Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tan Kim Tian

Kim Tian Road is a street located within the Tiong Bahru Estate.

The buildings along this road are much taller and newer than those found in historic part of Tiong Bahru Estate.

This road is named after Tan Kim Tian.

Tan Kim Tian was born in Malacca and received little formal education when he was young.

He came to Singapore from Malacca in 1847 and joined Paterson Simons & Co as a storekeeper when he was a small boy.

Tan Kim Tian was quick to take advantage of the good times as Singapore was enjoying very good economic growth as her entrepot trade benefitted greatly from the advances made in steam ship technology as well as the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.

Tan Kim Tian learned and mastered the role of a comprador and head storekeeper in Paterson Simons & Co through sheer determination and diligence.

He also taught himself how to read and write English as well as acquired knowledge in costal shipping.

In 1871, he and his son, Tan Beng Wan, set up Tan Kim Tian and Son Steamship Company, the first local Chinese company to build and purchase steamships.

Tan Kim Tian was also the 1st president of the
Tan Si Chong Su temple.

The temple is also known as Po Chiak Keng (保赤宫) as well as Tan Seng Haw, and was constructed between 1876 and 1878. It was built as the ancestral temple of the Tan clan, in the Chinese belief that people with the same surname share a common ancestry.

By the turn of the century, the Tan family was one of the most well known families in Singapore.

Note: Another road bearing Mr Tan’s name, Kim Tian Place, was officially named in 1968.

Source :
Living hell By Chor Boon Goh & Wikipedia

Monday, April 20, 2009

About Awning & Planter Racks

click on image to enlarge

I saw this letter from the Tanjong Pagar Town Council, asking residents to remove their awning and planter racks.

This letter is kinda confusing.

It started off by telling everyone they are doing R&R works (Repair and Redecoration) and they noticed many external awnings and planter boxes that are not properly maintained.

Some of these fixtures are loosen, broken, or rusted to a point that it has become a danger to everyone.

And the Town Council has asked everyone to remove these fixtures by the 30th of April 2009.

If we have anything to clarify, we can call a number provided in the letter.

I’m confused now because I’m not sure if they are ONLY asking owners with such poorly maintained structures to remove them.

Or must everyone who has a fixture comply and remove even the good and well maintained ones?

What about poorly maintained roofs like this one?

I’m not sure how the dead leaves would be cleared as it seems to be there for quite a while already.

And the cracks in the roof may also collect water!

Actually, the problem lies with the disengaged owners in Tiong Bahru Estate.

Owners who take pride in this estate would have ensured that all their fixtures are well maintained.

So the effect of this letter may just achieve the wrong results.

For those disengaged owners, this may be just another (Y)awning exercise.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I've been going in and out of a flat along Tiong Bahru Road the past 1 week.

And you couldn’t have missed the numerous ripe mangos that are just hanging outside the windows.

And I have even joked about how plucking these mangos from the flat could be an extracurricular activity if the tenants do rent the flat.

As usual, it was just that kind of pointless banter and I do not really meant what I said.

But after reading an article in the Straits Times (See Below) about the huge mango harvest in Tampines, I finally took action today.

No! I did not rush down to pluck those mangos!

I merely took my camera to snap some pictures to proof that we also have a mini mango harvest here at the Tiong Bahru Estate.

I think this could be the only mango tree around here and I wonder when the fruits will be harvested by the town council.

(Maybe the tree is not even theirs as some pioneer residents could have planted this tree a few decades ago)

The low hanging fruits are long gone.

There are still plenty to pluck if you have long legs or some device to get them.

However, please note that it is illegal to pluck these fruits and you could be fined!

I know we could buy these off the market but somehow forbidden fruits always seemed to taste a lot better. (Evil Laughter)

And I won’t tell you where this tree could be found. (Evil Laughter again)

You’ve got to guess where the tree is standing from the pictures and I’m sure the resourceful ones will be able to locate it.


Volunteers at the Tampines Street 12 community garden displaying their bountiful harvest. About 300 to 400 mangoes were distributed among residents, who also enjoyed themselves at a carnival yesterday. -- PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

The Straits Times
April 19, 2009

By Shuli Sudderuddin

Mango season hits the streets

Fruit from roadside trees will be harvested for charity; bumper crop due to extended dry weather

While some people are wilting during the current hot, dry spell, it has been 'raining' mangos - from the roadside trees.

So much so that the National Parks Board (NParks) will have a harvest, for the first time, for charity.

Other flowering trees and shrubs have also been lush, but mango trees across the island are 'fruiting particularly heavily this year', said an NParks spokesman.

The mango harvest along Tampines avenues 2 and 4 is said to total 300 to 400 fruits.

This Friday, they will be given to NParks' adopted charity, the Handicaps Welfare Association.

In the 1980s, the Government started planting fruit trees to add variety to the landscape.

There are now close to 25,000 fruit trees such as coconut, mango, jackfruit and rambutan.

NParks said the bumper crop might have been triggered by the extended dry weather earlier this year.

Professor Richard Thomas Corlett of the National University of Singapore's biological sciences department explained: 'Many trees, both wild and cultivated, are flowering and fruiting more this year.

'In most cases, this is a response to the long dry period in January, when rainfall was 80 to 90 per cent below normal.

This has triggered flowering between late March and now in many roadside trees and shrubs.'

He added that plants of the same species need to flower at the same time so that flowers can pollinate one another.

Assistant Professor Shawn Lum of the natural science and science education department of the National Institute of Education said mango trees tend to flower every year at this time, but that drought increases the intensity of the flowering.

There is no consensus on why this is so.

Apart from the roadside trees, those in community gardens are also enjoying an abundant harvest.

In 2005, NParks introduced its 'Community In Bloom' project to encourage and facilitate gardening efforts in housing estates.

Over 300 gardening groups have blossomed since, and the fruits of their labour are plentiful this year.

Said the NParks spokesman: 'Most of the fruit harvest will go to the gardeners, while some will be given to charitable groups, residents' committees and residents' associations.'

Yesterday, residents at Tampines Street 12 celebrated the mango harvest from their community garden with a carnival, at which about 300 to 400 mangos were distributed.

Outside of community gardens, however, the plucking of fruit from roadside trees without permission is an offence which carries a fine of up to $5,000.

But this has not deterred some people from sampling the forbidden fruit.

IT consultant Darwin Lim, 32, lives along Upper East Coast Road, where at least 20 mango trees are flourishing.

He said: 'Sometimes I see people picking them. I think that it's a good thing or all the mangos will go to waste when they fall.'

One resident along Tampines Street 12 was seen plucking mangos from trees with a homemade device - a broom handle with a net on the end.

The 60-year-old retiree, who wanted to be known only as Mr Tan, said: 'I've lived here for 20 years and every year the harvest is wasted. There are so many mangos this year.

What harm does it do if I take just three or four?'

Should you be allowed to pluck fruits growing from trees that are in public areas? Send your comments to

Saturday, April 18, 2009


I was walking around the Tiong Bahru Estate this afternoon when something caught my eye.

There is a metal barrier protruding out from the roofs of the HDB’s flats!

Almost 60 uneventful years has gone by without any incidents and suddenly there is this realization that something has to be done to make it safe for the maintenance people.

So I can only assume that the quality of the maintenance workers has deteriorated to the “blur” standard while those in the past were probably rated “gold”.

But if we do have “blur” workers, having a small barrier there will not help.

We ought to child-proof the entire roof to make it super safe for them.

And to think that people from one or two generations ago could even fly their kites up there without any problems.

I’m just thinking why resources are allocated for these “not so important” barriers while nothing much has been invested on improving the design of the rubbish bin at the Pre-War side.

It is strange that residents don’t seems to get what they want while things that they do not deemed as important are thrown onto their plate.

And by the way, since the metal structure is now the tallest thing on the roof, it will certainly replace the current lightning rods.

I think those living below these structures will have a roaring good time during a thunder storm.

I cannot wait to find out during the next big one.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tiong Bahru Primary School (1959)

Class Photo (1959)
Tiong Bahru Primary School
Photo Courtesy of Assocociate Professor Oh Soon Huat
Click on Picture to Enlarge

Class Photo (1959)
The Back of the Photo
Photo Courtesy of Assocociate Professor Oh Soon Huat

This precious photo came via email this afternoon from Prof Oh.

From his comments made in my previous blog entry Tiong Bahru Primary School, Prof Oh studied at Tiong Bahru Primary School from 1958-1963.

(So this picture must have been taken when he was in Primary 2, at 8 years of age!).

Prof Oh also mentioned he stayed in the Boon Tiong Area till he was around 23 years old and He still visits Tiong Bahru Estate every now and then to eat at the hawker centre and to take in the nostalgic feeling.

And even though I started attending this school about 20 years later, we both remembered the tasty laksa and the wonderful memories we had in this school.

Too bad the school is not longer around!

And I'm missing the laksa and the monkey bar now.

Meanwhile, if you were from Tiong Bahru Primary School and would like to find your long lost classmates, you may be able to locate some of them here : Tiong Bahru Primary School (Facebook)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

For the Sake of our Earth!

Suddenly my world brightens up by many watts tonight!

It seems that the Tanjong Pagar Town Council has started to replace these types of orange glow lamps

to these kind of harsh white lamps:

And the Tiong Bahru sleepy romantic atmosphere that I like

is gone!

I’m not sure if everyone is in agreement with me because my 2-people survey showed me otherwise.

My son who is a little afraid of the dark loves the new level of brightness while my wife remained indifferent.

For me, I only love bright lights when I need to read or study.

Mmmm, since my son loves it so much, I might set up a table at the end of the block for him do his homework there to save on the electrical bills. (Don’t play play okay! Some big time ministers in Singapore used to study under the street lamps.)

But on second thoughts, my son is terribly afraid of lizards and lizards love bright lights because that’s where the flies hang out.

So that may not materialize any time soon.

Now I am also wondering if they will also change the type of lights at the Pre-War side.

Perhaps this “light changing exercise” is a demonstration of our town council’s heartfelt desire to BRIGHTEN up the estate as well as help us do our part in protecting our enviornment.

Watch the following video to understand the logic behind the change: (This is purely my speculation on the changes and I did not verify this with the town council)

So should I be sadly happy or happily sad about these changes?

I cannot decide.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

“Liquid Paper” Culture.

Do you remember there was a time where everyone calls a correction fluid “Liquid Paper”?

Well, I grew up in at the dawn of the liquid paper era back in the 80s.

It was a must have stationary in your pencil case because it was so easy to blot out any mistakes. (And you need to have another bottle of the thinner which always seems to dry up faster than anything else)

As a result, I became rather careless and my written composition paper always seems to have another layer of plasters covering the original paper.

Fortunately I hardly need to write anything nowadays as there is such a thing called the keypad now.

With a keypad, you can easily backspace, spell check or do whatever you could to produce a seemingly flawless piece of work.

So what does Liquid Paper gotta to do with the Tiong Bahru Estate?

I think the Liquid Paper product has produced a generation of careless citizens. (Me included)

It is no longer important to THINK before we ACT as all mistakes can be made right through subsequent troubleshooting or corrections.

So with this in mind, let us revisit the dry riser issue again.

The following sequence is made up entirely by me :

Step 1: Just Do it (anyway and anyhow):

Step 2: Shop Owners Protested

Step 3: Brain storm for possible solutions

Step 4: After 1 month of serious brain storming, Viola! A solution is found!

Step 5: We are happy to listen to and solve all your problems

Do you think there will be anything to complain about if the person sitting up there has thought through the process properly in the 1st place?

What if no one gives a damn?

Those red eye sore might be running across those shops for the next 70 years!

Thankfully the Tiong Bahru Residents do give a damn and they made sure someone get to hear about it and "liquid paper" it.

Other "liquid paper" instances : New "Enhancement" & Here we go again!!!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Nuts about Coconuts

I had a dandy surprise this evening.

My wife was craving for some coffee and so I have to drop her off at the Tiong Bahru Market to get her fix.

She walked back excitedly to tell me that she spotted my favourite childhood coconut candy.

Voom, I was at the second level of the market within 10 seconds.

This is the candy which I craved for from time to time.

I used to buy these candies on my way to school from a book shop that was operated by a husband and wife team.

Back then, they don’t package it in plastics bags. They just placed them in a huge glass container and we just put our hands in to grab the candies.

The bookshop is no longer there, (Who can fight against Popular Bookstore these days) and a coffeeshop that sells Hong Kong foodie is there now.

Bengawan Solo used to sell this type of candy but I think they dropped this product many years ago.

Perhaps I can still buy them at Arab Street or Little India. But since this stall at Tiong Bahru Market is gonna be here for a month or two, I’m gonna have my fill.

Since we are on the coconut topic, I think such devices are fast becoming extinct in Singapore:

Photos from Rheline (Flickr)

Even this picture taken from Reline’s flickr is from Java, Indonesia.

I remembered my parents used to ask me to pop by the provision shop to get them 50 cents worth of grinded coconut.

Sigh, the things I took for granted is either hard to find or has disappeared.

And now the picture is making me crave for some putu mayam!
Er where can I find ‘em hah?

(By the way, there used to be an Putu Mayam man who carried all his stuff on his head and sell these delicious grubs along Kim Cheng Street. How he balanced all those things on top of his head is amazing)