Sunday, November 19, 2006

The New Tiong Bahru Market

Tiong Bahru Market
Seng Poh Road

This 50-year-old stalwart is home to some of the best (and cheapest) hawker food.You'll hear locals wax lyrical about the offerings here, as they travel from every corner of the island to indulge in Tiong Bahru's fine fare. Before its renovation, takeaways were the best way to enjoy Tiong Bahru's food without having to endure its torturous cramped and stuffy quarters.

After a SGD 16.8 mil face-lift, the new and improved Tiong Bahru market opened earlier this year and is almost unrecognisable compared to its old incarnation - a cramped and poorly ventilated one-storey premise. All 83 hawker stalls reside on the second storey of the three-storey centre (the first storey houses the wet market and retail stalls) and there are 1,440 seats, almost three times as many. And while finding a nearby parking spot used to be a nightmare, a roof-top car park now offers 120 lots on location. Old-timers can take comfort in the fact that not everything has changed; all the Tiong Bahru favourites, including chwee kuay, pig's organ soup, pau, fried kway teow and roasted meats, are still keeping the masses happy.

Article Extracted from

Monday, November 13, 2006

Tiong Bahru Market Opens this Saturday


The iconic Tiong Bahru Market reopened for business on 1 June 2006 at its original location after undergoing upgrading works by the National Environment Agency’s Hawker Centres
Upgrading Programme (HUP) at the cost of $17m.
The 2-storey building which exudes an old world charm, has a roof top car park and consolidates three smaller buildings into one, namely the old Tiong Bahru Market, Blk 84 (a block of HDB shops) and 84A (HDB's hawker centre) Lim Liak Street. It is, to date, the largest market to be upgraded under HUP.

Located next to the Tiong Bahru conservation area, the design of the new Tiong Bahru Market draws its inspiration from the art deco-style architecture. The employment of concrete ledges, rounded corner treatment and circular columns all echo the characteristics of such architecture. The facade and massing treatment are also in line with the nearby SIT (Singapore Improvement Trust) flats built in the 1950s. Though the rebuilt market's height has been capped by URA so as to blend in with the flats, NEA still managed to provide a generous expanse of ceiling height in this centre that houses some of Singapore's tastiest hawker treats. Further evidence of the old world charm of this place are the two staircases in the internal courtyard, which had been carefully modeled after the designs found in the SIT flats.
The market layout offers easy access for pedestrians. The centre fronts Seng Poh Road and Lim Liak Street with multiple entry points. Additionally, a newly created pedestrian mall is carved out of the former Kim Cheng Street. A formal entrance foyer, which houses escalators and lifts to the food centre, marks the junction of Seng Poh Road and Lim Liak Street. An existing old tree has also been preserved at this junction.
around a central landscaped courtyard, market stalls are distributed on the 1st storey while cooked food stalls line the peripheries on the 2nd storey. There is easy access between the two levels via two escalators, two lifts and 8 staircases.
naturally ventilated, the market incorporates a new mechanical exhaust system for the cooked food stalls. Columns within the dining areas are expressed like “mushrooms” and the ceiling around them glows at night. Due to the large number of stalls, the dining areas are divided into 3 zones, each having a distinctive colour scheme. There is also an area for al fresco dining, which brings back memories of the old food centre.
rooftop carpark has a total of 119 parking lots and it has direct access to the market via lifts and staircase. The landscaping on the roof has been given a soft touch with plants and trellises. The market also offers conveniences such as ATMs and an AXS machine. Elderly and handicapped-friendly facilities such as escalators and lifts, and toilets are both elderly and disabled-friendly, in addition to having diaper-changing rooms.
revamped market will be declared open by Assoc Prof. Koo Tsai Kee, MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC this Saturday morning. There will be a flea market and live performances at the market from 9am to 12pm to commemorate this special occasion.
~~ The End ~~

Sunday, October 29, 2006





中峇鲁发展于1936年,是英殖民政府兴建的第一批公共住屋,经历了战火,仍然完整地保存下来。 2003年,政府宣布中峇鲁为保留区,它与众不同的建筑外观,它的一砖一瓦,将永久成为我们历史遗产的一部分。





从中峇鲁路转进忠坡路(Tiong Poh Road),包括英云街(Eng Hoon Street)、林烈街(Lim Liak Street)、成保路(Seng Poh Road)、成保巷(Seng Poh Lane)、永发街(Eng Watt Street)、齐贤街(Chay Yan Street)、永锡街(Yong Siak Street)、茂源台(Moh Guan Terrace)、源全街(Guan Chuan Street)、有进街(Eu Chin Street)、金榜路(Kim Pong Road),都构成中峇鲁的命脉。

















Friday, September 8, 2006

Unesco site? Dirty Tiong Bahru's not ready for that

The Electric New Paper :
Unesco site? Dirty Tiong Bahru's not ready for that

LAST Saturday's edition of The New Paper had a two-page spread that delighted an old Tiong Bahru resident like me. The headline was: 'He wants to put Tiong Bahru on world map'.07 September 2006

LAST Saturday's edition of The New Paper had a two-page spread that delighted an old Tiong Bahru resident like me. The headline was: 'He wants to put Tiong Bahru on world map'.

'He' is Dr Kelvin Tan, president of the Singapore Heritage Society. He wants pre-war Tiong Bahru to be declared a Unesco World Heritage Site alongside the likes of the Great Wall of China and India's Taj Mahal.

Wow! That proposition took my breath away when TNP reporter Ng Tze Yong telephoned me on Friday for my view.

Singapore was, but is no longer, a member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. But the expectation is that Singapore will rejoin Unesco. Even if our nation does rejoin, I do not think we should try to get pre-war Tiong Bahru on Unesco's World Heritage list. But if what Dr Tan wishes for does come true, I would be happy - and absolutely astonished!

In Tiong Bahru, there is a pre-war section as well as a post-war section that we oldies of the neighbourhood call the Lim Yew Hock flats. Mr Lim Yew Hock was pre-independence Singapore's second chief minister after Mr David Marshall. The low-rise blocks of flats in the pre-war section, some with street-level shophouses, have a lot of undeniable old-world charm. The architecture is art deco - the 1930s style of rounded outlines and bold colours. The Lim Yew Hock section also has walk-up flats, but these blocks are angular and the shapes standardised.

The pre-war flats have many different configurations. Even long-time residents like me, who moved in before the Japanese occupation of the early 1940s, can be pleasantly surprised when visiting a neighbour, amazed by a very different interior layout.
I live on Tiong Poh Road, in a third-storey three-bedroom flat of 97 sq m. My father bought it in 1967 under the Government's pilot Home Ownership Scheme. The price: $20,250 (repeat: $20,250).

Before we bought it, we paid monthly rent of just over $30.
The 99-year lease will run out in 60 years' time. I will be 128 years old then, assuming I am still alive.

Last Saturday's article in The New Paper quoted me as saying that I would be too ashamed to take a foreign visitor to pre-war Tiong Bahru, charming though its architecture may be.
Some of the streets, Tiong Poh Road included, are messy, there is litter and we see vermin often.

The cleaners work very hard. But obviously, there are not enough litterbins that are big enough.

Some among a transient population do not use the bins, leaving plastic bags of wet and dry rubbish on the sides of streets, even on staircase landings.

People who scavenge for a living take bags out of the bins, open them up, take what they want and leave the rest on the ground.

Cars are parked where they should not be, for instance, near popular eateries in the neighbourhood. The drivers seem to get away scot-free most of the time.

The littering and inconsiderate parking, regretfully, are disturbing signs of declining social values as well as inadequate estate management.

Post-war Tiong Bahru is much cleaner. Pre-war Tiong Bahru, recently declared a conservation area, is trying to tell Singapore: Hey, watch it, we're slipping in some areas when we should not.

The writer is a former editor-in-chief of SPH's English and Malay newspapers division. For feedback, e-mail

Monday, September 4, 2006

He wants to put Tiong Bahru on world map

S'porean says small-town charm makes it valuable, like Great Wall and Angkor Wat
By Ng Tze Yong September 03, 2006

THINK 'Tiong Bahru'. What comes to mind?Probably 'sleepy old estate'. Or great food.

But if Dr Kevin Tan has his way, Tiong Bahru will become Singapore's next top tourist attraction, on par with places like the Great Wall of China and Angkor Wat.
The president of the Singapore Heritage Society wants Tiong Bahru's pre-war flats and shophouses to be listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) is an agency that conserves sites of world cultural and natural heritage.

Unesco's world heritage sites around the world range from national parks like Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia to cities such as Bath and Edinburgh in the UK.

Said Dr Tan: 'While Tiong Bahru may not be as grand as the Great Wall of China, that doesn't mean that it is not as valuable.

'You cannot compare places of heritage. There is only one Great Wall, and there is only one Tiong Bahru.'

A Unesco world heritage site must be 'of outstanding universal value' and meet at least one out of 10 criteria.

One of these is to be 'an outstanding example of a type of building... which illustrates a significant stage in human history'.

Long before the Housing and Development Board (HDB) was formed in 1960, Tiong Bahru was one of Singapore's first experiments in public housing.
'At a time when Singaporeans lived in kampungs, shophouses and attap houses, the Tiong Bahru flats had proper sanitation, electricity, street lighting and proper urban planning,' said Dr Tan.

Public housing is a field in which Singapore now enjoys international recognition.
'Tiong Bahru was an important step in the history of public housing,' he said.

In the old days, Tiong Bahru was known as the 'Hollywood of Singapore'.
'When it was built, it was the only place where Singaporeans could see flats, other than in the movies,' said Madam Geraldene Lowe-Ismail, a heritage guide.

Later on, Tiong Bahru acquired a seedier reputation. Towkays from nearby Chinatown started keeping their mistresses there, and cabaret dancers moved in.

'The nights used to be punctuated by the ruckus of angry wives raiding the flats, looking for their husbands,' said Mr Peter Lim, 68, a writer and media consultant who has lived there since he was 3.

Unlike your usual lego-like HDB blocks, the Tiong Bahru flats were built in the Art Deco style of the 1930s, which emphasised sensuous curves and bold lines.

Corner kopitiams with old marble slab tables and mosaic floor tiles have survived here.
Window grilles with meticulous geometric designs complement the original lime green window panes.

In the evenings, neighbours shout to each other by name from the windows to ask them down for tea.

'Tiong Bahru is a world of its own,' said heritage guide Diana Chua.

Built by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) between the 1930s and 1950s, the Tiong Bahru flats were modelled after British towns like Harlow, Stevenage and Crawley.

Among the 20 blocks of flats and 36 units of shophouses, the tallest are only five stories high.
Although they look the same from the outside, the buildings actually contain apartments of various sizes.

This made Tiong Bahru a community of families of different sizes and social classes.

The URA has gazetted the pre-war SIT flats as a conservation area.

This means that the flats will not be redeveloped and any renovations that change their exterior is disallowed.

Living in Tiong Bahru is charming, certainly. But there is a downside too.

There are no lifts and waste disposal systems here.

'The ceiling leaks and there are cockroaches and rats everywhere,' said Mr Chen, a 60-year-old resident who has lived there all his life.

'I would actually be ashamed of taking a foreign visitor here because it is so messy nowadays,' said Mr Lim.

Indeed, at the heart of the Tiong Bahru debate is the direction of conservation and tourism in Singapore.

Said Dr Tan: 'Tourists are becoming more sophisticated nowadays. They don't come here for attractions like VolcanoLand and Tang Dynasty Village any more.'

Both attractions were multi-million dollar projects that eventually went out of business.

'Tourists are more interested in seeing the true Singaporean way of life,' said Madam Lowe-Ismail.

Like Madam Chua, she supports Dr Tan's dream.

But tourism based on conservation brings with it tough questions.

Doesn't the very act of conserving change a building's character? How much of the old should be kept?

For the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), conservation is a tough balancing act.

Said a URA spokesman: 'The general public who visits a heritage area may find it intrinsically beautiful and not want it to be changed.

'But the local community often wants a better living and a more pro-business working environment.'

While the URA recognises the value of Tiong Bahru, it feels that further study is needed to see how it meets Unesco's criteria.

After all, Tiong Bahru isn't the only option.

Mr Joseph Lo Kean-Kim, the culture and development coordinator at the United Nations Development Programme, believes that Singapore's strength lies more in its multi-ethnic culture.

The Singaporean said: 'A Unesco World Heritage Site does not necessarily have to be a physical site. It can be intangible things like performances and folklore.'

Madam Lowe-Ismail has seen many a Western tourist fall in love with Tiong Bahru at first sight.

'For them, it's like stepping back into old Singapore,' she said.

Added Dr Tan: 'We don't always need to travel to Europe to see history and culture. We have got our own here in our backyard.'
Not part of Unesco, so S'pore can't vote on heritage sites
THERE are 191 countries in Unesco.

Singapore is not one of them, so it cannot nominate any places for a World Heritage Site listing.

In 1986, Singapore left Unesco amidst controversy.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Unesco had called for a 'New World Information Order' to counter what it saw as a growing commercialisation of the mass media and unequal access to information.

But its move was condemned by the US, UK and Singapore as an attempt to destroy the freedom of the press instead.

In 1984, the US withdrew from Unesco in protest. The UK followed suit in 1985, and Singapore a year later.

Unesco underwent reforms in the following years. The UK rejoined in 1997 and the US in 2003.

Singapore has had Observer Status for the past two years, which means it can participate in Unesco activities.

'Observer Status is a way for a country to decide if it wants to be a member state of Unesco,'
Mr Richard Engelharte, the Unesco regional adviser for culture in Asia and the Pacific, told The New Paper in a telephone interview from Bhutan.

'When we talk about intellectual contribution, size does not matter,' he said. 'Singapore is a powerhouse in generating ideas.'

Singapore may consider reapplying for membership at the next UN General Assembly meeting in October next year.

Said Mr Engelharte: 'Singapore has been participating very actively in our workshops and events. The signs of it rejoining Unesco are good.'

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Renovating my Tiong Bahru SIT flat

My wife was tasked to handle all aspect of the renovation. She spotted something she liked in SQUAREOOMS and contacted the interior designer. Jolsen Tan was the one who answered the call and we eventually met up at his office in the charming Arab Street Area.

The following was his proposal
The Proposal

Living Area
Area outside the toilet

Kitchen Area


The final result was quite close to the pictures except for the bedroom, we made him go back to the drawing board a few times. I'm sure Jolson has his own blog to complain about what a difficult customer we were. HaHa.

On a serious note, if you are looking for someone with the experience to renovate a Tiong Bahru SIT flat, I highly recommend Mr Jolsen Tan of Linewerkz. he can be contacted at 98505166.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Straits Times : Celebrating the gems in Tiong Bahru, my home

The Straits Times
July 14, 2006

Celebrating the gems in Tiong Bahru, my home

AFTER five years of working in the conservation division of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), executive architect Kelvin Ang has grown accustomed to being accused of being ignorant or plain callous about the city's heritage.

Building owners and private-sector architects come up to us and complain that we don't care, or they question why we are not conserving this or that district or building - just because they see us as government people.

They could not be more wrong about Mr Ang, however. The 34-year-old lives in a conserved pre-World War II flat in Tiong Bahru. At work, he also lives and breathes heritage, researching buildings and districts for their architectural rarity, and importance to the social history and identity of their locality.

In his spare time, he writes articles on heritage for magazines and records the stories of old residents of conserved areas like his own Tiong Bahru estate.

Now, he is rallying newer residents of the 1930s Art Deco-style blocks to run a newsletter and heritage tour of the housing estate.

In the past few months, about 12 of them have had meetings in his flat and things should get off the ground by later this year, says Mr Ang.

They have also been talking to older and some former residents, who are also keen to get involved, he adds.

Mr Ang's own favourite spots will certainly be on the walking tour: the Tiong Bahru market, which was reopened last month after a $16.8 million facelift, and the famed bird corner which is slated to be reinstated after closing in 2000 for redevelopment.

He also hopes to find volunteers to record the oral histories of older residents in the area, because a place is characterised by its community, he says. As a child, he lived in Queensway but made regular visits to his mother's old home in Chinatown.

This architect believes in looking beyond the bricks and mortar, to celebrate 'everyday culture' - the life in the wet markets and community spaces, and of local festivals.

'I get upset when people say there is nothing to see or do in Singapore. We are so blase about our environment, but there is so much diverse culture and history,' says Mr Ang, who spent six years studying architecture in London.

It is the emotional attachment to a place that increasingly mobile Singaporeans need to feel, he notes.

'One can't love a city in the abstract. It's about where you grew up, where you went to school... It's important that we are still able to see it, touch it.

'Putting on his conservation architect hat, Mr Ang sees no conflict between conservation and progress. 'We've always managed to have the best of both or many worlds here.

That conservation issues stir much debate here is a good thing, he says, as he recalls the uproar over the restoration of Chinatown and the demolition of the old red-brick National Library building in Stamford Road.

The debate is over how to do conservation, not whether we should do it at all. When people make noise, it means they care.'

Sunday, July 2, 2006

Number of Toilets Available

How many toilets are there in these Tiong Bahru Flats?

One and only..... regardless of the size of the unit.

Saturday, July 1, 2006


Click on image for enlarged version

After 1st July 2013, this rule applies across all residential property types.

1) How much of my CPF savings can I withdraw to buy a property with remaining lease of less than 60 years but at least 30 years?
You can use your Ordinary Account savings, and the future monthly CPF contributions in this account to buy the property and/ or to pay the monthly installments of the housing loan up to the applicable Withdrawal Limit (WL).
The applicable WL is set at a level that covers the estimated depreciated value of the property when the member reaches the CPF withdrawal age of 55 years. It is calculated based on the ratio of the remaining lease when the member is 55 years old, to the lease at the point of purchase.
A 35 year old member buys a private property with 50 years of lease remaining. When the member turns 55 years old, the property will have 30 years of lease remaining.Hence, the applicable WL = 30/50 x 100% = 60% of *Valuation Limit
Valuation Limit is the lower of the purchase price or the value of the property at the time of purchase.

For details of applicable WL, please refer to the above table.

No. As the property has a remaining lease of less than 60 years, a lower withdrawal limit will be applicable for your case. Based on the property remaining lease of 59 years and your age of 30 years, you may withdraw up to 58% of the valuation limit for the property. Once this limit is reached, you cannot withdraw more CPF savings for the property.
No. You cannot use your CPF to buy this property as the remaining lease of 30 years will not last you till 80 years old.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Unauthorised Renovations

Over at the Pre-War section of the Tiong Bahru Estate, it is quite common to see unauthorised renovations amongst the residents there.

Before purchasing a Pre-War Tiong Bahru flat, it would be prudent to ask the owner or the seller's agent if there are any unauthorised renovations within the flat.

Some obvious ones that are easily spotted would be the location of the MAIN DOORS for ground floor units. The original Pre-War flats does not have any main door facing the corridor walkways except for a few rare units who has such privileges.

Most main door should be located within the stairways in the buildings. If it is located along the corridor walkway, the owner would be required to shift the door back to its original position before the transaction could be completed. Many a times, this has caused a lot of unnecessary argument over who should pay for the relocation of door and whether or not the owner has to reinstate back the door after the inspection is done.

The other obvious NON APPROVED renovations would be the hacking down of walls in the AIR WELL area. This is especially common amongst the ground floor owners. When these owner sells, they are also required to put back the wall and remove whatever shelters they might have put up to prevent rain from coming in.

Illegal gates are also another thing to look out for. Most gates should be right in front of the main door. But the building design here at Tiong Bahru basically allows owners to cordon off certain segment of the stairs and use it as a personal space. These owners could get away with no complaints because such units are located on the top most floor. No one uses the stairways except the owners themselves. Anyway, most new owners will promptly reinstall these illegal gates. People are basically territorial creatures.

I can only speculate on why there are so many unauthorised renovations around here. It could be because these flats are really old. The enforcement was probably very lax in the past. Monkey see monkey do. If everyone else is doing it, it is probably right. So the owners just keep trying to test the limits. Some unfortunately owners were not even aware that the flat they purchased many years ago contained unauthorised renovations and gets a rude shock only when they try to sell the property.

There was also a period in time where these flats were actually slated for demolition. It may be also be part of the reason why some officials closed one eye when inspecting the place. They never expect the demolition plan to change but it did and the place actually got gazetted as a conservation area in 2003!

Now URA and HDB are managing this area and there are some grey area where both of them cannot decide on who should be responsible. You will definitely have a lot of fun interacting with them when you are renovating your abode.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Types of HDB floorplan layout (88 sqm)

The floor plan above is a typical one for a CORNER 3 room unit. The main difference are the windows found on the side of the units. These windows allow more light and air to come into the flat. Also, if you need more rooms, it is also possible to configure a 3 bedroom layout as opposed to the INTERMEDIATE units.

So the obvious units to go for are the CORNER units. But then again, you must have the patience, determination and a bit of luck to get to buy one of these CORNER units.

The reality is that it is already hard enough to wait for someone here to sell, let alone a CORNER unit. So most of time, buyers eventually compromise.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Where to buy the floor plans?

You can purchase the floor plans with HDB. It will cost you $5 per floor plan.

You can also go to Toa Payoh HDB Hub Level 3 to buy if you need it urgently.

Alternatively, you can go online and purchase it at

Saturday, June 3, 2006

Transacted Prices are NOT TRANSPARENT

There is no official website for you to find out the recent transacted prices for the PRE-WAR section of Tiong Bahru.

This has create much confusion, chaos and stress when buying and selling a property here.

This lack of information, while it punished the ignorant, has rewarded many hardworking and diligent investors.

I wonder when the authorities will make these information public.

For HDB's transacted prices, you can go to to find out last 3 months transacted prices.