Kampong Amber, Kampong Spirit

IMG_20200422_193616This nostalgic blog is inspired by Prem Singh whose post on 18 April, 2020 was contributed to the Facebook group “On a little street in Singapore” here .

With thanks to Prem Singh to share this blog with our heritage friends.

He wrote: “The unforgettable kampung Amber, demolished in the name of progress, like all other kampungs and wither the kampung spirit …

Situated between East Coast Road and Amber Road. The kampong was sited beside the residences of rich Chinese businessmen. This particular kampong location was famous for hawkers selling mee rebus, nasi lemak and lontong. The kampong residents were mainly Chinese, Indians and Malays.The kampong was demolished in the 70s/80s.

On route to Changi Beach, for picnic, my Dad, on some occasions, would stop his car for my Mum, siblings and me, to buy food. Most times, however, we had food already prepared by Mum, and Dad’s best friend, Darshan Singh, of Alexandra Terrace.

Photo below of my letter on “Kampung Spirit” published in the Straits Times, Forum Section on 24 October, 1997.IMG_20200422_193427There is no doubt that our nation has to equip itself well for the 21st century.

Already the Government far-sighted as usual in its vision of the nation’s goals and achievements has got people talking with its call for foreign talents to be brought in to live and work in Singapore.

It is timely call if our nation wishes to survive in this highly competitive world.

I have no doubt that there are those among us who still dream of the good old kampung days of slow-paced living.It was an era of close bonds of love and friendship between all races.

More significant, there was a true sense of family ties, and family picnicking was the best-loved recreational activity during the weekends and the holidays.

But who says that, with progress or even greater progress, the picnicking has to stop or that the family’s ties must become weaker or that mass friendship has to take a back seat and be a thing of the past?

Many of us have wake-up calls to get us up to face a brand new day.

The government has just given us a wake-up call to face a brand new century.

Make a wrong turning at the crossroads ahead and we will end up bitter and destitute.

This is all the more reason for us to support our Government which has been doing all the excellent navigating.

I appeal to all mass communication networks to do their bit to help steer us to a greater tomorrow, not only for our national economy but for us as one united people.

The networks ought to play a greater role, particularly in bringing back the good old kampung spirit of good neighbourliness, close family ties and that special feeling that we are really one and not divided.

The radio stations ought to have a theme each week, for example “Great neighbours”, “Family values” and “Bridging the generation gap”, during which the public can call in to express its views.

Experts, if available, could also air their views for the benefit of one and all.

And as we progress, we must not forget the less fortunate and the less privileged among us.

Let us guide them to that better tomorrow.

Finally, to the Government, I appeal for a little romantic interlude (kampung style) each year to add more meaning to our joint struggle for greater prosperity for the nation.

The romantic interlude I am thinking of is a new public holiday called “National Family Picnic Day.”

It is not asking too much as we work towards building a better Singapore forever rich in assets, surpluses, social and family values.


Archived photos of Kampong Amber in the past, courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore, NewspaperSG and National Library Board to share on this blog.SQUALOR IN KG. AMBER[Source: The Straits Times, 30 December 1950 Saturday Forum]With the reputation that Kampong Amber has now earned for itself, don’t you think it is time immediate action were taken to remove this cesspool of evil, squalor, dirt, filth and noise from its present position to some rural parts of Singapore, systematically planned, and to preserve this area for progressive and healthy development.

Kampong Amber has no right to exist in its present central position.

I am not a property owner and I have no financial interest whatsoever in this area, but as a citizen I advocate this reform, which is twenty years behind the times. And I can see no reason why property owners should not be allowed to develop their property in this extremely progrssive area.

It is now a year since the Municipal President publicly stated that the Commissioners were working on a plan to remove squatters to suitable areas. No further word has been heard of it since.

ACTION, Singapore

[Note:  Forum letter writers to the Straits Times was allowed to use an anonymous nickname (eg ACTION). Later, the real name of the writer and NRIC No. would only publish his/her letters in the Straits Times].

The reply to ACTION’s forum letter below:

Reply for Kampong Amber  [Source:  Straits Times, 6 January 1951]

As most Kampong Amber dwellers are probably unable to reply in English, I feel a reply is called for to the unwise, intemperate and unfair letter which appeared in last Saturday’s Forum under the heading “Squalor In Kampong Amber,” and which, among other things, commented on and prejudged events which are to form the subject of an inquiry.

In the circumstances, I think it is only fair to mention that a number of people of all races living in the vicinity of this kampong consider that the regrettable outrages which occurred on the roads near only a part of the kampong may have been the work of mobs from other areas.

In addition, it has to be remembered that councillors visited this kampong some months ago and reported that on the whole, it was sanitary and clean – more so than other kampongs they had visited.

BRITON, Singapore

Puan Noor Aishah visit Persekutuan Wanita Singapura Association at Kampong Amber on 26 April, 1962





Photo of unauthorised attap huts at Kampung Amber in 1958


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