Friday, January 18, 2008

Obituary : Lau Teng Mng (1936 - 2008)

Let us take a few moments to mourn the loss of this rare authentic PRE-WAR windows.

These windows were installed during the 1930's when the British built the Tiong Bahru Estate (Singapore's 1st Housing Estate).

It not only survived the World War II bombings, it also witnessed the birth of our young nation.

Despite being a little rusted at some parts of the frame...... due to years of neglect, these windows were still faithfully serving the occupants of the flat......until the flat was sold to someone.

"Too old and outdated!" the new owners must have thought.

"Fifty Dollars, that's all they are worth", said the window installer to me as I was snapping this picture.

"Nonsense!" I protested. "These are priceless!"

Not wanting to give the window installer an opportunity to think that I'm a mental case, I walked off.

But my heart was a little heavy.

Isn't these Tiong Bahru flats conserved in December 2003?

What was really being conserved?

Can we truly find a MINT CONDITION 1936 flat within this estate? I have not seen any so far.

90% of buyers who bought into the Tiong Bahru Estate recently did not buy it because of her historical value. Some do not even know why this place was conserved in the first place!

Some bought it to "FLIP" and make some quick bucks while some bought it to rent it out.......nevermind how many or who will eventually live in it as long as it makes economic sense.


I am beginning to wonder if Tiong Bahru Estate was conserved "wrongly".

After December 2003, there was NO MORE follow up activities.

No one seems to be policing anything at all.

Due to a lack of guidelines, this area seems like a free for all situation and many home owners are constantly testing and pushing the limits.

Perhaps it is because this area is the baby of two statutory board that it became no one's child.

By the time HDB and URA decide who will take total responsibility for this estate, I think not many of these types of PRE-WAR windows will be around by then.


Anonymous said...

Hi Alvin! I totally agree with you! I've been looking for a mint-condition flat in this area for the past year & I'm still looking. I really don't understand why anyone would want to buy a flat in this area without understanding & appreciating its history. I love the old-style tiles, the windows, the doors, the weird layout, the many windows & doors BUT these are usually the first to be destroyed when a flat owner buys a tiong bahru place.... Many agents do not see these as a "selling point".
Anyway, conservation in Singapore is always a facade - preserve the outer but not the inner. Look at clarke quay, chinatown, tanjong pagar, etc...
Cheers, kinksizeshoes

Readymade said...

That's heartbreaking. It really is :( If only there were some way of only letting these flats go only to those who will preserve them as much as possible.

sky said...

i feel sad too - i hope someone in the recycling business will read your blog and decide to pick these up - i'll definitely buy them if i had a home of my own. when i was a teenager, before the "fad", i thought i'd live in tiong bahru when i have the means, but alas, i'm too poor to buy given the current market condition.

Tiong Bahru Gal said...

i love these old grills too. unfortunately my unit was in a really sorry state when we bought it and there was nothing old worth salvaging. i'm an old soul too but seriously, nothing could have been saved.

when the flats across the road were getting prepared for their new rental tenants, the construction team worked so fast that everything was gone before we had the chance to approach them to ask for the grills.

it's now time for us to put up grills because there will soon be a baby in the house. any idea where we can get these lovely old grills?

SGalf said...

Hi Tiong Bahru Gal,

I know what you mean about the sorry state some of these flats are in and some are really in such disrepair that it would cost an arm and an leg just to restore them.

And some of the layouts may not be practical for modern living as well.

I think the best solution for the grills is to get someone to make a replica. The originals grill may be too rusted to be of practical use. Most people just use them as a decorative piece nowadays.