I have been staring at it for the last couple of weeks. Not death... but the building you see below. Recognise it? Bet you don't.
This is what we do most of the time when we "redevelop" or "renovate". We get rid of the old so that we can have rebirth.
It just so happened that I was reading Deepak Chopra's The Book of Secrets which I admit was quite a struggle for me trying to grasp the concepts in the book. It has fascinating views. One of them is that we die everyday (our cells do) ... so that we can live. But another theme I have come across elsewhere which is also discussed by Deepak is the concept of attachment. When we become too attached to certain things, we become materialistic. There also some interesting ideas about time - its all about now, don't focus on the past and the future. Maybe I am not getting all of it but I thought about it and about how we should or could justify demolishing an old building so that we can have something new.
Which brings me to the building above. Those of you who studied in USM from the 1970s will remember the Security Guard Office at the first roundabout coming from the Minden Gate. The Pak Guards have moved to a new building and Persatuan Alumni USM is now renovating the old building (the signboard says "ubahsuai") . But it looks to me like wholesale destruction. Only the RC frame is left. If you look at the blue-coloured wall still standing in the picture above, that's the original double-brick load-bearing wall probably dating from the days of the Military Barracks. Some one or some committee must have made a decision that there is no historic or heritage value attached to this building. I was there with a group of people a few months back and I had drawn attention to the location of the old walls and opined that they should try to retain them. I guess my opinion was overruled. That's alright by me but how was the decision made? Who made it? Oh, yes I am sure they don't have old drawings and records to refer to but was it cost or convenience the determining factor?
And I am sure all the construction debris ended up in the landfill. If you look at the artist's sketch, you will wonder why they have to demolish all the walls?
Now here's a nicely (well not really either) restored heritage building which used to be occupied by Alumni USM but now covered with huge advertising signs.
Are we trying to detach ourselves from our past?