My Chinatown Home

17 11 2021

The idea of a “Chinatown” in Singapore, in which there is a large ethnic Chinese majority, seems quite a paradox. There due to its historical connection with the first area of settlement established by way of Singapore’s first town plan in 1822 for the incoming Chinese to the newly established trading post, the area could be thought of as the heart of the descendants of the early Chinese immigrants whose connections in Chinatown include its temples, clan associations and other cultural and religious institutions.

While Chinatown today may have its architectural character preserved through the conservation of many of its streets and shophouses, it does have quite a different flavour. Some say that it has morphed from Chinatown into becoming a “China Town” due to the proliferation of businesses and food outlets catering to the new Chinese community (migrants and new citizens who have arrived post-1990). While that may be so, Chinatown is in the heart of many of the old residents of Chinatown, who continually maintain that connection with it in one way or another.

One former resident, Yip Yew Chong has gone a little further, decorating the walls of Chinatown with murals depicting various bits of its past. For Yew Chong, a prolific mural artist who spent his first 14 years living in a shophouse in Sago Lane and who now maintains a studio in the area, the murals provide an opportunity for old residents of Chinatown, including himself and his family to re-live the past. He also hopes the murals, which incidentally have become popular as instagram-mable spots, will allow other visitors to Chinatown and tourists to find out what life in Chinatown was like back in the days when it served as home to him.

Among the murals Yew Chong has painted, is one “My Chinatown Home”, which as the title suggests, depicts he old home in Sago Lane. Here is a video in which he provides a short description of what he has shown in the mural:


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One response

18 11 2021
Constantine Ng

Hello Jerome,Thank you for this post. Your articles are always insightful and thought-provoking!I like to meet up with you to discuss some ideas of heritage work in Singapore or elsewhere. Is this the right email to contact you?Thank you very much.Best wishes,Constantine Ng (mr)Mobile: 97802892 ===============================================

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