Hotel unfinished but nine in 10 rooms taken

The Straits Times
Sep 1, 2007

Demand for Link Hotel rooms even before official opening highlights room crunch
By Tania Tan

IT IS barely finished, but already, nine in 10 rooms at the Link Hotel have been taken.
There is still some way to go before its official opening next month and the second block is still being refurbished, but the hotel's guests are just glad to have rooms to lay down their heads at night.

Of the 150 rooms now available in the Tiong Bahru Road hotel, converted from the old Singapore Improvement Trust flats, 130 have been let out.

The demand for these rooms, priced at between $260 and $600 a night, kicked in even before the hotel's soft opening in mid-July, and it has consistently filled its rooms since then.
This thirst for rooms is just a sign of the boom times for hotels.

The hotel's executive assistant manager James Ting said travel agents were already calling him in June to secure rooms for their clients.

'There was definitely a big demand. The travel agents needed rooms,' he said.
And no wonder. July saw a record-breaking 951,000 visitors vying for the just over 36,000 hotel rooms available here.

Mr Ting, noting an increasing number of guests from India and China, said: 'They travel within Asia because it's familiar territory, and cheaper than Europe or America, so there's bigger demand now.'

Industry players have already been warning of a room crunch.

Mr Robert Khoo, who heads the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore, has in fact gone as far as to say that the shortage in rooms could put a dampener on growth in tourist arrivals.

The Singapore Tourism Board has said it is working with the Urban Redevelopment Authority to monitor the supply of hotel rooms.

Since last August, contracts for nine hotel sites, which should yield about 3,100 rooms, have been awarded, among them, the Link Hotel.

And with next year's Formula One races expected to draw some 80,000 to 90,000 more revellers here, the room shortage situation is beginning to look acute.

Yesterday, the Minister of Trade & Industry Lim Hng Kiang said that the Government was aware of the situation and was 'looking at it'.

The agencies would release land, and with room rates going up, there would be more interest from developers, he said.

Si Kar Teng

Jalan Membina (Opposite Zhangde Pri Sch)

Kim Tian Road (Next to Regency Suite)

Was it a coincidence or was it an attempt by HDB to provide residents with subtle hints of this area's original identity?

These modern Si Kar Tengs are found around the Kim Tian Place area. Even though these structures had been there for more than 10 years, I did not give it much thought until I realised the significance these pavilions had for this area.

I bet not many residents here knew about this also. The pavilions looked ordinary and there is nothing there to associate these pavilions to the origins of this area.

Maybe no one likes to remember that this was once a CHINESE cemetery and so one one talks about it. But the truth was this was a major Chinese cemetery in the 19th century and many pavilions were erected on the graves back then. Those pavilions were used as a shelter against the scorching sun when the descendants of the deceased came to pay their respects during the annual “Qing Ming” festival. As all the pavilions were erected with 4 pillars, so that was how this area was referred to as SI KAR TENG.

No one call this place SI KAR TENG anymore. I last time I heard it was probably in the early eighties. But my Dad's generation will still have vivid memories of this place as he told me he could see the coffins sticking out of the eroded slopes when he was much much younger.

I think I would have freaked out big time if I ever saw those sticking around.......remember....OLD OVER SIZED CHINESE coffins.....not the modern sleek designed type with MP3 players and built in aircon.

Our Splendid Seng Poh Garden

Excerpt from Tanjong Pagar Town Council, The Window, July Edition

After six months and at a cost of $250,000, the sunny morning we had on 6 May was just right for the opening of our new garden. Many got up a little earlier to join the morning walk at 8am. Then we sat down for a rest and chat, to music by and expert zither player.

There were long queues for the free popcorn, cakes and water. And all sorts of interesting things for sale at a flea market by the side. If you didn’t like either, you could just enjoy the flowers. Seng Poh Garden is now the only garden in Tanjong Pagar Town with over thirty types of flowers in it!

Assoc Prof Koo Tsai Kee arrived at about nine, and joined us as we learned more about the history of the garden from the MC. The 1st garden was built in 1972, and had a fountain. Barbecue pits were installed later in 1992, but removed in 2006, when residents complained of the smoke and noise. Now we have pavilions surrounded by greenery, and an amphitheatre perfect for events.

We also learned about our landmark sculpture. “Dancing Lady” was sculpted by the same man who built the Merlion, Mr Lim Nang Seng. And with each renovation, the Lady danced around the garden a little. To make sure we were paying attention, the MC gave a quiz!

After a Wushu performance and a spectacular lion dance, Assoc Prof Koo officially opened the garden to great applause. In the bright morning sun and surrounded by blooms. It seemed even the Lady was pleased with her new home.

Click on the image above for the Chinese Version

Tan Chay Yan (1870 – 1916)

Chay Yan Street in the Tiong Bahru Area is named after a rubber planter, Tan Chay Yan (1870 – 1916). Chay Yan was the eldest son of Tan Teck Guan and the grandson of Tan Tock Seng.

He was known as the first rubber planter in Malaya. In 1896, he planted the seedlings on a 40-acre plantation in Malacca. It turned out to be a success. He then went on to plant rubber on a 3000 acres site. Many followed him later. He could take credit for the prosperity of the Malaysian economy which was boosted by its rubber plantations. Chay Yan also planted rubber trees in Chao Chu Kang, Singapore, with prominent Chinese like Lim Boon Keng, Lee Choon Guan and Tan Jiak Kim.

Educated at a high school in Malacca, he was appointed a Municipal Commissioner at 21 and a Justice of Peace at 24. In 1900, he was elected a member of the Straits Chinese British Association in Singapore and later President of its branch in Malacca. Chay Yan donated $15,000 in the name of his father to a medical school which was to become the King Edward VII Medical School, the forerunner of the University of Singapore’s Medical Faculty.

An orchid variety, Vanda Tan Chay Yan, was named after him. The peach-coloured Vanda Tan Chay Yan is considered one of the most outstanding hybrids produced in Singapore and has established Singapore firmly on the world orchid map. Vanda Tan Chay Yan was awarded a First Class Certificate, the highest award given by the Royal Horticultural Society of the UK, at the Chelsea Flower Show in England in 1954.

A road in Malacca was also named after him in view of his contributions to the country's revenue.

Tan died of malaria at the age of 46. A relative believed he could have caught it during the long hours spent at the rubber plantations. His wife, Chua Ruan Neo, a tenth generation Nyonya here, continued with the family tradition of giving. The couple had seven children - six daughters and a son.

Singapore River

Photo By Yip Cheong-Fun, FRPS, Hon. EFIAP, FPSS, FSEAPS, OPCNYPS
(The photographer was elected "Honorary Outstanding Photographer of the Century" by the Photographic Society of New York in 1980, and was a recipient of the Cultural Medallion of the Republic of Singapore in 1984, the highest national award given to an individual for his or her contribution and achievements in art and culture.)

The Singapore River closely mirrors Singapore`s national life in all its stages. The history of Singapore has its beginnings in this river, when Sir Stamford Raffles and some men first steered their boats into the entrance of a swampy river in January 1819. From this humble beginning, the Singapore River began a historical evolution. It first evolved from a muddy mangrove-lined water course with crocodiles lurking dangerously in search of preys, to a mooring place and a waterway for thousands of bumboats, abutting myriads of old godowns out of which came crates and bales, baskets and boxes carried on the shoulders by coolies to small craft. Then the river turned into a polluted port area and an industrial gutter in which not even the hardiest of fish could survive.

Lady River - Andrew Yip

Remember the folks who first came to our shores,
Fleeing from floods, famine, starvation and wars.
Remember they cleared the forests, pushed back the sea.
They braved the storms and swamps, and built the place that is home to me.

Lady River, your beauty shone and lived on.
Though you might haunt, yet neither tease nor taunt.
How they came - just the same,
Not minding the rugged hills, and nature untame.

Lady River, you`ve launched a thousand ships from distant shores,
Like the Grecian beauty the ancients loved, and the modern man adores.
Thousands of junks, bum-boats, lighters nestled around,
And coolies carrying cargo crates abound.

But like unwelcome guests, they were soon gone,
Leaving behind worn-down warehouses that drew a yawn,
Now you`re very clean; even pristine,
As the twinkling skyline of affluence hems you in.

Then urban renewal plunged right in - dazzling your tearless eyes.
Its magic wand changed all - to modernise or harmonise.
Even the Merlion spewing water from its mouth has shifted.
You`ve survived and thrived - your history and tradition lifted.

You`ve watched time wink - its tricks you understand -
Whatever the fetish, fad or new trend.
Whatever slogan, jargon, or dish delicious -
They`re sometimes serious, often hilarious.

Your weary eyes have seen armies, and statesmen,
Suicides of forlorn coolies and depressed steersmen,
Floating bodies of executed spies and war victims,
Choirs and orchestras with their stirring music or hymns.

You have witnessed senseless invasions, occupations and reoccupations;
Mergers and acquisitions, debates and discussions;
The economy`s boom and gloom and recession;
And urban changes with conservation and preservation.

O Lady River, the fleeting years have not dimmed your complexion.
Twelve tall bridges are still your constant companion.
History and heritage charter your course and give direction.
Footsteps along your banks quietly follow your tradition.

Poem: Andrew Yip (Copyright)
"The boats are gone now
Carried away in tides of cliche
Policy sifted the river, its waters swelling now
Not with trade but pride, a tourist lure
In twinkling lights along the quay.
The boat house at the corner stands still
A colonial restaurant today,
A mockery of days
Gone by, almost forgotten, except
For this single, astute eye."

Singapore River thru a poet's eyes - Lemiel
"The River of Life"
"In the river of life, there is bound to be constant attrition, corrasion or erosion along its narrow winding course. There may be rapids or sharp falls and a great deal of sedimentation. There may be confluence with other lives, as the river meanders along joined by other tributaries, and one might just get confused or lost, because in this river of no return, there are few guiding lights. Much depends on how strong are the riverbanks and what forms the bedrock of the river valley. "
"The River of Life" - Andrew Yip
"If time is the river of my life,
It flows free searching for a serene sea.
Deep and dangerous is its carefree course -
A river of no return with no guiding lights to see."
(an extract from Andrew's poem, "Time - a reflection" )

A mother's love - Andrew Yip
(A special dedication to Sharon on Mother's Day 2008)

I still have a love of gold,
Purer and brighter than the sun.
Friends and fascinations come and go,
But this love endures - a blessing for everyone.

There is nothing more sublime
Than a mother's sweet love and care.
Even in youthful prime, and for all time,
It shines eternal - a glittering gem, serene and rare.

I still feel her salty tears at times,
Tides of memories swarm my mind,
Even the lull of lullabies and nursery rhymes,
The day I had fever and those tear-drops left behind.

Her job was a distant way.
But she still drove home each day
Through highways and by-ways
Beating the tricky traffic lights as always.

Was it yesterday she came,
Across the miles at midday just the same,
That I felt assured by her hug and kiss?
And for all eternity, it's a mother's love I miss.

With all my love, Mum.


Having seen two of the major juried shows this summer, the JCDC Fine Arts Festival and the Under 40, it is obvious that a handful of curators and arts administrators are really trying to reposition Jamaican art internationally by improving exhibition standards prevent the formation of a status quo and give it a swift jumpstart. The guest speaker at the opening of The SuperPlus Under 40 Artist of the Year Exhibition, Taynia Nethersole spoke of defending the reputation of Jamaican contemporary art. She mentioned the declaration of one collector in stating that art in Jamaica was stagnating. Imagine that. A breakaway from convention and focus on experimentation and cultural exploration as seen in the works of young artists such as Cleve Bowen, Kereina Changfatt, Paula Daley and Oya Tyehimba, being declared stagnant. Being a young artist myself that statement is a bit of a slap in the face signalling the loss of the faith in young artists that collectors of previous generations had. This is reconfirmed by one of Jamaica’s most prolific collectors, Wallace Campbell, in a recent interview stating that he rarely collected work from young artists however promising. Is this possibly why so few contemporary artists are barely able to earn a minimum from their work or curated contemporary art shows such as the Curator’s Eye receives a scanty amount of visitors or contemporary artists have to prove commercial viability before being able to book a show at top commercial galleries. Quite possibly, and it is a fact the art community has to live with and I suppose somehow we all get on with it. This resilience carries forth in the work that is out there in the galleries such as The Mutual Gallery and the The CAGE Gallery; the continued encouragement and growing quality of art coming from youth artists, self-taughts and art students by the Jamaica Development of Culture Commission.

I must say however that great encouragement comes from the publication of a very well designed and edited volume of The Jamaican entitled classically, ‘The Art Issue’. If my memory is right, it is the only publication to cover so wide a span of Jamaican art in a few years. It may be a bit pricy for the average student or struggling artist but is well worth it at a price of $850. It could just as well be entitled ‘The Intuitive Art Issue’ or ‘The National Gallery Companion’ as it does give the most space to a timeline similar to the curatorial schema of the National Gallery’s permanent collection and the idea of the Intuitive artist. The general avoidance of new directions in our contemporary art, concerns me a bit. I would have loved to have seen a bit more about artists working with printmaking, assemblage, video, photography. fibre arts, performance, drawing etc. Later in the volume however,features on Christopher Clare, who peeked our interest in The National Gallery’s, Curator’s Eye II and Laura Facey’s under-publicized Institute of Jamaica show were included.

Before closing, I am mentioning an item on my Christmas list for the Jamaican art scene: the renaming of the SuperPlus Under 40 Artist of the Year Exhibition/Competiton. Since it is modelled on the Turner Prize, which has since evolved into a brand partially because of its name which is now comparable to the Oscars and Tony’s, why not employ some of its publicity generating strategies. A brand-worthy name is priceless as evidenced by The Art Issue.

Note: For artists who are not yet aware the National Biennial’s Juried section has been merged with the JCDC Fine Arts Festival so next summer presents an opportunity to enter work once more when the JCDC sends a call to artists.
Also remember to see the Under 40 show at the Mutual Gallery and vote for your favourite body of work. Their artists talk is Tuesday August 28th, 2007 at 6pm.

Because I am sure I have stepped on toes feel free to voice your opinion by posting your comments.

Link to a related article in The Sunday Gleaner:

Tan Kim Ching (1829 - 1892)

Kim Cheng Street in the Tiong Bahru Area was formerly referred to as Kim Ching Street. This street is named after Tan Kim Ching.

Kim Ching was the eldest son of Tan Tock Seng, a native of Changzhou, Fujian province.

He followed his father’s footsteps and achieved considerable success for his Chop Chin Seng, which owned rice mills in Saigon and Siam.

When the Tanjong Pagar Dock Co. (the forerunner of the Port of Singapore Authority) was established in 1863, he contributed $120,000 to its development. He also engaged in saw-mill and shipping.

After his father’s death, he was revered as a leader in the Chinese community.

He was made a Justice of Peace in 1865, two years after he was made an additional Justice of Peace.

Later in 1872, Kim Cheng received another honor of being appointed a honorary magistrate to assist in the administration of justice.

In 1888, he was made a Municipal Commissioner.

As he was engaged in rice and foodstuff trade with Siam and had forged a close relation with the country, he was appointed the first
Consul-General for Siam by the King in 1886.

In 1878, he joined hands with Tan Beng Swee, son of Tan Kim Seng, to found an ancestral shrine Bao Chi Gong for the Tan clan.

In 1888, Kim Cheng was conferred the 3rd class decoration of the Order of the Raising Sun for arranging Prince Komatsu’s (of Japan) visit to Siam on a diplomatic mission.

A charitable man and an arbitrator, Kim Cheng had great influence on the Chinese in Kelantan and Petani.

Before the signing of the Pangkor Treaty on Perak affairs, he exerted influence on the secret society members of Shan He Hui to accept mediation by the government.

He was fluent in Malay and was arguably the most powerful Chinese leader in the region in the 19th century

Kim Cheng died in 1892 at 63, leaving behind a daughter and several grandchildren.

All his sons died earlier than him.


Whenever my grandma needed to visit her relatives in Neil Road, she would hire a trishaw to take my brother and me there. She would ask the trishaw rider to cycle through the "SI PAI POR" which was the Singapore General Hospital (SGH). (SGH was just next to the Tiong Bahru Estate, before the CTE came about)

Hence I always thought the phrase "SI PAI POR" was the Teochew translation for "HOSPITAL". I never really dwell on the origins of that word until I started researching for this blog.

Here's what I found out:

There used to be a few road names within the present SGH compound that were known as Sepoy Avenue, Sepoy Lanes and Sepoy Lines. (These road names has since been expunged)

These roads are named after the Sepoy Camp (Indian troops) of the East India Company (EIC), whose quarters were located in the area. These EIC soldiers came after the founding of Singapore in 1819. They officially acquired their names in 1958. The name Sepoy lines, which is located at the end of Salat Road (Silat Road), is found in Coleman's 1836 Map of Singapore. The cantonments of the sepoys were moved to this area in May 1823 and continued to remain here till about 1880s. ("Cantonment" refers to a group of lodging assigned to troops)

Sepoy Lines was part of the site of what is now the Singapore General Hospital, built here in 1882. It was also reported in 1843 to be an area where people were killed by man-eating tigers. Sepoy Lane and Avenue exist on the General Hospital grounds. The Sepoy Lines and police station and parade ground are at one end of Outram Road.

Note : "SI PAI POR" is the Hokkien meaning for "Sepoy plain". Sepoy is from the Hindu "SIPAHI" (Soldier)

So now we know that SI PAI POR does not mean Singapore General Hospital but the location in which SGH happens to be located in.

So why can't my grandma or everyone else back then, just use plain language and just refer a hospital as a hospital?
(By the way, the Hokkien or Teochew equivalent for Hospital would be "Low Koon Chu" )

My mum in law offered a clue this evening. People do not like to utter words that are not auspicious and the word "hospital" was not a politically correct word to use if you do not want bad luck to head your way. She said that to tell people that you are going to the hospital is like you are going there to be cut up by the doctors. Hence, people use replacement words to make it sound more pleasant.

So instead of saying I am going to the "LOW KOON CHU", I would rather say I going to "SI PAI POR"

Tiong Bahru Primary School

My thoughts are on my primary school tonight. I guess it has got something to do with the mini gathering my primary school friends has organised for this weekend. Yes! After more than 2 decades, some of us are still in touch!

Here's the history of how my primary school came about and disappear and then re-appear somewhere up north.

Class Photo taken while I was in Primary 4
The photo may be fading but I hope the memories stays

Founded in 1930, Quan Min Primary was the first Chinese School in Tiong Bahru.

Located at 337, Tiong Bahru Road, it had some 30 pupils in five classes in 1949. Headed by founder Liu Jinming, the school engaged six teachers. The school’s board of directors was headed by Liu Murong. The other school in the adjacent Bukit Ho Swee was Jie Gu School, which was founded by Li Qinghu in 1936. After a fire in 1961 which gutted many houses in the areas, Quan Min and Jie Gu was merged to become
Jiemin School.

Tiong Bahru Primary School (Under Construction)
Collection of Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts,
Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore

Now : A Power Station has replaced Tiong Bahru Primary School

Tiong Bahru Primary School (Assembly)
Collection of Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts,
Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore

Some things never change, children still do not pay attention
Collection of Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts,
Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore

My favourite place, The Tuck Shop
Collection of Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts,
Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore

Jiemin School was subsequently renamed Tiong Bahru Primary. Tiong Bahru Primary School closed down in 1990 following a steady decline in its enrolment. The Silat primary school in Jalan Bukit Merah also suffered the same fate. At present, the only surviving primary school in Tiong Bahru is Zhangde School. (Initally known as Chiang Teck School)

Note : (Jiemin Primary School was resurrected in 1985 and is now located in the Yishun area)

Looking at the 1st photo, I now realised that I had been deceived by the adults back then. I was told that my school was previously a morgue. I kinda believe that because our school was quite close to the Singapore General Hospital. While catching tadpoles in a drain behind my school one afternoon, an auntie told my friends and I that the water we were fishing in were water used for washing the dead bodies in a nearby morgue. That was so effective in getting us out of the drain immediately.

Memories are made of these

Sin Hock Heng Street

About 100 hundred years ago, there lived some 30 families in Tiong Bahru area.

The only road passable to bullock carts and rickshaws was then known as Sin Hock Heng Street.

In 1927, the former Singapore Improvement Trust acquired the areas and started to rebuild Sin Hock Heng Street.

When completed, the road was subsequently renamed Tiong Bahru Road.

Tiong Bahru Road ran through the estate from the Singapore General Hospital on one end to the Bukit Merah on the other.

Houses were built on both sides of the road.

Sin Hock Heng Road was the only road where bullock carts and rickshaws could pass when travelling between the city center and Bukit Merah

family album

more on the elusive tuxedo, on your small screen soon...

What was Tiong Bahru like 100 years ago?

Tiong Bahru was largely a swampy area about one hundred years ago. Not long after, Chinese immigrants came to Singapore and many chose to settle down in the area, planting taro as feeds for pigs. Thus the place earned itself a name as “ORH CAI HNG”in Hokkien or taro plantation (In Mandarin : YU CAI YUAN).

Taro Plantation with a pig nearby

Later on the area was generally known as “Four-Pillar Pavilion” (Hokkien : Si Kah Teng) as part of it was once used as a cemetery where it was then a common practice for the rich among the Chinese to erect shelters with four pillars on the graves of their ancestors. The pavilion was used as a shelter against the scorching sun when the descendants of the deceased came to pay their respects during the annual “Qing Ming” festival.

“Tiong” is the Hokkien transliteration of cemetery while in Malay “Bahru” means something new. Together it says the area is a new burial ground compared with an earlier one a stone’s throw away at Heng Shan Ting (a temple), in Silat Road. The Chinese temple was built by the early Hokkien immigrants.

Interesting Exhibition @ Tiong Bahru CC

Sketches, Impressions and Visions of
Tiong Bahru

Tiong Bahru is a place fondly remembered by many Singaporeans for its food and old SIT flats. As one of the earliest mass housing experiments in Singapore and the region, what we see today in the older part of Tiong Bahru is a mixed of graying residents alongside with increasing tourist presence and new yuppy occupancy. Students from the NAFA interior Design/Exhibition and Retail degree programme spent five weeks investigating the past, present and future of this charming neighbourhood which has witness colonialism, imperialism to independence in Singapore. Street sketches, a video documentary, a guide to Art Deco architecture, and proposals for future designs in the Tiong Bahru conservation area were produced as a result of this study. We welcome you to join us in this creative journey through changing times from the perspective of our younger generations

Exhibition Venue
Tiong Bahru Community Club (Reading Corner)
67A Eu Chin Street
Singapore 169715

Exhibition Period
25 August - 26 August 2007

Opening Time
11am - 9pm

Video Presentation
(TBCC Conference Room)
7:30pm, 25 August 2007 (Saturday)

Kent Neo
Location Map

Event is organised by :
Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Department of 3D Design,
NAFA Campus 1, Wing B Room #4-05, 80 Bencoolen Street, Singapore 189655
Tel : +65 6512 4000 Fax : +65 6337 681


联合早报 (Zao Bao)









Dawn 642...

...because it's taken on 6.42 a.m. And it's obviously dawn. And because I can't think of another title.

TV Commercials

This TV commercial was shot at the corner coffeeshop at Block 57 Eng Hoon Street. (Next to the EGGshop)

That coffeeshop was recently taken over by someone new. Needless the say, the whole place had been gutted out and it is now squeaky clean......just like any other coffeeshops in just about anywhere else in Singapore.

........Modern Singapore.....the relentless pursuit to ERASE.......

Tan Tock Seng [AD 1798 - 1850]

Yesterday, I was walking along Outram Road and I decided to check out something which I have been longing to do so. (By the way, Outram Road is at the edge of the Tiong Bahru Estate)

This used to be the road that led to the main entrance of Gongshan primary school. The school has since moved to Tampines and the old school was demolished.

I once competed in an Inter-School basketball tournament in this school compound, though I am not sure which school we competed against. It could have been Havelock Primary School or Redhill Primary School. Anyway, whoever our competitors were that day, my school, Tiong Bahru Primary School, was thrashed. Part of my primary school song contained these words.....we will bring you honour, and glory! I could not utter those words with pride that day and I never played basketball again ever since.....not because my team lost, but because I scored an OWN goal and I was so embarrassed. What a blur sotong I was.

Anyway, the reason why I walked up the slope was because my curiosity won over my usual inertia.

I always knew there was a tomb along Outram Road but never bothered to find out who was buried there. It was someone important for sure. I even speculated that it could be Tan Kim Seng since it is close by to Kim Seng Road. I am so glad that I took the trouble to find out.

Here's my findings :

There are 2 tombs here on Outram Hill. And one of the tomb contains the remains of the founder of Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Mr Tan Tock Seng himself.

The final resting place of Tan Tock Seng

The larger of the 2 tombs found on Outram Hill

Surprisingly, Mr Tan's tomb is the smaller of the two. The bigger and grander one belongs to Tan Tock Seng's daughter-in-law (Chua Xiao Hui). According to fengshui or geomancy, it seems that the location of the bigger tomb is more appropriate for females.

Based on information from
Asia Paranomal Investigators, there used to be 3 graves here but one of them has since been removed. (I urge you to go and check out their website as they have many interesting information which I never knew!)

I must confess, prior to this, I only know that Tan Tock Seng was a successful businessman who is also generous and he setup some hospital for the poor. That's about all that I knew. If your knowledge about this great guy is as shallow as mine, here's the expanded version (ripped from Tan Tock Seng Hospital Website)

Mr Tan Tock Seng was born in Malacca in 1798. He was the third son of an immigrant from Fujian province in China. As a young man full of entrepreneurial drive but no worldly goods, Tan Tock Seng ventured to Singapore to start a small roadside business. He would buy fruits, vegetables and fowl from the countryside and hawk the fresh food in the City.

Hardworking and thrifty, he saved up enough money to open a shop in Boat Quay and proved to be a fine businessman. It was likely that he spoke English and he made his fortune when he entered into some speculation with an English friend, Mr J.H. Whitehead. When Mr Whitehead died in 1846 at age 36, he was buried at Fort Canning and a tombstone was set up bearing this inscription:

"... as a token of affection on the part of a Chinese friend, Tan Tock Seng."

Mr Tan owned large tracts of prime land, including 50 acres at the site of the railway station and another plot stretching from the Padang up to High Street and Tank Road. Other assets were a block of shophouses, an orchard and a nutmeg plantation which he co- owned with a brother. In time, he became an influential Chinese leader and was the first Asian to be made a Justice of the Peace by the Governor. He was skillful at settling feuds among the Chinese.

He was known for his generosity and his most famous gesture was the gift of $5,000 to build the Tan Tock Seng Hospital in 1844. But he also gave widely to other charitable causes, for example, the burial of destitute Chinese, as a proper funeral was important for the Chinese, rich or poor. He was also one of the founders of Singapore's oldest temple, the Thian Hock Keng at Telok Ayer. This became the centre of worship for the Fujian Chinese.

Mr Tan died in 1850 at age 52. An obituary in the Singapore Free Press described him as one of Singapore's "earliest settlers as well as most wealthy inhabitants." The paper also praised his contribution as a Justice of Peace:

"Much of his time was engrossed in acting as arbitrator in disputes between his countrymen, and many a case which would otherwise have afforded a rich harvest to the lawyers, was through his intervention and mediation nipped in the bud."

He left behind his widow Lee Seo Neo, who owned a large coconut estate in Geylang. Like him, she was unstinting in her support of the hospital and paid for a female ward. He also left behind three daughters, who were each bequeathed $36,000 in cash. His three sons, including his eldest Tan Kim Ching, inherited his land parcels.

To put everything in perspective, this tomb existed even before the Tiong Bahru Estate was built!

Another thing I have profited today is a better appreciation for the Outram area. All information pertaining to Outram could be found here : OUTRAM INFO

Vanished People

If we could gaze into the past, we would be able to see this make shift barber shop here. (The picture should show a Malay barber with a small lion's mane....but I cannot find anything from the NET leh).

This original "Express Cut" shop was located just behind my grandma's home. (Now the Link Hotel).

This was where my grandma would send my younger brother and me for our monthly haircut.

I still remember I hated the solution they apply on your skin before shaving it. My skin itched like crazy after that.

Today, the place is just a void and there is nothing there to remind anyone of what existed here before.

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