(Photo by Yahoo Singapore)
There was quite a big stink when the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) mentioned the National Arts Council bin centre for Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall, in its annual audit.
The NAC Bin Centre cost the NAC $470,000 to build, and $410,000 for the consultancy fee.
The NAC defended its very expensive dustbin at this Gahmen website.
I think the NAC has nothing to explain. I totally get it. NAC Bin Centre isn't just a bin centre. It is THE Bin Centre of the Nation.
NAC Bin Centre is the benchmark that all Bin Centres in Singapore must aspire to. That includes Bin Centres in PAP and Opposition wards.
Sure this bin centre cost $410,000 in consultancy fees and $470,000 to build, but it is the most iconic rubbish collection bin in the nation. Paris has the Lourve. London has the Tate Modern. Singapore now has the NAC Bin Centre.
I plan to take my kids here one day and show them what $880,000 can build. It's not just a bin centre, it's a nation's legacy.
For too long, we have viewed bin centres as just a place to throw rubbish, while ignoring the aesthetics and the spiritual role that bin centres play in our civic and public life.
How do we build a Bin Centre that does not smell? That improves traffic flow? That can unite the rubbish disposal of not just one, not just two, but THREE entire buildings: the ACM, VTVCH and Old Parliament House?
How to build a Bin Centre, my fellow Singaporeans, that can unite… A NATION?
We want the NAC Bin Centre to be a beacon for the arts. Where people can gather to read a poem or two, or paint something, or just hang out next to the NAC Bin Centre to discuss art, music and theatre, without smelling it.
Also, like any artistic project that is this complex, where we need to ensure all the rubbish-throwing stakeholders' needs are met, consultancy is key, and consultancy costs money, people.
If HDB spent the same amount of money on their bin centre planning as the NAC, people would scramble to buy flats next to HDB bin centres. People would not just ask if a flat had good fengshui or was "high floor, no block". People would also ask, "next to bin centre or not?"
We must say no more to bland bin centres that stick out like open wounds in the landscape of our heartlands. We must look to the NAC Bin Centre for inspiration, where form meets function, where past meets present, and where art meets rubbish disposal.
Generations will come and stand before NAC Bin Centre, and gasp at the audacity of its vision. How do you put a price tag on a bin centre that boldly went where no bin has gone before?
When I look upon the NAC Bin Centre, I can almost hear it saying, "My name is NAC Bin Centre, bin of bins: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
That is why, instead of rubbishing this project, I propose we spend another half a million dollars for a brand consultancy to rename the NAC Bin Centre as NAC Bin Centre.