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....