Water Rationing for Singapore


Photo courtesy of The Straits Times, Singapore Press Holdings


The newspaper headline of The Straits Times on 30 August, 1961.

Water Rationing for Singapore

Two-month drought hits South Johore – river at all-time low

Water will be rationed in Singapore within the next few days to combat the most acute water shortage in the history of the State.

This emergency measure was announced today by the Acting Prime Minister, Dr Toh Chin Chye, after thousands of people had wakened this morning to find themselves
without a single drop of water to drink.

Details of the rationing are still being worked out but Dr Toh has given an assurance that at least 24 hours notice would be given before rationing came into effect.

The whole island would be divided into seven districts, with each district going “dry” once a week, he said.

Radio Singapore, Rediffusion and the Press will announce the latest news on the water situation.

Pressure down

Water pressure in many parts of the island began falling last night. By 8 a.m. today, many factories had closed down temporarily or reduced production.

Big hotels were seriously affected.

Appeals to conserved water were broadcast throughout the day.

Hundreds of householders phoned the City Council, each wanting to know why no water came out of their taps this morning.

Dr Toh gave an assurance that essential services and industries would not be affected by the rationing.

Rationing was now necessary, he said, because the drought which has affected Singapore for the past two months had now spread to Southern Johore.
Singapore’s main source of water – The Tebrau waterworks in Johore – can now only supply an average of 20 million gallons a day. The normal supply was 50 million

Acute shortage

Singapore’s stocks tonight stood at 70 million gallons with another 35 million from the Tebrau, Gunong Pulai and Pontian waterworks.

The daily consumption in Singapore is about 71 million gallons.

Dr Toh said: “Never in the history of Singapore have we experienced such an acute water shortage as we do today.

“There has been a continual increase in water consumption due to the increase in population, but the margin of supply and demand is very small.”
The Government had envisage an improvement in the situation by the end of last month when the expansion programme at Tebrau was completed.

But when extra tanks were finally brought into use four weeks ago, the Tebrau river level fell from six feet to three feet 10 inches.

Today, when newsmen toured the Tebrau waterworks with Dr Toh, the river level was at an all-time low of two feet.

This will be the time since 1941 that water rationing is being introduced here during the peace time.

In 1941, when Singapore was also hit by a drought, only individual houses were singled out for rationing.

Less and less rain has fallen in each succeeding August, since 1958, to give Singapore its gravest water problem in about 150 years.

These figures for the month of Auguest tell the story in a nutshell:

SINGAPORE: 1958 – 10.18 ins; 1959 – 5.81 ins; 1960 – 3.02 ins.; and up to Aug 27 this month 0.94 ins.

At the Tebrau river, water was two feet barely flows over the sluice gates for trapping water, leaving the river-bed beyond it virtually dry.

Throughout Singapore today, hundreds of people went to work without baths or proper breakfasts.

Offices, especially skyscrapers, found themselves without any supply at all.

Hundreds of people lined up at the 2,200 standpip0es to carry water home. From big barrels down to small pans were used to conserve the water trickling from the

Cathay Hotel depended solely on their emergency tank which held only a day’s supply.

‘Ferry service’

Raffles Hotel had water only trickling from their kitchen pipes. The staff of Cockpit Hotel spent the whole morning running a “ferry service” between the hotel and
standpipes in Penang Road and Orchard Road.

The Singapore Steam Laundry closed down temporarily at 10.30 a.m. and will not open for busines again till the water crisis eases.

Most ice-factories were completely laid off, and fishing combines clamoured for ice throughout the day.

The Singapore Cold Storage reported that production was affected in the morning, especially at their dry-ice factory in Bukit Timah.

The supply returned to normal in the afternoon and production is likely to be maintained unless the situation worsens.

Many young Singaporeans born after 1961 have not experienced droughts and water rationing in Singapore.

My pioneer generation friends and I have the nostalgic memories during our young days as triggered by the archived photos as “memory-aids” with the courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore on this blog.

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We remember when Singapore’s taps ran dry for 10 months as posted here .


The Straits Times Forum Page

A selection of letters written by newspaper readers to express their views and opinions on this topic.

“Slogan posters, Television/Radio appeals and threats of water rationing receive no response from the general public.

Why doesn’t the Government pass a Bill to prosecute people for wasting water unnecessarily by cutting off their water supply for a period of time or imposte a fine.

In the meantime, start a campaign to educate the general public to use water only when it is necessary.  The campaign should be given top priority.

A CITIZEN, Singapore 23.  20 May 1971.

WATER: Who is getting the lion’s share?

I am fed up with all this nonsense about water.  Since the beginning of the rationing I and my servants have been very parsimonious.  I pray for rain for my plants and the car.  I do not flush the toilets and spend a fortune on air-fresheners.

I take half-dry showers and have really drastically cut our consumption.  But I look around me: my friends at the consulate enjoy water 24 hours a day; and the hotels.  And no one seems to suffer but myself and my household.

Why build so many flats if the water is not available?  Why not think of the water problem first?

I am a taxpayer and I don’t want to be made a water-martyr and be rationed amongst people who don’t even seem to know there is rationing on.

THIRSTY, Singapore.  7 September 1963.

Curb private pools

We are threatened with water rationing annually due to uncertain and insufficient water supply for our growing needs.

The government is seeking ways and means of controlling the use of water; seeking new sources of supplies; enlarging storage capacities and educating the public to use water sparingly, wisely and to treat it as a precious commodity.

But has it occurred to our authorities that the number of private swimming pools being designed, approved and built has increased in spite of the fact that there are a good number of public pools all over Singapore?

The provision of industrial water for sanitary and other purposes is a good ideas but this means additonal cost for providing separate mains and pipings to be borned by the public.

Why allow the rich to enjoy a private swimming pool at the expense of the general public?

The authorities could at least temporarily discourage the construction of private swimming pools (except those using sea water) until such time when the public will not have to face the threat of water rationing.

This is one practical and simple way to control the use of water to everybody’s benefit.

WATER FOR THOUGHT, Singapore 9.  New Nation, 11 December 1972.

On-off water supply puzzle

I am a tenant of a flat in St. Michael’s Estate and lately my family and I have been subjected to frequent breakdowns in our water supply.

Other tenants however, especially my neighbour whose taps draws water from the same main as mine, have never experienced this difficulty, and their regular water supply is interrupted only by the normal rationing hours enforced by the Public Utilities Board.

I do not understand why I should be the only exception.

I have notified the Water Department of this and all its “roundsmen” do is to unscrew the connection from the main pipe and then fix it back.

After this, water flows through my tap but only to stop again the next day.  Sometimes this continues for two days in succession.

Although I am told that the breakdown could possibly due to a number of reasons – an airlock, low water pressure, choking, etc – I am still at a loss to understand why up to date nothing further in the form of a permanent solution has yet been found by the department concerned.

It now seems certain that for some time to come I will have to continue getting water by means of a rubber hose connected to the main pipe, by-passing the water meter.

Though illegal, I do not care as it would considerably reduce the amount I have to pay on my water bill.

D.M. JANI, Singapore.  The Straits Times, 2 November 1963.

Stampede to buy drums and containers to store water

I note with some concern the arrangements made by the PUB to ration water by cutting off supplies to certain areas for a period of 24 hours at a stretch.

By this very action there has been a stampede by the general public to purchase drums and containers to store water.

The very fact the water rationing has automatically caused an increased rate of consumption.

As an engineer myself, I feel that a solution would be not to cut off water to different areas but to reduce pressure in all areas throughout the dry spell.

This can be done manually by half closing the mains cock to the different zonejs.

By experimenting, it will be possible to ensure that there is adequate pressure to high-rise flats.

It is not necessary for me to elaborate further and I leave it to the PUB Water Engineers to work out the details themselves.

I may add that I own a bungalow and I have reduced the water pressure to the bungalow by half closing the water mains cock in the garden.

BUNGALOW OWNER,  Singapore 20.  Singapore Herald, 15 May 1971.



At every “Water is Precious” exhibition one cannot fail to see – and by mystified by – a king size magic water tap happily and incessantly gushing out precious sparkling water.

In another section of the same exhibition, one sees a profusion of “Do and Don’t” pictures and slogans exhorting people to save water and not to let the tap run freely to waste.

I wonder how one could reconcile the two opposing ideas in one and the same exhibition.

The water tap demonstration actually gives one a false impression of an unlimited water supply rather than water-scarce city which the exhibition purports to bring home to the public.

Anyway it is good fun watching the tap.

P.S. NG, Singapore 3.  The Straits Times, 13 June 1973.

Water Today – Source: TODAY, 28 October 2005


“With the opening up of our reservoirs, I have more options for wakeboarding.  It is exciting to wakeboard in fresh water, which is what I experience at international competitions, and comforting to know that the waters are clean as well.”

2004/2005 Singapore National Wakeboarding Champion Sasha Christian, 12.

Many of us may not know or remember the inconvenience of water rationing.   After all, it happened back in the ’60s when Singapore was hit by droughts.

It’s not that Singapore does not sufer dry spells anymore.  It’s just that we have in place our 4 National Taps Strategy, which ensures enough water to meet our current and futre needs.

Tap 1, or local catchment, refers to water from our reservoirs and drainage system.

Tap 2, refers to the water we import from Malaysia.

Tap 3, or NEWater, is treated used water produced by a complex process of micro-filtration and reverse osmosis.

Tap 4 is the desalinated water derived from converting sea water to fresh water.

Despite this strategy, we cannot be lax about water usage.  That’s why the Singapore Green Plan aims to reduce Singapore’s per capita domestic consumption from 162 to 155 litres per day by 2012.  It hopes to achieve this through initiatives such as the Water Efficient Homes (WEH) Programme, which encourages good water conservation habits, like taking shorter showers, and the use of water-efficient products, like thimbles and cistern water-saving bags.

While encouraging us to conserve and value water, the SGP 2012 also wants us to enjoy it.

Leading this initiative is the Public Utilities Board (PUB).  By opening up some of our reservoirs for leisure activities like wakeboarding and canoeing, PUB hopes Singaporeans will foster a close relationship wih water.  And learn to appreciate it.

This you can do by not littering in our reservoirs and waterways. Or by just making the efforts to use water wisely.

Singapore World Water Day



The young Singaporeans are learning in the schools to get involved in the Singapore World Waterday here .



Lets play our parts to save water.  Water is precious for life.  Please do not waste.

Seniors Take A Shine To New Tech Toys


The first used Palm IIIx Special Edition PDA (above photo) which I bought from a former colleague for $30 over 20 years ago to play with this “toy”.  I did not realise that I became addicted to this “hobby” on a journey of self-discovery to educate me the marvels of communication technology and handheld technology.  It was not just a “toy” only to play games.  There were some PalmOS games (now known as apps) to play on the PDA devices.  I also learned and mastered to write “Graffiti”, an essentially single-stroke shorthand handwriting recognition system used in PDAs based on the PalmOS.

The Palm IIIe is a PDA from Palm Computing released in 1999 briefly after the more expensive and more advanced Palm IIIx.

It shared the same screen as the Palm IIIx, which improved upon the Palm III’s screen by featuring a new enhanced and easier to read LCD. The Palm IIIe had 2MB of RAM, which is the same as the Palm III. It had a 16 MHz Motorola DragonBall EZ CPU, said to be faster and more efficient than the 16 MHz Motorola DragonBall CPU found in all previous Palm models.

The Palm IIIe featured an inverse electroluminescent backlight that illuminated the screen text instead of the screen background. This same feature was found on the Palm IIIx. This feature was an area of controversy as many people disliked it while many others found it to be an improvement.

Later a Special Edition IIIe device was released, which had a translucent clear case.

Here’s a “Retro Palm IIIxe PDA unboxing and teardown” video on YouTube to share here .

I found a 10-year-old newspaper article in The Straits Times published on 30 April 2007 by chance while checking on NewspaperSG resources.  The interview was conducted by journalist Alfred Siew and he then arranged with Stephanie Yeow to take this photo (a memory-aid) a week later to make me remember.


Seniors take a shine to new tech toys
The Straits Times, 30 April 2001

By Alfred Siew

Friends think he is too old for his hobby, and his wife nags him for spending too much time and money on it.

Mr James Seah’s love of personal digital assistants (PDAs) has seen him spend a fortune. The 59-year-old once even worked part-time at a Singtel Hello shop just to get his hands on the latest models. He was a sales promoter, and sold one of the first PDAs that could make phone calls.

“When you put your calls through the speakerphone, you could see how surprised people were to see a ‘talking’ PDA,” he gushed, recalling that period.

The former finance supervisor is among a growing band of silver-haired geeks, who are proving to be as passionate about the latest gizmos as teenagers.

The over-60 seniors with spending power are lapping up the latest PDAs, cellphones and digital cameras.

Some are also wandering everywhere online, joining Internet communities, playing games and connecting with other older netizens.

If they are retired or working part-time, they also have a lot of time to spend on their hobbies.

Mr Seah, for example, was retrenched from his job in 2003 after 28 years, and now works at home on his own business from 6 pm to 10 pm.

He has a daughter who is married and working in Britain, and a son who has completed a polytechnic course and is in national service.
His wife is a retired clerk.

With his children grown up, Mr Seah is able to focus more on his hobby.

The silver-haired tech brigade offers a twist to the typical image of a cellphone-toting teenager or young executive, and its rise in something companies may do well to heed, say experts.

A study by MasterCard last year put computers and mobile phones mong the top five purchases for seniors above 65 in wealthy Asian countries.

All in, this band of consumers in six Asian countries, including Singapore and Japan, will spend US$1,536 billion (S$2,330 billion) on items wuch as travel, cars and computers by 2015, twice more than in 2005. Dr Yuwa Hendrick-Wong, MasterCard’s economic adviser for Asia-Pacific, told The Straits Times.

Dr Yuwa, who published the findings in a book last year, said that in the next 20 years, greying Asian populations will give rise to elderly consumers who will pick up gadgets such as cellphones to stay independent and connected to their families.

Although it is unclear exactly how much seniors in Singapore spend on technology, a visit to Funan the DigitaLife Mall on any weekend shows one thing: Elderly geeks do splurge on tech toys.

Mr Samuel Gan, sales manager at camera retailer John 3:16, said that between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of the purchases at his store were made by seniors.

The 33-year-old said: “Many started on film, but their passion is what drives them to master digital cameras. You have to respect them for that.”

Many seniors who used computers at their jobs were not averse to going digital with their hobbies as well.

Mr Seah, for one, went a step further than using a computer at work. He paid more than $300 for his first Palm IIIe PDA in 2000 to schedule his appointments, and never turned back from tapping on the screen each day.

Today, he has a $1,000 Palm Treo 650 PDA that also let him make phone calls and read e-mail on the go.

He figures that over the years, he has spent thousands of dollars on about a dozen PDAs. He bought some of the older models on the eBay online auction site.

“My wife nags me quite a lot, but it is my only vice,” he said with a grin.

For other seniors, the fascination with technology comes from a need to use it and master all its features.

Remisier Thio Gim Siew, 71, taught himself how to use the free Skype Internet phone service to call one of his two daughters, who is working in the United States.

The service saves him money as it uses the Internet and bypasses more expensive telecom networks.

Said Mr Thio, who is called a “computer freak” at home: “If I do not understand something, I make sure I read the manual and ask my nephew, who is a tech expert, until I understand it.”

He was not always this comfortable with technology.

“I used to be scared to touch a computer because I thought I might damage it, but after accidentally deleting an entire hard disk once, I was okay,” he recalled with a laugh.

Today, he is able to teach his five-year-old grandson and eight-year-old grand-daughter how to use Google and play online games.

He said a lot of seniors do not use technology as much as they should because they are not adventurous.

He said: “At my age, if I can avoid learning stuf that is too complicated, I will avoid it. But if I have to use it, I will learn it because I want to use it.”

With more seniors interested in technology, is it time for a change in attitudes towards this new group of users?

Mr Seah said that when he visits computer shows, he gets the feeling young sales promoters hope he will not approach them.

“They think this old man is going to be troublesome and ask a lot of basic questions,” he said.

Many gadgets are also not friendly to older users, being designed for younger people with sharper eyesight and faster fingers.

Mr Thio said he bought a Motorola Razr V3i phone because it not only plays back his favourite Chinese evergreen MP3 music, but also has a large keypad and an ample screen.

Some phones, he said, come with tiny buttons that are difficult to press and screens with small lettering that he cannot read an SMS message without squinting.

His next purchase will be a PDA phone that will allow him to make Skype calls at free Wi-Fi hotspots around town.

And after he masters that, he will teach his friends how to make free calls as well.

The tech-savvy older crowd may be small today, but it looks likely to expand.

Mr Seah, for example, has a fledgling website called Youngonce.net to bring seniors together to share pictures from their younger days. His aim is to share the joys of trying out new things.

So far, the website has only attracted a dozen or so photos from friends, but he is hoping to make it more easily accessible and attract more users.

He said: “The base of elders is growing, so if you tell me that seniors do not know computers, I do not agree any more.”

Many things concerning communication technology have changed over 20 years and the views and opinions which I expressed in that interview are no longer valid.

As a then young, innocent and foolish guy who was “obsessed” with a new tech toy, a Palm PDA, I spent about 10 years with this “love affair”.  It was a learning experience to experiment with the various Palm PDAs, including the special Apple Newton Message Pad with transparent case which was holding in my hand in the above photo.

The YouTube video of the Apple Newton MessagePad 100 (not the one with transparent case) here.

Many years later as I grew older and mellow with wisdom (I hope), I learnt the lessons on the rapid changes on new tech toys over the decades.  The enthusiasm, the childish passion and excitement when I first bought Palm PDA and held it in my hand;  I thought it was like magic and showed it to all my friends to share with them, just like the kids with a new toy.

Palm PDA is now dead; and the PalmOS (Palm Operating System) is obsolete.

Farewell Palm, thanks to Jeff Hawkins (American founder and inventor of Palm Computing and Handspring) for teaching me how to use, play and learn the “old toys” in the old times.  It was fun while it lasted.  Twenty years is a long time for me to enjoy the Palm.  As with my many former PalmOS friends,  we have to move on and keep with the times to use either Apple iPhone, Samsung or other Android smartphones available in the market today.

Back then, Microsoft’s Pocket PC was seen by many as the evil competitor to the Palm devices. However, Palm’s lack of attention to multimedia and pushing innovation forward, along with Microsoft’s efforts to bring the desktop to your hand, resulted in Microsoft overtaking Palm and eventually Palm using Microsoft’s Windows Mobile OS in its Treo line.

Palm OS eventually went away and they reinvented themselves with webOS. This was a revolutionary mobile operating system and we see signs of it today in Apple’s iOS 7, BlackBerry 10, and more. The problem there was the rather poor quality hardware and limited carrier support. No matter how great the operating system was, not enough people were using it and the slide-out keyboard didn’t give you a quality found in competing devices.

HP then took and killed webOS after its Palm purchase and a great operating system failed after three short years. For those of us who started using Palm Pilots, it is sad to look back and see that Palm is no longer with us when they were the ones who brought us into the mobile world in the first place.

It is inevitable that the many brands of smartphone makers are making better features and product designs at competitive prices to satisfy the demands of the consumers today.

The heap of older smartphones are thrown away (photo below) and there are fewer collection hunters to value them.


A Mind Trip to Old Sembawang


In this closed-up photo, the movie poster of Sultan Theatre was prominently displayed above the corner fruit stall.  The street sign of Chong Pang Road is at the junction of Chong Pang Road and Sembawang Road.

After watching the YouTube video “Old Chong Pang in Sembawang” by Norman  Wong (the link is posted at the bottom of the blog), I was inspired to blog my personal “mind trip” with selected captured screen still photos as a journey taken in my mind alone, a stimulating mental experience.

Chong Pang and Sembawang where I lived for 3 years in mid-1970s have changed vastly beyond recognition from the same familiar places today.  These photos from Norman’s video are the precious “memory-aids” for nostalgia friends of Chong Pang and Sembawang.  Please join me on a “virtual walk down the memories” of our favorite streets of Singapore in the past in the “photo journal blog”.

chong pang road


Did you notice the many “yellow-top taxis” in the photo above?

Sembawang old-timers would remember that the “taxi-pooling pick-up point” for travelling from Sembawang to town and back to Sembawang would board the taxi at another pick-up point in town at Arab Street.  Each passenger paid 80 cents and the maximum of 5 persons in each taxi.  The passenger may alight anywhere along the way and are charged according to the distance they travelled.

Similarly, vacant seats available along the way would pick-up passengers and charged the taxi fare accordingly.  It works as the same way of “pirate taxis” (pah ong chia) system in the past.

Walking Towards Chong Pang



The Chong Pang town center where the villagers gathered usually in the evening for food, shopping or meet friends and neighbors at the shops or “kopitiam” (coffee shops) in the vicinity of Sultan Theatre.

chongpang4sultantheatre2 sultantheatre3

The Watering Holes” of Chong Pan


There were at least 3 or 4 coffee-shops with various food stalls in the area.  I was a regular at the various stalls for meals and the favorite food for chicken rice, laksa, rojak, satay, “char kway teow”, ice kachang and those mentioned by our friends of the “Old Sembawang Naval Base Nostalgic Lane” group on Facebook.  Thanks for their comments to share and add-on to the collective memories of old Sembawang.

Sembawang Outpatient Dispensary


The Sembawang Outpatient Dispensary is located at the Chong Pang kampong, a short distance away from the Sultan Theatre and the town center.

Sometime in 1970, I was deployed to the Sembawang OPD when I was working as a “relief cashier” when the permanent cashier was on annual leave.  It was my first visit to Sembawang and I loved the rural kampong environment, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The village folks I met are friendly, humble and helpful

I was then stationed at the Outpatient Services Headquarters, Ministry of Health at Maxwell Road.


As fate would have it, I found myself to move from my former flat at Jalan Rumah Tinggi, hundreds of miles away from west to the northern parts of Singapore to stay for 3 years in Sembawang; during my young days and was then single.  My room-mate, David and I rented a room in a wooden house at Sembawang 13 1/4 milestone.  The reason for moving house because I had a change of job in town to Woodlands, which was nearer and more convenient to stay in Sembawang at that time.

Pasar Malam at Chong Pang

chongpang10chongpang12chongpang pasar malam at night

The “pasar malam” or “night market” was common in the 1970s and opened in the late afternoon for the roadside open-air stalls at Chong Pang.  All sorts of stuff were available and the prices of these items were cheaper than those sold in the shops.


After moving out of Chong Pang Road and moved towards the left of the fruit stall in the first photo above, I could remember the century-old “Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea” located at the Sembawang main road.  On the left of the church was the post office which I did not have a photo to share.


On the left of the church was the “Canberra Gate”, the main entrance into the Naval Base, where Sembawang Shipyard was located.  Another rig-builder, Bethlehem Shipyard was located inside the Naval Base.

The Sembawang Naval Base was built by the British government during the 1920s and 30s. Opened in 1938, the base was meant to play a significant role in the British Empire’s strategic defences against external threats in the Far East, particularly from Japan. The base was occupied by Japanese forces during World War II but reverted to British control in 1945 when Japan surrendered. With the withdrawal of British forces in the late 1960s, the base was converted in 1968 into a government-linked commercial shipyard known as Sembawang Shipyard Pte Ltd. It is now known as Sembcorp Marine Ltd and forms part of the public-listed group, Sembcorp Industries.

Another side gate (photo below) of the entrance into Naval Base.



The old-fashioned bus-stop inside Naval Base is indeed an unique design which brought nostalgic memories to the heritage fans and former residents of Sembawang.

The “Patio”  in Sembawang

The “patio” was a small lane with several stalls of wooden shacks selling popular food. The stalls were opened in the evening and popular local dishes such as satay, mee goreng, soup kambing, “John Roti” and the “chop suey”, the favorite  Chinese dish which the ANZUK servicemen enjoyed.


The “Patio” was squeezed between a row of shophouses and another row of bars in Sembawang (photos below).  The tables and chairs were spilled out from the lane of the  “patio” and occupied outside the shops.  At nightfall, the place was crowded with many “Ang Moh” servicemen from Australia, New Zealand and UK (ANZUK) before their withdrawal from Singapore in 1968.


Here I end my “mind trip” to share with my Sembawang friends.  There are many interesting stuff about Sembawang which I hope other nostalgia bloggers could tell their stories and share collective memories on their blogs.  Sembawang is not a small place in early Singapore, especially during the colonial days when the Naval Base was the most important dry docks outside of Britain, built by the founder of Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles.

Thanks to Norman Wong for producing the “Old Chong Pang in Sembawang” video clip on Youtube to share here .

He said: “I would like to dedicate this clip to all those who once lived there, I hope this clip brings back some warm & sweet memory to you” and:

This clip will not be possible without the help from the kind following individuals:

From Singapore:

Ms Milo Swang, Ms Karen Lim, Mr Philip Chew, Mr Jerome Lim, Mr Lee Kip Lin, Mr James Seah, Mr Derek Tait, Mr Sean Fransus, Mr Ari Chandren, Mr Vincent Joseph, Ms Belen Tan, Mr Sebastian Phua, Mr Peter Lek, Mr Lawrence Alan Soh, Mr Kamal Abun Serah, Mr Loh Koah Fong;

From New Zealand:

Mr Ingo Wilhelm, Mr Stephen Rosser;

From United Kingdom:

Mr Paul Hockey, Mr Randal McDowell, Mr George Hardington, Mr Dennis N Nor Hardman.

Very special thanks to the following groups:

Old Sembawang Naval Base Nostalgic Lane .

The National Library Board

Memories of Serangoon Gardens

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The Walmer Drive in 1956

“A Walk Through The Old Neighbourhood – Serangoon Gardens” blog was posted by ‘Remember Singapore’ to share here .

Memories of Serangoon Garden Reunion 2017


With thanks to  my heritage friend, Geri, who invited me to the “Memories of Serangoon Gardens Reunion”  at the Serangoon Gardens Country Club on 18 February, 2017.


Serangoon Gardens Reunion 2017 @ Serangoon Gardens Country Club.    Photo courtesy of Carol Marianne Tan-Soh.


The occasion was the 3rd reunion of the “Memories of Serangoon Gardens” Facebook group, which was attended by about 70 people.  The group page was started by Geri in 2012.

It was my first time to the Serangoon Gardens Country Club and I needed some help from Googles to get direction and map guides.




A group photo with Mike, Geri, Danny and Carol at the reunion dinner.

Geri grew up and went to school in Serangoon Gardens in the 1960s and early 1970s.  Mike and Geri left Singapore over 40 years ago and presently live in Canada with their children, grandchildren and immediate families.  They have made numerous trips back in the last 10 years to meet up with relatives, friends and former schoolmates.

They missed their favorite traditional local food and would meet with their “makan kakis” to revive their memories of the familiar taste and smell of the food with which they grew up in Singapore.

Memories of their past trips to Singapore to share on YouTube videos here .

When Serangoon Gardens was a Kampong in the Past

img0061_general view of the village 23061963img0060_general view of the village 23061963img0004_mule cart near serangoon gdn est 1956

Bullock cart near Serangoon Gardens Estates in 1956

img0021_farleigh avenue_1956

Passenger boarding the bus at Farleigh Avenue in 1956

img0036_pm tour serangoon gdn 23061963img0037_pm tour serangoon gdn 23061963img0038_pm tour serangoon gdn 23061963

img018_st peters church 1957

St Peters Church, 1957


“Chomp Chomp” Food Centre –  Then and Now

img0004_chojp chomp signboard 03051972



The archived photos are shared on this blog with the courtesy of the National Archive of Singapore with acknowledgement and thanks.

Singapore – Golden Pearl of the Orient


Jack Douglas hosts “Across The Seven Seas” in 1962 and featured Singapore as the “Golden Pearl of the Orient” video (Part 1 and Part 2) on YouTube to share on this blog.

Part 1 of Singapore – Golden Pearl of Orient here.

Part 2 of Singapore – Golden Pearl of Orient here.







Bahasa Kebangsaan (National language in Malay) conducted in the evening class for adults in the 1960s.




Praying during the 7th lunar month prayers in Chinatown during the ‘Hungry Ghost Festival”. (above)

Prayers to the ancestors at home (below).





Mid-Autumn Festival for children to carry lanterns around the street in the night.



The Tai Tong Moon Cake shop in Chinatown during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

This 55-year-old movie was shared by my heritage friend Maidi Lei on Facebook with thanks.

This is one of the very few English movies produced by Hollywood or Britain for English-speaking audience in the past.  There were very few tourist attractions for Singapore unlike the high-rise skyscrapers and spectacular architectures of the buildings in the West.

Big-screen movies with location shooting in Singapore are welcome as a form of tourist promotion to help to attract tourists from all over the world as revenue earners for our country.

Our pioneer generation friends would remember the old Chinese movies filmed on location in Singapore and Malaya over 50 years ago. When you watched the movies as youngsters and now no longer young to watch the same movies again on YouTube, do you notice the changes of you, of the actors and actresses, of the familiar places, the roads and buildings (some of which have disappeared) in Singapore over the decades. Surreal …

Old Cantonese Movies

Nostalgic sceneries of old Singapore in 馬來亜之戀 ,梛林月 and 唐山阿嫂 .

Please click the names of the old movies in Chinese to watch the videos on YouTube. Thank you.

Anyone remember these old movies and the names of the actors, actresses and what are the changes of these places in Singapore?

Do you agree that watching these old movies as “memory-aids” to revive your memories of old Singapore and how different the physical changes in Singapore to share with our nostalgia friends?

River Hongbao @ Marina Bay 2017


The above photo of the fireworks display at the River Hongbao 2017 at Marina Bay was taken by my Facebook friend FreeMan Loke.  It was captured at the precise moments to show the beauty of the Marina Bay, the colorful and bright fireworks and the background of the Singapore waterfront.  With thanks to Freeman to share this photo on the blog.


After the traditional reunion dinner with the family on 27 January, 2017,  I made the annual “pilgrimage” trip to the River Hongbao 2017 at Marina Bay.

From the spot towards Esplanade Bridge where this photo was taken, there was little sign of the “fairy land” from a short walking distance away, a place where the kids would find enjoyment, excitement and fun, a place for them to build their memories many years later when they are grown up.


Most people look at different perspectives through their eyes of the mind at different times.  I have the tendency to reflect the memories of the past with juxtaposed photos of a similar occasion or events.

Is it true that the River Hongbao iconic events every year is all the same.  Seen once, seen all?

Personally, I do not agree.   Every year’s festival is different just as the 12 zodiac animals is different each year as the themes for the decorations, the designs and the layout of the venue.

The blog posted for River Hongbao 2014 here and River Hongbao 2015 here .  I missed the River Hongbao 2016 because I was in Taiwan.



The above photos of my 8-year-old son, Wei and I visited the River Hongbao 1992 at the Singapore River. The present location for the River Hongbao at The Float @ Marina Bay was built in 2007.  I submitted my blog to the Singapore Memory portal here .


The wedding photo of Wei in 2015 with his wife, Jessie (standing).  His sister, brother-in-law and his niece. (seated).

The former venue of the River Hongbao festivities at the Singapore River before 2007.


Archived photos with the courtesy of The Singapore Press Holdings (SPH).





River Hongbao 2017 @ Marina Bay

Usher in the Year of the Rooster and celebrate the arrival of spring at River Hongbao (RHB) 2017 from 26 Jan to 4 Feb at Singapore’s iconic floating platform. Organized by Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations, Singapore Press Holdings, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Singapore Tourism Board and People’s Association, this annual iconic event has remained an integral part of Singapore’s Lunar New Year celebrations since 1987.

RHB 2017 has lined up 10 days of fun-filled extravaganza of lights, sights, sounds to celebrate this festivity. RHB 2017 will have modern, futuristic elements and a strong local flavor. Larger-than-life lantern displays are colourful and fun, with interesting play on the Chinese word for Rooster. With nightly fireworks and laser displays, intricate handicrafts and crowd-pleasing performances featuring local and exotic programmes from the region, be prepared to treat your senses this coming spring. Satiate your taste buds with more than 40 sumptuous varieties of local and regional delicacies served
at the largest outdoor Food Street in Singapore. A myriad of fringe activities, ranging from amusement rides to carnival games to Main Stage performances, will ensure that there’s never a dull moment at River Hongbao! River Hongbao is open to public and admission is free.  [Source:  http://www.riverhongbao.sg/intro.html]

With thanks to my blogger sister, Lina Koh, to send me additional photos taken by her at the River Hongbao 2017 at Marina Bay to share them on the blog.  Thank  you, Sista!

雄鸡鸣春 生机勃勃
“Looking to the Future”
The Main Set-piece for the Year of the Rooster is based on the theme “雄鸡鸣春,生机勃勃“ which welcomes the new Spring with lots of energy and looks forward to great opportunities.





Abundance and Happiness
On the seating gallery is a grand lantern display featuring a huge mother hen laying golden eggs thus bringing good fortune to an auspicious new year.



春到河畔2017 机会难逢
Welcome to River Hongbao



God of Fortune Lantern



Gateway Arch for Centre Link Bridge



湿地迎春, 万象更新
In Harmony with Our Environment




Abundance for All



The Virtues of Diligence and Learning



A Message of Love, Care and Concern


12 Zodiac



Exhibition Display Panels








The More We Get Toget­her: Festivals and Fe­stivities in Singapor­e

Chinese New Year is an important festival in the Lunar calendar, and is celebrated by Chinese communities all over the world including Singapore. In multi-racial and multi-religious Singapore, festivities observed by fellow communities such as our Muslim friends’ Hari Raya Puasa, our Hindu friends’ Deepavali and our Christian friends’ Christmas are similarly honoured and celebrated.

As a tribute to our multi-cultural heritage, River Hongbao 2017 will showcase “The More We Get Toget­her: Festivals and Festivities in Singapore”. The exhibition of specially curated themes and photographs will feature unique festive preparations, traditional customs and special goodies related to the festivities. Despite coming from different origins, the cultures have intermingled and taken on a uniquely Singaporean identity and shared endearing commonalities.

The exhibition, jointly curated by Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, and students from Chung Cheng High School (Main) and River Valley High School, will enable visitors to better understand how the fabric of Singapore’s multicultural society is strengthened through the co-celebration of these major festivals.


农历新年是华人最重要的传统节日,世界各地举凡有华人的地方,无不热烈庆祝这个节日,在新加坡也不例外。而在我们这个多元种族、多元宗教的国 家,也同样重视其他友族同胞的传统节日,包括回教徒的开斋节、兴都教徒的屠妖节,以及基督教徒的圣诞节等等。

春到河畔2017 的《当我们一同欢庆——新加坡的各大传统节日》 展览,展现了新加坡各族群如何欢庆这些节日,包括独具特色的节日准备工作、传统习 俗和应节美食等等。通过展览,亦能够了解到这些节日虽源自不同的文化,但也因为受到友族文化的相互影响,在欢庆的时候融入共通的元素,而衍生出

此展由晚晴园-孙中山南洋纪念馆,以及立化中学和中正中学(总校)的学生一同策展,通过精心筛选的照片和资料,让访客见证新加坡的不同族群,如 何透过本地各主要节庆活动,不分你我、同欢共庆,借此加深对彼此的认识,从而增进情感联系,形成一道多元、包容、和谐、共荣的美丽风景。

The “Fairy Land” of Games and Kiddie Rides for Fun and Enjoyment



Year of the Rooster Balloons


I wish to be a child again and bring home one of these rooster ballons to play with 🙂

Come Home for Reunion Dinner

This incidental blog is inspired by this Chinese song “Come home for dinner”   《回家吃飯》.

This is a heart-warming touching song of the singer and composer of the song.  He lives in Beijing for 13 years and have not returned home for the traditional Chinese reunion dinner.

Reproduced this 36-year-old article “Time to cast off this dinner hang-up in plain words” by Turtle in New Nation, 8 February 1981.

It is odd how some Chinese New Year customs have changed with time – and how some haven’t, even though the premises on which they were based no longer apply.

I am thinking here of the Chinese New Year’s eve reunion dinner, which still holds a central place in most families’ celebrations, and long may it do so.

To sit down with one’s parents and grown up brothers and sisters is a reminder of the original family from which we came – and to which we turn in times of the greatest travail (death of a spouse or child) and need (including a loan of money).

Dislike a brother though we may, little though we have in common with the sixth or second child of mother’s large brood, it is hard to deny one of them when he or she asks for help – and the reunion dinner renews the adhesive that binds the whole, which, in these days, may not stick together as well as it used to.

But while there is no notion of scrapping the reunion dinner, we should now re-examine a central tenet – that married women must eat it with their husbands’ parents.

The origins of this idea lay in the traditional concept of woman as chattel.  Once she married, she was considered to have left her family and to “belong” to her husband’s side.  Her parents had no more claim to her.

Today it is still de riguer that a married woman eat her reunion dinner with her in-laws.  This is well and good if that is where she wants to be, if there is no rival tug on her heartstrings.  Indeed, some traditional parents would not dream of having their daughters over.

But there are parents who do – and indeed why shouldn’t they, even if there are unmarried children and married sons to keep them company.

The situation is specially felt when a family comprises, besides the old folk, only married daughters.

These “underprivileged” parents would very likely have to eat on their own, come New Year’s eve.   On the other hand, daughters sit down to a meal with in-laws whom they may like well enough – but seldom, if ever, are they as dear as one’s own parents.

In the face of the two-child family norm preached, more and more parents are going to end up eating reunion dinners on their own – because both children will be girls.

This cardinal tenet of Chinese New Year is today based on an unacceptable premise:  woman’s lesser importance therefore she goes where her husband goes.

It is also blind to the fact that in many, if not most families, a daughter is a daughter forever – but a son is lost when he marries, his drift is to his wife’s side.

This is the very opposite of the popular belief, but a daughter, as many traditional-minded parents have discovered, is more regular in her visits, tenderer and more concerned about the old folks than a son.  When, as if often the case, her mother helps mind the children, the bond is even stronger.

So many characteristics of the reunion dinner have changed.

Some families now go out to a restaurant.  If it is a home-cooked meal, the menu is a simplified version of the traditional one because few have the time or inclination to cook the old dishes.

Some even go away during the festive season, preferring to spend their precious leave elsewhere to visiting relatives.

For practical reasons, others cannot return home.  I remember, as a student away from home, failing to get a ticket back for that all-important occasion.  I spent reunion night with other students, whopping it up in a restaurant, none the lonelier for the experience.

If these variations are possible, why do we hang on, when the reigning spirit is family togetherness, to a practice which disregards the feelings of so many?

One solution is for couples to eat the main meal with the husband’s parents, and finish off  at her parents’ place – or the other way around.

Another alternative is for a couple to alternate reunion dinners with both sets of parents.  This means for one year they eat with the husband’s family; the next with the wife’s parents.

A little flexibility can work wonders – if you want everyone to start the New Year happy.

[Source: NewspaperSG of the National Library Board].

Another video to share the chefs working at restaurants and had to miss the reunion dinners at home with their famililes.

Although most ethnic Chinese outside of China, including Singaporean Chinese in multi-racial Singapore, the traditional once-a-year practice to celebrate the Chinese New Year reunion dinner, it is an important family gathering to set a priority for everyone.

However, there are some personal unforeseen circumstances when a few of the members of the family had to be missed from the reunion dinners.  For instance, the children overseas to work on that day, the elders who are sick and disabled, family financial situation and tight family budget. It does not need to celebrate a grand annual reunion dinner.  A simple dinner together with everyone in the family is a happy, meaningful reunion dinner to enjoy.

Please watch a sentimental reunion dinner video-clip, courtesy of James Low here .


Whether the rich (above) or the poor (below), the Chinese New Year reunion dinner are celebrated by every family once a year. [Archived photos with courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore to acknowledge and thanks to share on the blog].