in a safe manner, as part of its annual Battle for Singapore series of programmes. These include the recent Fort Connaught Rediscovery Tour, as well as tours to Old Changi Hospital, and Former Admiralty House and Bunker in previous editions.
The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) and NHB will continue to partner the community, private sector and other public agencies to facilitate more research, study, documentation and access to Singapore’s WWII sites.
Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth
3 March 2023