Sentosa Merlion, one of Singapore’s most iconic statue, will be demolished in order to allow the construction of a S$90 million “themed thoroughfare” to take place. The new thoroughfare will connect Sentosa’s north and south shores.
This decision was not done overnight as it is part of long-term plans to reshape the island and its neighbouring Pulau Brani into a leading leisure and tourism destination.
The 37m-high Merlion status, which is located at the heart of Sentosa, cannot be relocated due to its size.
“We won’t relocate the Merlion because of its size, but we are considering how to commemorate it,” said Sentosa Development Corporation’s (SDC) chief executive Quek Swee Kuan, adding that the island’s management is considering a new icon for Sentosa.
The last day of operations for the famous landmark will be on 20 October and construction works in the area will begin by the end of 2019. However, the demolition date of the statue depends on the construction plans which are still being finalised, said SDC.
The S$90 million Sentosa Sensoryscape is about the size of 5.5 football fields, or 30,000 sqm, will link Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) in the north to Sentosa’s beaches in the south through a multi-sensory experience, replacing the existing pedestrian thoroughfare.
The management of SDC revealed in the media briefing on Friday (20 September) that some of the features that the new project will have include look-out points, water features as well as other architectural elements that will provide a multi-sensory experience for visitors when they walk across the island.
The two islands – Sentosa and Pulau Brani – are part of the upcoming Greater Southern Waterfront district, which is a 30km-long beach stretch that will be transformed for living, working and playing.
Mr Quek said that the construction of thoroughfare would help people as it fastens the flow of pedestrian traffic. Although he agrees that the visitorship to the island may be affected due to the construction works, he believes it will be worthwhile thanks to the upcoming Siloso Green lifestyle and a new family-themed attraction at Palawan beach.
Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat said to the Straits Times (ST) that the Sentosa Sensoryscape will complement RWS’s expansion and future infrastructure enhancements on the two islands.
He added that the decision was taken in order to link and develop both the islands so that land use can be maximised and create more opportunities for projects and better connectivity.
“There are also plans to see how we can, in the short and medium term, enhance the value of…the Southern Islands for eco-tourism, for families to visit and learn about a part of Singapore,” he said.
On the other hand, the Singapore Tourism Board stressed in a statement that the redevelopment of both Sentosa and Pulau Brani forms an important part of Singapore’s effort to rejuvenate its leisure offerings and maintain its attractiveness.
The Board also noted that other six Merlion statues located at Merlion Park, Mount Faber, Tourism Court and Ang Mo Kio will continue its operation.
Upon reading this news, many netizens were displeased with the decision to get rid of an iconic landmark in the country. They said tearing down an important landmark in the country is a “bad omen”. Penning their thoughts in the Facebook page of Wake Up Singapore, some questioned why the statue can’t be relocated to another place to make way for this pedestrian bridge.
A few said that the saddest part of this development is that there’s already an existing bridge in place which didn’t live up to the management’s expectations, and they decided to build yet another one. “How they came to the conclusion that they should build yet another pedestrian bridge and demolish an icon in the process is beyond me,” said Mason Sim.
Others questioned the need to spend S$90 million just to build a bridge. They added that the large sum of money can be used for something more useful, like helping the less fortunate individuals living in Singapore.