Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to one and all

Christmas in Tiong Bahru, 1951, Children of the Tan family decorating their tree.

Its been a few weeks of mad rush to finish work for all of us I'm sure. So, just a simple post to stoke some feelings of nostalgia, with pictures shared by friends of mine.... of Christmas in Singapore in the 30s and 50s....


Christmas Menu from 1937, when this estate was built.

Apparently there was a Christmas Tree at the entrance to the Government House, today's Istana Negara. This picture is from 1953.

A year earlier in 1952, there was carolling on the City Hall steps, and they had a few hundred sheep join in the voices too. I guess the grass on the Padang afterwards was nicely and naturally trimmed!

And finally, the boys of Boys Town put up a Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the old Great World Amusement Park, just down the road from Tiong Bahru. Great Costumes!

Merry Christmas to one and all!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What were the window frames originally coloured?

A new resident recently posed this query:

Before the last paint scheme of orange, for all the old window frames, what were their 'original' colours?

Today, we have a mix of white and grey - based on residents' preference I guess, and in keeping with the repainting scheme.

Can anyone share their recollections?

The old period B&W photo does not give enough of clues.

Monday, November 23, 2009

APEC visit - voices from the ground...

After reading the mainline media report in the earlier post, here is the view from the ground - from a young Singaporean participant, as extracted from the APEC Voices of the Future Blog:

APEC VOF Day 4: Tiong Bahru Heartlands Tour

By: P4 (Joy Tan Yan Jun, Singapore)

Built in the 1930s, Tiong Bahru Estate is one of the oldest housing estates in Singapore. It was the first project undertaken by the Singapore Improvement Trust, a government body administered by the British colonial authority, to provide for mass public housing in Singapore. The estate consists of about 30 apartment blocks with a total of over 900 units. The apartment blocks are made up of two to five-storey flats and the units are assorted three to five-room apartments.

Although I am a Singaporean, I have to admit that yesterday trip was my first time to the Tiong Bahru heartlands. Before the trip I thought there was not different between the Tiong Bahru and any other heartland in Singapore. Yet, the trip there proved otherwise. It was an eye opening experience to see a part of Singapore that can rarely be seen around the fully developed city state.

Unlike the other newer towns in Singapore, Tiong Bahru heartland, although smack right in the middle of the city, emits a rustic and layback charm. A combination of pre-war art deco house, post-war low-rise HDB flats and modern 20th century high-rise flats can all be found within the area. What makes this more unique is the integration of these distinctive architectures all within a mere distances of five streets apart.

As our foreign delegate friends commented on how they can’t find these historic architectures in their cities anymore, I felt really proud that our government actually chooses to keep a part of our history but conserving these older flats. The fact that they did not allow the pressure of space crunch in Singapore to remove part of Singapore rich and vibrant history taught me the fact that even as we grow and progress in the future, we must still remember and celebrate our past. Just like the Chinese saying, 饮水思原, which means to not forget where the source of our success comes from, I believe that in we must remember our roots and the people who helped and nurtured us to be the person we now are.

As I spoke to a long time resident of the area, I can sense the pride in his eyes as he spoke fondly about his estate and how proud and grateful he was to the government for acknowledging the history in the area and for conserving them so that the future generation and understand and appreciate the lives of their forefathers. It was then I realized that history can bring and connect people together through shared experiences. I believe youth today lack an appreciation of their history and the struggles that the past generations have gone through to secure the peace and prosperity that we now enjoy and take for granted.

Before we, the youth of today, get about making some history of our own, I think that we should take a step back and reflect on the things around us, understand the spirits behind them and twine these spirit into our activities and work. In this way, we can connect with our older generation and at the same time pass on these spirits to our next generation and encourage them to do the same. In this way, I believe that we will be able to achieve another form of sustainable development.

Hear! Hear! Nice to know that the visit made at least a few youths see some value in history....

While the Ladies went on the Wheel... the Youths came to Tiong Bahru..

Now that the APEC whirlwind is over, time to share a happening that took place just over a week ago. The youth of APEC countries, as part of their 'getting to know Singapore' programme, were hosted by Tiong Bahru CC and treated to a walking tour by guides from URA and HDB, of the Pre-War, Post-War and the Boon Tiong SERS blocks, where they enjoyed the view over our estate from the top floor of Block 6A.

It all ended up with a visit to Tiong Bahru Market where they could eat local food with local people.

Here is the report and the video link to the event that day.

APEC youth delegates explore Singapore
By Cheryl Lim, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 12 November 2009 2030 hrs

SINGAPORE: Youth representatives from the APEC economies got the opportunity to experience the lighter side of the APEC Summit on Thursday.

It may be non-stop action in the heart of the city, but in the heartlands, 116 youth delegates from the APEC Voices of the Future Programme got a different experience altogether.

In Tiong Bahru, they viewed the famed pre-war apartments and art deco style architecture of the neighbourhood.

"I discovered Singapore when I came and everyday I rediscover it. A new day, a new expression, a new feeling," said Vladimir Kusch, youth delegate from Russia, APEC Voices of the Future Programme.

The tour also showed them Singapore's achievements in community and town planning, and a better appreciation of the Singaporean lifestyle.

But the day's highlight was a dialogue with film star and philanthropist Jet Li.

The youth delegates came armed with questions, with some seeking advice on how to actively contribute back to society, while others were a little star-struck.

Mr Li said: "The future lies in the hands of the next generation. If we don't work together, generations after will suffer. This is the only way to ensure continuity."

The APEC Voices of the Future Programme allows participants from 21 economies to become youth journalists. They will have the opportunity to interview economic and business leaders, and observe APEC meetings.

- CNA/sc

Another feather in the cap for our well-loved heritage neighbourhood.

More reports to come....

p.s. does anyone know how to get the video report uploaded directly onto this blog page? thanks!

Noise Noise Noise!

What do you do when your neighbours drive you up the wall with noise late at night?

Here's the response from the friendly local Police to a complaint on Guan Chuan Street - so, take note, and use them!

Dear Sir

I refer to your preceding email of XX November 2009.

The Police recognise that noise pollution at night is likely to cause
greater annoyance. As such, for noise pollution complaints at night (
typically between 10.30 p.m. and 7 a.m.) the police officer will attend to the scene.

Therefore you are advised to call the Bukit Merah East Neighbourhood
Police Centre at 1800-2369999 to seek their assistance if the noise created is extremely loud and intolerable. We have informed the Central Police Division to step up frequent police patrol in the vicinity.

Thank you and regards.

Esther Tan
for Quality Service Manager
Singapore Police Force

Don't forget, the email address to send your complaints to formally is:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Singapore in the 1970s... in colour!

Thought to help advertise one of my favourite films of Singapore's recent past - Peter Bogdanovich's interpretation of Paul Theroux's 'SAINT JACK'.

What will you see? Here's some hints:
Singapore River (before it was cleaned up)
Bugis Street (before it was cleaned up)
Ann Siang Road (before it was cleaned up)
Amoy Street (before it was cleaned up)
Orchard Road
Raffles Hotel, and some really interesting aspects of Singapore's history from the 70s that we have forgotten/not told ourselves.

This film was banned in Singapore until only a few years ago. Read more on this part of its history on Ben Slater's Blog.

Its showing on:

THU 26 NOV 2009 7:30pm &

FRI 27 NOV 2009 1:00pm

Gallery Theatre, Basement

National Museum, Stamford Road.

Here is the blurb from our National Museum's event site:

The only American film to be shot entirely on location in Singapore, Saint Jack was completed in secrecy in 1978 and then swiftly banned for nearly three decades. It’s an adaptation of an early novel by Paul Theroux about a middle-aged Italian-American drifter called Jack Flowers (played by Ben Gazzara), hustling a living in the seedier corners of Singapore. Director Peter Bogdanovich and his team set out to tell his story as authentically as possible, and spared no effort in scouting locations and casting locals. What they created was a vivid, colourful document of the swinging Lion City of the ‘70s, capturing the high and low-life, the gangsters, the towkays, the Brits, the Yanks, the good-time girls and boys, the glitzy hotels and the crumbling mansions with immense wit and style. Watching Saint Jack is a chance to return to a forgotten time and a vanished city.

Members of the cast and crew will be present at the screening on Thursday 26 November, 7.30pm, which will be hosted by Ben Slater, author of Kinda Hot: The Making of Saint Jack in Singapore.

Don't forget to join in the mystery tour!


The holiday season is soon upon us, and we are glad to announce two upcoming events at the Tiong Bahru CC this coming December.

19 Dec 2009

Tiong Bahru CC Womens’ Executive Committee presents a fun night of A GO GO.
Tickets at $10.
6.30 to 11 pm. Come dressed in your retro best. Food, Games, Entertainment, Prizes and Dancing!

26 Dec 2009

Jalan Membina RC brings you their annual Christmas Carnival.
1 pm to 5 pm.
Tickets at $5

Do bring your family and friends to both events.
Tickets available at Tiong Bahru CC Counter.
The Tiong Bahru CC is open from 9am to 10pm daily.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New at the Community Centre

After a few months of work, we have finally put up the Tiong Bahru Estate Heritage Wall at the main lobby of the Community Centre.

Looks great doesn’t it?

The content tells the story of how Tiong Bahru SIT Estate came to be, and has some lovely old archival pictures as well as more recent images.

Now when your friends and family visit you and wish to find out more about the history of this estate, you can start them off at the CC!

Opening hours of the Community Centre are from 9 am to 10 pm daily.
The Tiong Bahru Community Centre is located at 67A, Eu Chin Street.

The Heritage Club would like to thank the CC and its Manager for showcasing our history, and for thanks to the members of the Club who put the pictures and design together. To find out more about conservation, do visit URA's website.

Upcoming - the information will be translated into Chinese, Malay and Tamil and also put up on the wall.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Christmas Fair - Support Tiong Bahru CC's Sewing Circle!

A handcrafted bear from the Sewing Circle that I bought a few years back. I just love the ‘Singapore’ fabric. His hands and legs move too!

Some of you might remember Lynda Koh, our local volunteer heroine, who helps with the needy in our area.

Do you know that she also has a long established Sewing Circle, based at our local CC, that produces a whole range of hand sewn goods, lovingly handcrafted by female residents of our neighbourhood? One of them is my neighbor.

Every year, they will sell their products at the Ngee Ann City Christmas Fair. This year’s fair starts this Saturday, and the Sewing Circle stall will be manned from 10 am to 5 pm.

Check it out at the Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza.

What will you get there? Bags, Bears, Quilts and more.

They will be Christmas presents, with a difference! Designed and made in Singapore.

Living culture on our street

A stilt performer playing the role of Monkey - the Heavenly Sage.


Now that the 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar is well underway, I’d better get the posting up for the last procession that was held in our neighbourhood.

Many thanks to Wai Kin for sharing his pictures of the street parade that was held to mark the birthday of the Monkey God whose temple is on Eng Hoon Street.

Such temple parades and performances are a part of the long lasting Southern Chinese folk culture. Recently, China managed to get UNESCO to recognize the Mazu Belief and Customs as Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The temple medium as the Great Heavenly Sage, while in trance. This tradition is explained for the very first time, comprehensively, by Margaret Chan, in her ground breaking book 'Ritual is Theatre, Theatre is Ritual'. Now available at one of my favourite book shops - Select Books at Tanglin Shopping Centre.

A visiting friend from Beijing had not seen such events before back in China, and found it wonderful that we in far away Nanyang had preserved and sustained tradition in a way generally not seen back on the Mainland. See what she shared on her blog.

The devotees carrying the sacred sedan chair where the spirit of the deity is resting. It is said that the chair is lighter than normal when the deity is present in the chair.

The procession passing Chay Yan Street. The big headed doll is not so often seen these days.

By going around the estate, the procession renews the blessings of the deity to the estate. Believers see this as a form of spiritual protection for the estate. Minimally, the dances, dragons, cymbals - would create so much 'noise' - the louder the better - as the 'lau jiat' atmosphere serves to drive away all lurking spiritual baddies.

Perhaps one day, other forms of festivals and folk opera will be equally recognized.

There was another parade recently... posting up soon....

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tiong Bahru (VERTICAL and HORIZONTAL) Challenge

Hey folks!

Ever wanted to take part in a vertical race?

Well, on 13 December, Tiong Bahru will be host to our very own Vertical Race - up a 30 storey block of flats! There is a horizontal element as well - a 5 km run before we huff and puff up the new flats at Boon Tiong Road....

Online registration for the Challenge is available here.

You can also register at the Tiong Bahru CC personally.

Alternatively, a copy of the registration forms can be requested from and payment for registration can be submitted via mail of a crossed cheque and duly completed registration form.

Great prizes to be had! See you at the Challenge!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Birthday of Tai Seng Yah - a.k.a. Monkey God

The flags are up along Tiong Bahru and Tiong Poh Road.... pointing to the up coming birthday of Tai Seng Yah - The Great Heavenly Sage, a.k.a. the Monkey God whose temple is at the corner of Tiong Poh Road and Eng Hoon Street.

Yes, flags along roads are a sure sign of a temple festival in Singapore. These flags have peaches embroidered on them, as they are His favourite fruit (and also the fruit that got him in to trouble with the Jade Emperor and his consort long long long time ago....)

This temple is over 80 years old, and the big birthday, on the 16th day of the 8th Lunar Month, just after Mid Autumn Festival is the major event for the temple.

So, if you want to catch sight, or join in the festivities that is a real local folk festival, do take note of the following schedule of events:

Sunday 4 Oct - 3 pm, commencement of festivities, with lion and dragon dances.
The temple medium may be in attendance.
7pm, Teochew Opera nightly

Monday 5 Oct - afternoon and night, Teochew Opera
8 pm, dinner for temple supporters, lion and dragon dance, auction.

Tuesday 6 Oct - afternoon and night, Teochew Opera

Wednesday 7 Oct - afternoon and night, Teochew Opera

Thursday 8 Oct - 8 pm Getai show

Throughout the days of festivities, there is likely to be visiting troupes of Lion Dances who will come to pay respects (representing other neighbourhood temples) in the afternoon.

To read a good description of the temple in the 50s, check out this link to Dr Leon Comber's pioneering work - 'Chinese Temples of Singapore'.

All in all, its a great event for culture and photo buffs - the opera and dances are a sight to behold. The temple has adherents locally, as well as from Malaysia and Indonesia.

And if you are NOT a fan of Southern Chinese Folk Opera, well, its time to spend a few nights in town... :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mid Autumn is coming soon.....and there is something up for our neighbourhood!

Dear Neighbours and Friends,

Mid Autumn is coming soon, and its time to let the inner child, as well as those who are really still kids - have a chance to have some Mid Autumn fun with REAL LANTERNS - i.e. real candles in real paper lanterns....

This coming Saturday, Seng Poh and Boon Tiong RC jointly brings to Seng Poh Tea Garden, our annual Mid Autum Festival Celebrations....

All kids who attend will get a lantern for a procession around the neighbourhood.... remember when YOU were young and you got your annual lantern for the festival?

If you are somewhat older... we can still try to let you have your lantern too...

There will also be photography for kids who attend...

Tickets available from your local RC member (contacts at the local notice boards) or at the RC at 48 Moh Guan Terrace.

See you there!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Photography for you!

Hello friends and neighbours!

Are you all getting ready for this coming holiday weekend?

If you are a fan of photography, and want to meet up with shutterbug enthusiasts in Tiong Bahru, do consider turning up this coming SUNDAY, for the first get together of the Tiong Bahru Seng Poh Resident's Committee Photography Interest Group Meet!

Seng Poh RC
Ground Floor
Block 48 Moh Guan Terrace
Facing Seng Poh Tea Garden

Spread the word around!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

And now, the Residents Walk a Jog

Some pictures from the recent Walk A Jog that took place at Seng Poh Tea Garden for our residents, organised by the hard working folks at Seng Poh RC.

Good to see young and old, locals and new residents!

More activities coming up.

Will broadcast them soon.

Monday, September 7, 2009

More on the bins.... and the mozzies....

Dear Residents, please find the follow update for your noting from the Town Council. Do try to encourage your neighbours to use the right bins!



NEA's refuse collector had completed distribution of yellow bins last Saturday to all food establishments including confectioneries and small eateries. Their unit numbers were also marked on the bins. These bins were solely their responsibility and for disposal of their trade refuse. I had checked during the last few days and many were found using the bins. They are not suppose to discard their refuse into the round black bins as these are for domestic refuse. We shall refer to NEA if they do not comply. For other trades, I am writing to NEA to provide for them as well.

Meanwhile I had placed more black bins at the back lane. Would appreciate it if you could feedback if certain blocks required more. More were placed at gable-end and corners as these are areas where more rubbish are disposed.

I shall look into the problem at the Roast Meat Shop though there is some improvement and the five-foot way. The five-foot ways are managed by Town Council and the road by LTA. However, cleanliness on road by NEA.

Mosquitoes checks are conducted by both our Town Council Contractor and also NEA once a week. Total 2 from 2 agencies. So far this month there was no breeding found.

Tanjong Pagar Town Council


Dengue Cluster this week is at:

Seng Poh, Lim Liak and Kim Cheng Streets.

Look out!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Have you ordered your bins yet?

Some of you have contacted Mr Soh of the Town Council to order your bins, and some have not.

We are told that notices will be sent out soon to remind folks.

A gentle reminder to do so if you have not, to order your bin - and they should be placed at the back lane.


To discourage residents from dumping their refuse at 5 foot way and shop front, we have worked closely with NEA and ceased putting bins at 5 foot way and shop front. 3 summons were issued by NEA to residents for not disposing their refuse into bins being provided at back lane.

To encourage eating outlets to co-operate with us, new bins will be provided by public waste collector this week to the eating establishemnts in Pre-war estate. To prevent infestation of pest, shop tenants are required to cart their trade refuse in the bin to the bin centre opposite Blk 75 Tiong Poh Road daily.

For residential units, we will respond to any request for provison of bin for disposal of domestic refuse. The bin must be placed at the back lane of their units. Please ask them to contact Eric Soh at 64119418.

Its the 7th Lunar Month!

And its time for the annual Taoist season of taking care of the needs of the dearly departed while they return to Earth for visits.

Its a time for public altars, wayang, dinners, auctions and the burning of offerings.

If you want to find out more about the origins of this season and its celebrations, do check out the upcoming tours organised by the Chinatown Business Association.

More can be found here - through the blog - BULLOCK CART WATER - 牛车水.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Do you want your door and gate painted?

Hello... another neighbourhood service announcement -

if you own a flat in blocks 55- 82, you should have received the following notice - asking if you want your original door/gate to be repainted as part of the current redecoration exercise.

See picture here.

Do remember to respond by 18 August 09.


Friday, August 14, 2009


Dear Neighbours,

if you do not already know, there has been an outbreak of Dengue Fever cases in our neighbourhood.

You can monitor the situation at the following website - DENGUE - - makes it look almost like Dengue is part of our govt departments.... (bad joke).

But jokes aside, do remember the simple tips -

DO NOT have stagnant water around the house that can become breeding ground for the mozzies.

CHANGE water in your vases every 2 days - and...

While the local doctor has advised that the dengue carrying mosquito has a flying range of up to 1km, we should still make sure that our own backyards and frontyards are clean.

Dengue is avoidable if we all play our part in looking after the housekeeping of our neighbourhood.

If you do see places where there are blocked drains or suspicious neglected sites where water may be gathering and mozzies breeding, do call the NEA Hotline at 1800-333-7777.

Take care now everyone!

Monday, August 10, 2009

And now, a view of something old and new...

Walking out to Tiong Bahru Road a couple of days ago, it was really nice to see the effect of the new paint, the old green windows, and the profile and shadow of the old old Sea Almond Tree cast on the facades of the repainted buildings.

Hope that more owners will keep their old windows - the colours really work with each other. And it's charming too.

Also hope that the trees don't get chopped down and upgraded to new ones - the ones we have here have really seen the passage of time in this neighbourhood!

Walk A Jog coming right up!

Happy National Day to one and all... and here is an upcoming event that we can all join with ease - and get to catch up with old neighbours and meet new ones too!

Its the annual Walk-a-Jog.


See you there!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bins Bins Bins - Part 2

And we have here, feedback from a concerned resident for all to consider - who wants better recycling facilities? Thanks to Jason, for taking time to share!

Dear Fellow Residents & Town Council,

With the recent repainting & sprucing of our neighbourhood Tiong Bahru is taking Shape as an interesting Conservation Town. To those who has contributed in this effort, I Thank You personally for organising the rubbish for a start!!. But I have noticed the bins available are really too small & insufficient to cater to the mass amount of rubbish thrown out by the TB residents. Take Block 55 & 56 Eng Hoon St as an example , I have just thrown my daily bag of rubbish this morning at the back alley of 55 & 56 but have also seen piles of gypsum ceiling boards lying around but the 2 rubbish cart was no where to be seen.(assume to be towed to the dump sites for dumping)

We will first have to tackle contractors rubbish which should not be dump at these sites as they will easily fill up the rubbish carts. The problem is also the carts are located at a public areas which makes monitoring undue rubbish dumping difficult. There must be assigned locations with strategic public view to prevent illegal dumping for such purpose and signs that warn about illegal dumping to prevent illegal dumping like those in HDBs areas.

The mere “insufficient and undersize bins” will already contribute to reasons residents rubbish get left behind on convenient locations not meant for rubbish dumping .I am for the idea of recycling and the 3 tiny bins located at the hawkers centre ground floor entrance certainly is not a reflection of the town council strong support in this area. I have made several attempts to deposit plastic bottles and found the bins full or too small to put in Detergent bottles.They ended up on the floor nearby or crowding the bins areas.

We should make conscious effort in making recycling an easy task for resident wanting to participate to this worthy cause by incorporating such bins at convenient Public locations with Large bins and equally large depositing holes to cater to this effort with convenience.

Lets work together to make Tiong Bahru a better place to call “HOME”

Thank You & Regards,

Jason Choo

Blk 56 #02-58

Serving the neighbourhood

A very inspiring model for all of us to look up to, and hopefully, to model ourselves - if you do want to help out in the same area - drop us an email - we will put you in touch with Linda. Every little effort is appreciated.

The Straits Times
Aug 1, 2009
By Melody Zaccheus

For 25 years, Linda Koh has served the needy

CALL her a village chief, of sorts.

Mrs Linda Koh, a spry 71-year-old volunteer, knows the name of every single resident she has been helping for the past 25 years at Tiong Bahru estate.

She can even rattle off their ages, family backgrounds and medical history.

Every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, she packs and delivers food rations to seniors at Blocks 105 and 125 in Kim Tian Road in a Nissan Sunny that her sons gave her.

These days, she sees a growing number of younger people hit by the downturn.

Since June last year, about 40 more people have joined her group needing free rations - most of them young families.

A recent beneficiary is Mrs Zulaiha Abdul Wahab, 33, who was retrenched earlier this year as a factory production operator. She and her odd-job labourer husband often skip meals so that their three children aged five to eight can go to bed fed.
'This is a difficult time for my family. Even as my husband and I look for stable jobs, my children still need to eat.

Here, there's rice, canned food and sometimes Milo that we can rely on, when we run out of milk powder,' she says.

Mrs Koh is particularly moved by the plight of such families.

'I am willing to help these young people out because they are genuinely at their wits' end.

I allow them to join our food queues because I trust them and want to help them.'

Known to Kim Tian residents as 'Hui Tai' (Mrs Koh in Cantonese), she is well-known for her work with senior citizens as a volunteer at Lions Befrienders.

Since most of the seniors at Kim Tian Road live alone and are cooped up in one-room flats all day, she encourages them to socialise at the void decks.

She has even appointed a level representative for each floor of Block 124, and an overall block representative, to help them solve day-to-day difficulties such as buying provisions and running errands for the immobile and taking the sick to the doctor.

'They can keep a lookout for each other when I'm not around and forge a bond through their daily chats,' she says.

Several times a month, she charters a bus to take them to places such as the Singapore Zoo and the Jurong BirdPark, or lunch at the Goodwood Park Hotel.

Mrs Koh's sons fund her volunteer efforts. Dr Hsu Li Fern, 40, is a cardiologist at the National Heart Centre, while Dr Hsu Li Yang, 36, is an infectious diseases specialist at National University Hospital.

Her 80-year-old husband, a former businessman, continues to be supportive of her volunteer work.

She has always been a housewife.

The daughter of a businessman and a housewife, she started volunteering in 1984 when she taught handicraft-making to senior citizens at Tiong Bahru Community Centre.

Her heart went out to them when she found out they survived on meals of salted fish and rice.

She says: 'They needed proper meals and nutrition so I asked my maid to cook for them.'

But the food her maid prepared could serve only 10 elderly folk.

So she recruited 20 housewives to cook at Tiong Bahru and Kim Tian community centres.

'The old folk I met told me that they were waiting for death to come.

I said: 'No, this shouldn't be how you live your golden years',' she recalls.

'They needed to have meaning in their lives and with proper meals, I thought they would have at least something to look forward to a few times a week.'

Since then, she has roped in other meal ration sponsors like Zouk, Bo Tien Welfare Service Association and Tang Gah Beo Temple.

Her friends, as well as kind-hearted individuals who have heard about her efforts, also chip in at times.

Over the past two decades, she has also helped arrange funerals for almost 40 people in the area - including some samsui women and amahs.

She and her group of 10 volunteers, mostly middle-aged working adults, chip in to pay for the funerals.

The free-thinker attributes her giving nature to the example her mother set.

'I was brought up in a middle-class family and I learnt from my mother that it was always a blessing to give and help others, in cash or in kind.

'We're all Singaporeans so we should always try to help the needy. We can start by being friends with them,' she said.

71, and still a volunteer

MRS Linda Koh, 71, has been a volunteer with the community group Lions Befrienders for the past 25 years and chairman of Tiong Bahru Community Centre for 15 years.

The housewife started out in 1984 as a volunteer teaching handicraft skills weekly to senior citizens at Tiong Bahru Community Centre. A year later, she started thrice weekly food drives for the elderly at Kim Tian Road, which has continued until today.

She recently started helping low-income families and young singles affected by the recession. She welcomes them to join her food queue, providing them with free food parcels three times a week at Kim Tian Road and once a month at Jalan Bukit Merah and Punggol.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Some of you would have noticed the issue with the reorganisation of the bins in the neighbourhood. Here is the update from the Town Council:

To discourage residents from dumping their refuse at 5 foot way and shop front, we have worked closely with NEA and ceased putting bins at 5 foot way and shop front. 3 summons were issued by NEA to residents for not disposing their refuse into bins being provided at back lane.

To encourage eating outlets to co-operate with us, new bins will be provided by public waste collector this week to the eating establishemnts in Pre-war estate. To prevent infestation of pest, shop tenants are required to cart their trade refuse in the bin to the bin centre opposite Blk 75 Tiong Poh Road daily.

For residential units, we will respond to any request for provison of bin for disposal of domestic refuse. The bin must be placed at the back lane of their units. Please contact Eric Soh of the Town Council at 64119418 if you need a bin of your own.

Lets all cooperate to make the estate a cleaner and more hygienic place for all of us! Please inform your help, your family, your tenants, about the new arrangement.

And there is nothing like social pressure - it would be good and right if you were to politely remind people you see, who are still leaving the rubbish bags, along the backlanes, that it is not the right thing to do. :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

National Day comes closer and closer

As National Day approaches on 9th August, many physical signs appear in our environment. One sadly overlooked symbol is our national flower, the hybrid orchid that is Vanda Miss Joaquin.

Glad to say that the flower sellers at Tiong Bahru Market have some for sale! This hardy hybrid (how appropriate for Singapore!) is in bloom, and according to the flower stall, only comes on the market in the weeks running up to National Day.

Here is a picture of the flower.

It works really well on the balcony, and in full sun. Which is what we have lots of in Tiong Bahru, during this SW Monsoon Season.

A lovely Red and White orchid, with pink accents, it really is quite apt for our nation as our National Flower. Its origins as a hybrid, discovered by an Armenian lady - Miss Agnes Joaquim, who lived in a Chinese part of Twa Por, that had a Malay area name, is also appropriate for what Singapore is so unique for. That is was described botanically by 'Mad' Ridley of our Botanical Gardens in 1893, is also encouraging, for Ridley was a man who persisted in trying out new things even when few around him believed in the possibilities of success (can you imagine a world without rubber?).

Furthermore, its geographical origin at Tanjong Pagar, not so far from Tiong Bahru, should endear it to us here - half an hour's walk away.