A reminder of a world we long have discarded

10 05 2013

A road which featured in the many drives my father took us on to wonderful coastline at the eastern tip of Singapore was Tampines Road. Once Singapore’s longest road, the road is today 5 kilometres shorter than it was, truncated in part by the construction of the Tampines Expressway (TPE) on the eastern end of the road. While much of the road bears little resemblance to the rural road off which the fencing of the northern boundary of the then Paya Lebar International Airport featured, as did many kampongs and fishing ponds, there are still some reminders of the world which except for the airport which is now used by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), has long since vanished.

A peek at a world left behind.

A window into a little piece of Tampines Road which the time seems to have been left behind.

A motor and tyre workshop dominates much of an area where time seems to stand very still.

A motor and tyre workshop dominates much of an area where time seems to stand very still.

One reminder is a little pocket of a more recent past, which seems to lie well forgotten, at what was the 9¾ milestone of the old Tampines Road. Close to where a cluster of huge temple complexes which if memory serves me right started to crop up in the 1970s is, the reminder is a remnant of what once was Hun Yeang Village – the name of which is remembered only by that little bit of Hun Yeang Road which still does exist. The area lining Tampines Road around Hun Yeang Road was where in the 1970s the Hun Yeang Community Centre and the Tampines Veterinary Clinic could also be found, all which have since disappeared, leaving only a rather dilapidated looking row of shophouses from the village’s more recent past behind. The row houses businesses dominated by a tyre and motor workshop, all of which does seem to be wedged in between the past and the present – a reminder of the suburban Singapore of the 1970s that we have discarded.

The row of shophouses at Hun Yeang Road.

The row of shophouses at Hun Yeang Road.

A scene which resembles that of the semi-urban rural world of the 1970s.

A scene which resembles that of the semi-urban rural world of the 1970s.

The area to the left was where the Community Centre once was, and to the right where the vet clinic was.

The area to the left was where the Community Centre once was, and to the right where the vet clinic was.

Interestingly, the man who gave his name to Hun Yeang Road (as well as the village) was Mr Khoo Hun Yeang, a prominent Penang born businessman who lived from 1860 to 1917. Mr Khoo, whose father owned a coconut plantation on the mainland side of Penang, had in his time run the coconut plantation as well as making a name in other businesses. He was also later to join the Opium and Spirit revenue farm in Penang in which his father was a partner in, and later serve as a Managing Partner (from 1899) and Managing Director (from 1902 to 1906) of the Opium and Spirit Farm in Singapore. The farms – which were licenses granted through a tender for the collection of taxes on behalf of the then Straits Settlements government for items on which the government regulated and had a monopoly on, particularly that related to Opium and spirits were highly lucrative. Mr Khoo left the Opium and Spirit Farm in 1906, moving to Kuching (there is also a street in Kuching named after him) where he was involved in the construction business. Mr Khoo’s association with the area came about through his purchase of a 81 ha. fruit and rubber plantation here in 1913. Tragically, Mr Khoo passed away in a motor accident in Medan to which he has gone to to seek medical treatment in 1917 and is buried in Penang.

Truck tyres dominate the scene in front of the row of shophouses.

Truck tyres in front of the row of shophouses.

That time would catch up with what’s left of the former Hun Yeang Village, there is little doubt. But until that happens, this little piece of the past will be one I will hold on to, not so much as a place I have interacted with, but one in which I am reminded of that more familiar and gentler world I grew up in – a world that much as I would like to, I would never be able to return to.

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Images related to Tampines Primary School / Hun Yeang Village provided by hoosiers:

Tampines Primary School Crest / Badge.

Tampines Primary School Crest / Badge.

Members of the Staff, 1968.

Members of the Staff, 1968.

Members of the Staff, 1982.

Members of the Staff, 1982.

This gentleman was our senior assistant then. I got to meet him during this CNY for the first time since 1977 (37 yrs later). Pretty overwhelming..

This gentleman was our senior assistant then.
I got to meet him during this CNY for the first time since 1977 (37 yrs later). Pretty overwhelming..

The mere sight of this turquoise Ford Anglia will strike fear in every pupil of TPS as it means the Senior Assistant cum Discipline Master is around somewhere in the school..

The mere sight of this turquoise Ford Anglia will strike fear in every pupil of TPS as it means the Senior Assistant cum Discipline Master is around somewhere in the school..

TPS2

TPS4

TPS3

Map showing location of Hun Yeang Village.

Map showing location of Hun Yeang Village.

Excursion to Paya Lebar Airport.

Excursion to Paya Lebar Airport.


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20 responses

10 05 2013
hoosiers

Thanks Jerome for that wonderful information on the origins of the name Hun Yeang. Just wonder if he was related to Khoo Seok Wan, the revolutionary, poet cum scholar that was buried at Bukit Brown! Hun Yeang village was certainly a very prosperous and crowded centre in its hey days.

My alma mater, Tampines Primary was located about 2km deeper into the village via Tampines Ave. The school sits on top of a hill amidst the rubber plantations, cow farms and sand quarries. The six years of my life here was easily the best and most memorable. Talk about catching guppys, spiders, plucking fruits from trees, playing goli, hamtam bolah, softball, they all happened right here. I had some wonderful photos of the school which i visited in the early 80s before it was condoned off as a restricted area (in case you are interested).

Majority of my classmates were staying around Hun Yeang village and they were mostly Ongs. I can still remember road names like Lor Tiwu, Lor Rubah, Jln Sam Kongsi, Jln Bumbum Selatan, Jln Song Song . Some of us with surname Peh tend to reside around 8th mile stone at Lor Baling/Lor Halus (also known as Kampong Teban) and 7th mile stone (Lor Teck Hock, Jalan Haji Karim – current defu industrial area). Others stayed further in at Pasir Ris/Jln Simpah and areas near the Tampines Fishing Pond. Coupled with our brothers and sisters all going to the same schooI, I would think somehow, everyone staying along Tampines Road would be connected or related to one another!

Besides schooling, I love to cycle to the highest point of Lorong Halus to watch the planes land and take off in the evening. I can remember everyone single airline by the logos on the plane then! And I can never forget when the concord first landed here and her take offs too. The supersonic sound was distinct and piercing to the ears! Even our fowls, dogs and cats were perturbed!

There is so much to talk about the good old times but i shall leave it here for the time being.

Thanks for the share again…

10 05 2013
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Thanks for sharing all that hoosiers! Didn’t realise you were from the area. I don’t believe that Khoo Hun Yeang and Khoo Seok Wan are closely related. Does seem like you’d had a wonderful time growing up! The photos would certainly be nice to look at – wish I had thought about taking photographs of places before they disappeared back then. I once participated in a hike when I was in the scouts which took me through the area south of Tampines Road, ending up close to Hun Yeang Village before we made our way up to Elias Road and Pasir Ris – was probably the only time I had the opportunity to see the area as it was up close – don’t remember too much except for a mate falling into a cesspool – his buddy refused to share a tent with him that evening!

13 10 2013
Robert Yeap

Hello Friend! I m interested in finding out more of Hun Yeang village, in particular a Sam Kongsi was sited there- does it still exist? Did Khoo Hun Yeang build it? Is the full name of that building the Sam Quay Tong Kongsi?
Hope u can help, m from Penang n researching on this illustrious son of Penang who helped build Spore n straits settlements, thks! Rgds, robertY

18 06 2014
Joseph Ong

Interestingly Sam Kongsi is still there. The road leading all the way to bedok reservoir. can explore but must go through a small bush at the start from the main road.

13 10 2013
Robert Yeap

Hello Hoosiers, i wonder if u can kindly tell me more of Jalan Sam Kongsi; was there a temple or clan house by name Sam Quayle Tong? I suppose the building does not exist now, if u could refer me to the Trustees or anyone connected to it i would b most grateful , thks robertY

10 05 2013
Francis Ang

If no mentioned was made on Old Tampines Road, the pictures can teleport one to any ulu part in Johore. :) Nearby used to be Jalan Ang Siang Kong, and undulating and gravel track which would lead one to Pasir Ris beach of old…of course this road has been erased from the map of Singapore.

10 05 2013
hoosiers

Yeah Francis, I remember this road name too. Indeed all these side roads along Tampines were very dusty, nothing of asphalt. Just wonder if the name sake was due to existence of Chinese temples there (Siang Kong sounds like 仙宫in Hokkien). Incidentally, there was a cinema called 仙宫 Zenith Theatre located on the present day Fortune Park condo too.

I also recalled a amusement park called Golden Palace in the Elias Road area. It has a big pond with paddle boat rentals and some up scale restaurant I think…

30 09 2013
Aik LikesHuat

Thanks Jerome Lim n guys ..
During 1975-1983, I was an ex student at Old Tampines Primary School . Then, I used to bash through the kampong from 8-miles through the provision shop opp then called ‘ Ti Gong Jua” in order to reach my old primary school. There was lots of memory but I failed to get any pictures of the village n school memory. By the way, I believe you still remember the small provision shop at the foot of the hill top where the then old TPS situated. . At Hun Yeang road , there were street hawkers selling char kway teow, sugar juice etc … w few housed tables n chairs. It really nostalgic n great memory to recall n recollect all thiese related pictures and would appreciate if you could share your memory and pictures . Thank you very much

14 10 2013
hoosiers

Hi Aik LikesHuat,
Yes I remembered “Ti Gong Jua”, there was a prominent permanent wayang stage fronting the road. A couple of my classmates stayed deep in the dusty and sandy track then. You mentioned about 8-mile, were you staying there at Kampong Teban too? Guess what? the owner of the old provision shop you mentioned was my classmate’s grandfather! (a pretty grumpy old man in my memory). I was there from 1972-1977 and recently got reconnected with our class of 77 after losing touch for more than 30 years!! if you could provide an email address, would be glad to share some pictures with you.

Hi Robert,
I could only recalled that Jalan Sam Kongsi was also a very long, dusty and sandy road. I also had friends staying deep inside. It could very well end up where Bedok Reservoir is now. I am sure there were temples around then, just that I was too young to remember their names. Sorry that I couldn’t help.

28 02 2014
Quin

Hi Hoosiers,
I used to live in Lor Rubah when I was a kid.
I would like to look at the photos. Could you send to me?

26 04 2014
Quin

Thanks for posting the pictures of Tampines Primary School and map ^_^.

28 02 2014
Robert Yeap

Hi, if anyone remember stories from their parents or grandparents about what Han Yeang Village looks like or any temples or building contributed by Khoo Han Yeang to the community, kindly share with us. I believe the unplanned village arose from the 160 acres of fruit plantation bought by Hun Yeang in 1910 or thereabouts but was ‘dispersed’ upon his death in 1917. Rgds, robertY

9 04 2014
Helen

Hi everyone!
Thanks for your sharing. I was also an ex-student of old Tampines Primary School in 1973 -1979. As a young kid I used to live in Jalan Bumbun Selatan and my parents used to workship in a temple nearby which I was too young to know the temple name. Just not sure is this the temple you guys are taking about, this temple is now named Tampines Chinese Temple and was moved ti Tampines St.21.
Regards,
Helen :)

9 04 2014
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Some photographs related to Hun Yeang Village and Tampines Primary School provided by hoosiers have been added to the post. :)

11 04 2014
hoosiers

Thanks Jerome for putting up the pictures.

Fellow alumni of TPS, Helen and Aik Huat, we might have crossed each other’s path before. Would like to share the news that my class of 77 is organizing a first ever TPS gathering for all her ex-students on 10 Aug 2014. So far some 8 to 9 ex-teachers have been invited and had expressed their interest to attend and we are working to increase that list. Are both of you still in contact with your primary school classmates? Will you be keen to attend? Please help spread the news to your ex-mates too..

Rgds/Hoosiers

22 06 2014
Sabrina Chew

Hi all
I used to live in Jalan Bumbun Selatan. I am a TPS alumni too. But earlier than most of you.

Thanks, Jerome et al for putting up the photos. It brings back so much memories for me. It was easily the happiest time of my life. My brother and 2 sisters are all TPS alumni.

If any one knows any TPS alumni from late 60s to early 70s please drop me a line. I would love to catch up with them.

I still remember Mr Foo in the photo. He used to carry a cane and walk around the school. He striked terror in our hearts back then! Hahaha!

23 06 2014
hoosiers

Hi Sabrina,

Glad that the photos brought back many memories for you.

Guess you should be in the class of 71 or 73.

Please do let me know if you and your siblings are keen to join the TPS Reunion on 10th Aug at the SICC. I am very sure you will be able to see some familiar faces and do some catch up. As of date, more than 10 ex-teachers had also confirmed their attendance. These include Mr Low, Mr Heng, Mr Lean, Mr and Mrs Tng, Ms Lucy Tan, Ms Judy Yeo, Ms Foo, Ms Ong, chinese teachers Mdm Tay, Mr Tan & Mr Lee, We are trying to get Mr Foo on board too. We were targeting about a 100 in strength but the list is still growing..

Rgds/Hoosiers

23 06 2014
Sabrina Chew

Hi Hoosiers

I left TPS in 1972. I have lost touch with all my classmates unfortunately.

If Miss Lucy Tan is who I think she is, I will definitely be there. She was my favourite teacher. She was my P2 form teacher.

My younger sister is from the class of 75. My other sister is from class of 69 and my brother class of 67.

Please advise if there are people who are from these earlier classes of 67, 69 and 72 attending the gathering. Thanks vm.

Cheers,

sab

8 08 2014
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

A message from Alvin who is working with NHB on a heritage trail for Tampines:

“Hi all,

I’m working with the NHB on a heritage trail for Tampines, and I’m looking for anyone with memories of the area to share. Whether it’s stories and recollections of farming era Tampines or HDB era Tampines after the 1970s, I’d be most glad to hear from you.

Memories of local landmarks, shops, farms, personalities, events, history, schools, places of play, kampongs and villages, plantations, wayang stages etc will help us produce a trail truly reflective of the area’s culture.

If you have a memory to share, or if you have an elderly relative who used to stay in Tampines, please send me a message or email at alvin@distilleryfy.com. All memories used for the trail booklet will be credited.”

(see: Facebook Post)

8 09 2014
Jasmine Toh

Hi, Jerome thks for the article. I studied in Tampines Pr School too. It certainly brought back memories…Unfortunately I have lost contact with all my classmates, I am from the class of ’75. I only remembered my primary 3 teacher, Ms Toh who scolded us for not being able to spell. She said the only job left for us is to be the night soil worker. I stayed in Lorong Rubah & used to cycle to Pasir Ris, now I stay at Ellias Road. We used to go to the temples to watch the opera bringing along our own chairs. I always wonder where Lorong Rubah is now? Anyone can share?

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