Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Singapore 50 years ago

Thursday, 31 December 1964. New Year's Eve. Singapore had joined Malaya for about a year but things were tense. Racial riots broke out in July and it marred the tranquility of Singapore. (1) But music calms the savage beast. It was the year that the Beatles song "I want to hold your hands" topped the music charts both the young and the young at heart sang to the tunes to cast aside their worries. (2)

So what was the people's sentiments and feeling like on New Year's Eve 50 years ago. I'll put myself up as The Straits Times reader and let's see what stories in the newspaper that catch my attention and how it would all pan out in my mind. 

What is Indonesia doing? Why are they making hell for us?  They and their Konfrontasi. Luckily the Malaysian Federal government was quick enough to apprehend these crooks before they landed in Perak. If not, lives would have been lost and they even make their way down to Singapore. Sigh.

This new tax by the Federal Government - The Turnover and Payroll Tax - Will affect us, the commoners. Wondering what percentage are they planning to tax us? Aiya. What to do? This is beyond our control.

In other news, there're also mentions about the war in Vietnam and the capture of communists in India. Wah, why does it look like the whole world is at war? This is so saddening.

The Magnolia advertisement is so enticing. But it's still more expensive than my roadside ice cream stall. Need to look for coins so that I can buy myself an ice ball later. Haahaa. Ok, back to serious news.

This is craziness!!! They Congo rebels really ate the flesh of their captives? Horrendous! Seriously, I'm not even into Page three and the newspaper is just filled with all these blood and gore!

More sensational story - Sunny Ang. He got re-arrested one hour after the judge had given him a discharge not amounting to acquittal. This guy was alleged to have deliberately caused his girlfriend to drown off the water of Sister's island. He had bought large amount of insurance under her name and had wanted to claim the insurance money. Failed commercial pilot, Race car driver, part-time law student; Such a waste of talent. (3)

Ok, let's see what movies we can catch on New Year's Day. There's this "My Fair Lady" voted Best Picture of the Year. Think the music's great! It will cost me $4 if I take a circle seat, or $2.50 if I take the stalls seat. Never mind lah, I'll ask my friends what they'll like to watch and we can decide again. Just that we have to get in queue early tomorrow morning.(4)

Oh my goodness! Elaine Delmar is performing here? What a great end to the year just to hear her sing. This will be held at Goodwood's Arundel Room. Wonder what's the cover charge like to hear her perform. (5)

The listing of aircraft arriving and departing to and from Paya Lebar Airport. Arriving aircraft include BOAC, Qantas, Pan-American, Air Ceylon, Japan Air Lines, Malayan Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways and British Eagle Airways. The Departing aircraft include most of those listed in the arrival plus Royal Air Cambodge. Not many visitors to Singapore huh?

Wah lau eh! Government earning money again. Radio and TV licences will be raised by another $12 per year. They really makan duit (Money) man!

Oh man, I really think this car is cool. Look at the seats and also the new front grille! The ride is rather expensive though but at least the government has not thrown in all those crazy taxes ala tv and radio! (6)

Last page of the newspaper. I tell you, the Malaysian government and Singapore just cannot get along with each other. The Malaysian government is asking to close Bank of China because its deemed as a Communist supporter. But Singapore said that this would be hypocritical as Malaysia is still trading with other Communist countries, such as Russia. Ya loh. How is the Malaysian Finance Minister going to justify closing Bank of China?

Hai ya. I just wish the New Year will be a better year than this year. Ditto!


1. Days of rage. 1964 race riots.

2. The Beatles. I want to hold your hand. Retrieved on December 30, 2014.

3. The Sunny Ang murder case. The Singapore Infopedia. Retrieved on December 31, 2014.

4. My Fair Lady (1964). Retrieved on December 31, 1964.

5. Elaine Dalmar. Alone Again. Retrieved on December 31, 2014.

6. 1965 122S Wagon. Retrieved on December 31, 2014.

7. The Straits Times. December 31, 1964. NewspaperSG. Retrieved on December 31, 2014.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Singapore Air Force: 10 Interesting Facts

I've just finished reading the book "Full Spectrum Force" and the author Mr Goh Yong Kiat has truly put together an interesting book that captures every aircraft that Singapore has, both past and present. A number of these aircraft can also be seen at the Air Force Museum.

Well, I thought that it would be good to pull together 10 interesting facts about RSAF that are seldom heard. So here goes.

1. In September 1968, the Singapore Air Defence Command (Currently known as The Republic of Singapore Air Force) was formed. Singapore had no choice but to set up its own air force as the republic was no longer a part of Malaysia. At the same time, the British had declared that they will be pulling out all its forces by 1971. (1)

2. The first aircraft that came under the "wings" of SADC were a pair of Cessna 172H that was acquired in September 1968. Nicknamed the AF100, the aircraft was sold off in 1979. (2)

3.The helicopter that SADC purchased were the Aeroespatiale SA316B Alouette III. Operating under 120 Squadron, the helicopters participated in the first ever National Day flypast in 1970. The lead helicopter was flying the national flag. The helicopters were retired from service in 1978. (3)

4. The cutest transport aircraft has to be the Short Skyvan 3M. The aircraft is also known as the flying coffin. (4)

5. The most reliable and longest serving aircraft is the Lockheed C-130.

6. There were four aircraft that Singapore had in possession but did not proceed to purchase more of these platforms:- EC-47P, Meteor F.8, Sea Vixen FAW.2 and a Hunter F.4. In 1979, all these aircraft were donated to Sentosa as static display. They were later disposed of in January 1989. (5)

7. Singapore's first tandem-seat trainer aircraft was BAC Strikemaster MK.84 in 1969.

8. The Hawker Hunter was Singapore's first jet fighter. The aircraft arrived in 1970 and was based in Tengah Air Base. (6)


9. The Northrop F5 was the first supersonic fighter to be in service with the air force. The aircraft arrived in 1979. The aircraft is also the longest serving fighter aircraft as its still currently in service. (7)

10. Singapore most advanced fighter, the Boeing F15SG is based at Paya Lebar Airbase (8)


RSAF Museum
400 Airport Road
Singapore 534234

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Sunday 8.30am to 5.00pm (Closed on Monday & Public Holidays)

How to get there 
Buses: SBS 90 and 94 (SBS 94 not available on Sunday)


1. Goh, Y.K. 2014. Full Spectrum Force: Aircraft of the Republic of Singapore Air Force. 9VSPOTTER: Singapore.  P9

2. ibid. P28

3. ibid. P36

4. ibid. P56

5. ibid. P58

6. ibid. P61

6. ibid. P82

7. ibid. P94

8. ibid. P106

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Singapura: 700 Years

The National Museum has recently taken some flak for typo errors seen on their exhibition boards. (1) The new exhibition - Singapura: 700 Years brings together archeological finds from as early as the 1920s till recent. 

A large number of historical findings in Singapore can be found in this definitive book - Early Singapore 1300s - 1819. Published in 2004, the book brings together papers written by Singapore history scholars. It goes out to prove that Singapore was not a sleepy village before pre-Raffles.

Through various excavations, gold ornaments, glass sheds and vessels, and Chinese bowls have been found. All these are shown in this book and the current exhibition is based largely on the findings.

As early as 1320, it was said that a prominent place in Singapore was mentioned in the Yuan Dynasty's record, the "Yuan-Shih". The unique stone feature that  was then known as "Long ya-men" Or Dragon's tooth gate.

In 1349, a Chinese businessman named Wang Da Yuan was said to have visited Singapore. So with all these factors coming into play, Singapore was not just an island.

There were also maps to show that Singapore was a known island before Sir Stamford Raffles. The map above was taken from a section of Captain J. Lindsey's 1798 "The South part of the Straits of Malacca". (2)

Interestingly, the map also shows other nearby island such as Salat Booro (Pulau Ubin?), Tooly (Pulau Blakang Mati), and Pedra Branca.


1. Zaccheus, M. December 1, 2014. Showcase of S'pore marred by typo, errors. The Straits Times.

2. Miksic, J. & Low, C. M. G. 2004. Early Singapore 1300s - 1819. Singapore History Museum: Singapore. P96.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

[Singapore Parks] Fort Tanjong Katong

When we mention the word "Fort", we may think about the highly fortified walls of the European battlers. But do you know there are forts in Singapore too? Well, for those who are wondering why we have the road called Fort Road, it was given because there was indeed a fort that was built around that vicinity in 1879!

For Singapore Trails, I visited Fort Tanjong Katong. Located at Katong Park, the fort sits quietly just at the corner of the park. Only part of the fort has been excavated so that the park can continue its purpose of bringing joy to the the community with its running tracks and playground.

Land reclamation in the 1960s has also taken away the sea view that the fort was built to protect. What lies in front is now the East Coast Park Expressway.

How to get there?

The fort is located at Katong Park along Meyer Road. There are parking lots at the edge of the park.

History of Fort Tanjong Katong

Called Fort Tanjong Katong, the Governor of the Straits Settlement, Sir William Jervois was the first to propose the building of this fort. Together with other defence installations such as Fort Canning, Fort Fullerton, Mount Palmer and Mount Faber Batteries, the purpose of this fort was to prevent enemy cruiser ships from attacking the New Harbour (Now Keppel Harbour), "its wharves, docks and coal stores" (1) It was also built to starve off aggressive forces from Russia. (6)

Sir H. E. McCallum was then tasked to design and build this fort in 1878. (2)

The fort must have been pretty inaccessible as it was only in 1900 that a road was constructed from Tanjong Rhu to join the road at the rear of Fort Tanjong Katong. (3) It seems like the easier way to get to the fort was by a steam launch from Johnston's Pier. (4)

The fort was manned by the Singapore Volunteer Artillery and they had regular firing drills of the 8 inch B.L. Gun (Armstrong Guns) in 1895 with British officers and civilians visiting the place regularly. (5)

The fort was abandoned and later buried. It was uncovered by a resident in 2001 and was partly excavated in 2004. (7) 


1. Straits Times Overland Journal. May 19, 1878. An Indian garrison for the Straits. P3. 

2. The Straits Times, August 29, 1956. Replace this torn sketch. P6.

3. The Straits Times, September 3, 1900. Untitled. P2.

4. The Straits Times, August 22, 1896. P2.

5. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942). July 15, 1895. The S.V.A. gun practice. P2.

6. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942). February 2, 1899. Suspicious proceedings of foreigners at Fort Tanjong Katong. P3.

7. Tay, T. W. Today. October 25, 2004. Work begins to unearth fort. P8.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

East Coast Park: Amber Beacon (Part 2 of 2)

A lovely stretch of cycling path along East Coast Beach

Continuing from Bedok Jetty, I cycled towards Fort Road. From as distance, I saw this yellow tower. I remember swimming at the beach close to the yellow tower and had never asked about its purpose nor its actual name.

Amber Beacon Tower

Well, there is indeed a name for this tower - Amber Beacon. It was given the name Amber as it lies pretty close to Amber Road. 

"The name and the roads were named after the Amber Trust Fund established by Serena Elias to enable poor Jewish youth to further their education...the name Amber Road was originally given in 1921." P.17 (1)

As I looked through past newspapers, what appeared was a murder of a 21-year old lady in 1990. (2)
More than 20 years has past and this unsolved mystery was brought to the fore once again. The male victim was interviewed by The Straits Times in 2015 and he's still haunted by that turn of event. The murderers have yet to be caught. (3)

I've also found Marine and Port Authorities of Singapore (MPA) listing Amber Beacon as the "East Control" reporting station for ships to report their arrival if they are coming from the eastern shore. (2)

How do I get there

To visit the Amber Beacon, you will need to head towards East Coast Car Park C1.

Updated on July 19, 2015.


1. Savage, V. R. & Yeoh, B. 2013. Singapore Street Names: A study of Toponomics. Marshall Cavendish Editions: Singapore. 

2. Marine and Port Authorities of Singapore. March 11, 2009. Amendment to reporting procedures for vessels manoeuvring in port.  

3. Hoe, P. S. July 19, 2015. Haunted by unsolved murder of girlfriend 25 years ago. The Straits Times. Accessed on July 19, 2015.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

East Coast Park: Bedok Jetty (Part 1 of 2)

East Coast Park - A place where families spend their time relaxing at the beach; where lovebirds walked hand-in-hand enjoying the nice evening breeze; where cyclists and joggers come to take in the fresh morning air. The trail that I took started off at the Bedok Jetty.

Info-graphics extracted from NewspaperSG (1)

Prior to 1964, this entire piece of land was all but sea water. Known as the East Coast Reclamation, a total of 1,525 ha of land (The size of more than 2,100 soccer fields) was reclaimed from the sea. (2)

Bedok Jetty was "used exclusively by the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF)" prior to it being open to the public. Though it is now used by anglers and cyclists, its "status as a MINDEF base remained unchanged".

Vietnam War

During the height of the Vietnam war in 1975, the area around Bedok Jetty was converted to a temporary medical centre for refugees. (3) The vessels that brought these Vietnamese refugees to Singapore were anchored off Bedok and the refugees were required to stay on board their vessels. (4)

Singapore Commandos were deployed to ensure food were properly rationed amongst the refugees during their interim stay in Singapore's waters. This was a temporary arrangement as once the refugees were attended to medically, and their boats were repaired, these refugees would then make their way to other countries and American-run islands that had agreed to accept them. Guam was one such island. (5)

Other than refugees, East Coast was also a conduit for badly damaged American trucks, jeeps and other vehicles. My history teacher, Mr John shared this on my Facebook:-

Most of the damaged vehicles were heavy trucks, jeeps and similar vehicles, Didn't see heavy armor,probably because of their sensitive nature.

Military Exercises

Jetty as seen in 1986 (6)
Even till today, MINDEF is still using the jetty for their military exercises. Still, they co-existed with anglers who have found that they jetty was indeed a nice spot to do their fishing. (7) (8) (9) (10) During my military days, I remembered that I landed on Bedok beach close to the jetty via a landing craft. It was my one and only time and I remembered that it was not an exercise. Beyond that, the reasons why I was there has become rather hazy through the passing of time.

Beyond its military purpose, the Bedok Jetty has been honoured as one of Singapore's favourite icons. (11) Generations have thronged this jetty. It was a place that I grew up visiting; fishing with friends though I am hardly a fan of fishing.

With it being the longest jetty in Singapore, the Bedok Jetty sees many curious on-lookers who will stroll down the jetty while looking at the catch of the different anglers. It's amazing to see the wide array of fishes caught by these anglers.

In the end, it's really the ambience of the place, the serenity, and the view from the jetty that  makes Bedok Jetty that tad bit special.

How do I get there

To visit the Bedok Jetty, you will need to head towards East Coast Car Park F1.



1. De Silva, G. May 4, 1987. 10% more land here between 1960 and 1992. The Straits Times. P18.
2. The great land reclamation in East Coast. November 21, 1983. The Straits Times. P7.
3. Byramji, M. May 8, 1975. 37 rescued as vessels sink. The Straits Times. P5.
4. Cheang, C. May 7, 1975. Another 10 refugee ships sail in. The Straits Times. P22.
5. Daniel, J. Chew, M.L. May 11, 1975. Refugees: Saigon request to Singapore. The Straits Times. P1.
6. How long will this jetty hold up? April 5, 1986. The Straits Times. P18.
7. Fish and Cheap - and Fun. March 14, 1983. The Straits Times. P40. 
8. SAF Exercises. August 7, 1994. The Straits Times. P24.
9. SAF Exercises. February 14, 1999. The Straits Times. P21. 
10. Military exercises from next Monday: MINDEF. July 11, 2014. Channel News Asia.
11. Singh, B. April 6, 2014. Saving Icons of Singapore. The Straits Times.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

[Parks] Lorong Halus: From Landfill to Wetland

Lorong Halus - a far flung corner of Singapore that no one had wanted to visit. The road off the Tampines Expressway was not only a landfill, it was also a place to dispose the unsavoury collection of the nation's night soil. (1) (The "century old night soil bucket system" and its night soil disposal station closed down in 1987) (2)

The "rudimentary  system (was) a poor reflection of poor public health standards (and that) would keep foreign investors away", according to Mr Tan Gee Paw, Chairman of the national water agency, PUB. (5)

There were more gloom linking to this place. Gangsters lurked in various corners and when the government had wanted to re-develop Tanjong Rhu, they moved "more than 40 charcoal dealers" to Lorong Halus.  (3)

The landfill was operational from 1970 to 1999. (4) 

I remember two instances whereby I had a close encounter with the landfill - both times were in 2002, three years after the landfill was officially closed.

The first was my unexpected visit of the place. I'd taken a wrong turn along the expressway and I'd ended up in Lorong Halus. It started of with it being a metal road. But that soon gave way and before I knew it, I was driving on a muddy road with huge tipper trucks coming from all directions! There was also some burning of refuse happening in that area. My mind went "oh-oh". I quickly did an about turn and scooted out of that area.

The second encounter was when I was house-hunting in Punggol. The wife and I were at Punggol Field Road and from where we were, we caught a whiff of the odour which we believe was coming from Lorong Halus. That encounter helped made up our minds. We chose a housing estate two MRT stations down.

Today, the entire Lorong Halus has been transformed into a wetland. Sited next to Serangoon Reservior, the Lorong Halus Wetland was officially opened on March 5, 2011 by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. (5)

How to get there

If you're driving, you can enter via the Tampines Expressway (Exit 7) towards Changi Airport. The exit will lead you towards Lorong Halus.

If you're jogging or cycling, there is also a bridge from Punggol that runs across the Punggol Serangoon River towards the wetlands.

Updated on: September 17, 2015


1. Chng, G. July 27, 1984. 88 nightsoil workers to call it a day. The Straits Times. P.11.
2. Death knell of nightsoil buckets. January 24, 1987. The Straits Times. P.17.
3. Charcoal traders move to Tampines. April 21, 1984. The Straits Times. P.10.
4. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research. The DNA of Singapore. (Accessed on November 24, 2014)
5. Lin, M. September 17, 2015. PUB Chairman Gets Top Honour for Sewer System. The Straits Times. P.B2

Sunday, November 9, 2014

[Hospital] Woodbridge Hospital - Are You Mad?

Institute of Mental Health (IMH) - formerly known as the Mental Hospital, was established in 1928. It was later renamed as Woodbridge Hospital in 1951. Today, nobody wants to be associated to the names. Even the road leading to the hospital, Jalan Woodbridge, is now known as Gerald Drive.

So why would anyone want to visit this place? Well, the hospital is no longer the dreary place that it was once known to be. 

In 1993, the hospital moved from the old Jalan Woodbridge to Buangkok. There's a quaint food court that faces the Heritage Garden. There's also the Woodbridge Museum that is open to public.

Main Entrance

Greeting you at the entrance is this antiquated bell. Built in England, this 1928 bell was installed in the old clock tower that has since been demolished. The bell rung thrice a day, reminding the patients that it was meal time. It was also rung on special occasions such as Christmas and New Year.

Heritage Garden

I was actually stopped by the security guards as photography of the wards is not allowed. However, I assured the guard that my intent was pandering towards history and heritage. With that, you want along his way as I continued my visit to the hospital. Walking through the lobby, you will come to the "Heritage Garden".

Photo courtesy of National Library Board (1)

As from the newspaper cutting above, one can see the distinctive star burst concrete ventilation that allowed for fresh air to enter the ward. IMH has salvaged one of these ventilation.

Found in the Heritage Garden are other parts of the old building that sought to keep the mentally ill patients in - the metal gates and the solid metal tubes windows.

Woodbridge Museum

To further capture how the Woodbridge Hospital operated in the past, IMH dedicated a portion of space to set up a museum. This is on the second level of the main building.

Seeing some of these rudimentary tools on display, I can just imagine the horrid times that these patients had to go through. 

The non-descript food container and the water jug added no joy to the Woodbridge patients. Everything was sterile; no colours on the wall to add life.

When things get violent and unruly, the staff will whip out their batons and wicket shield to defend the institution.

Visiting the Heritage Garden and the Woodbridge Museum has shown me how much the treatment of mental patients has changed. The current lodging condition of IMH is surely much better than before. Medical advances have also taught medical workers how they can treat mental patients with greater dignity. 


1. Singapore's New Mental Hospital in Singapore. September 24, 1927. Malayan Saturday Post. P36.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

[Food] Janggut Laksa - THE Original Katong Laksa


Janggut Laksa - What a name to call your laksa stall. When you say that someone has a janggut, it means that he must have kept a beard of good length. I'd thus imagine that the original stall owner, the late Mr Ng Juat Swee, must be a keeper of a beard. But seemingly, it was far from the truth.

The name "Janggut" came about because Mr Ng, who was known as the original laksa man from Katong, "had a few strands of hair coming out from a mole on his left chin". (1) 

Mole hair = Janggut? The sense of humour that the people of the 1950s had. Let's move on. Mr Ng started selling laksa in the 1950s and he had carted his noodles and laksa gravy using a tricycle. (1) 

The original Junggut Laksa was previously located at 49, East Coast Road.
Picture taken from google maps. (2)

By 1963, Mr Ng started selling his brand of laksa at the Sunday market and finally, rented a stall space at No. 49, East Coast Road. (3)  Ironically, it's fiercest competitor 328 Katong Laksa has taken over their spiritual home.

Janggut Laksa's small kitchen space

The main stall is now located at Queenway Shopping Centre and really, one does not associate the shopping centre with food. Locals and tourists alike visit this shopping centre to buy discounted sports shoes and gears. Moreover, Janggut Laksa is now a kiosk with nondescript long orange tables and plastic chairs. They have a branch that is located at Roxy Square in Marine Parade.

Singapore's famous food blogger of the ieat.ishoot.ipost, Dr Leslie Tay has given this laksa a rating of 4.5 over 5. (4)

Full house even on weekdays

Not only does it tastes nice, the laksa noodles are easily slurp-able as it has been cur to shorter stands and thus, only spoons are used. I'd say that I agree with the rating though in truth, I'm not a food blogger. So I'll keep to the historic of this traditional laksa dish and let the food gurus share about how lemak (rich) is the laksa gravy. 


Main - 1 Queensway, Queensway Shopping Centre #01-59 Singapore 149053
Branch - 50 East Coast Road, Roxy Square #01-64 Singapore 428769


1. Junggut's laksa legacy. November 7, 1999. The Straits Times. P7. 

2. Google Map. Accessed on November 11, 2014.

3. Khoo, H. Yusof, Z. M. & Chan, C. September 20, 2009. No shane say popular S'pore food stalls.  The New Paper.
4. i eat i shoot i post. Accessed on November 11, 2014.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

[Singapore Islands] Kusu Island: The Land of Tortoises


An island where prayers are held - both at the Tua Pek Kong Temple and the Malay Keramat. How did the holy places of two different religions ended up on the same island? Well, I'd say that lends to the mystic of this interesting island.

Through my readings, I've found a newspaper article stating that Kusu Island (Or formerly known as Pulo Kusu, or Peak Island or Pulau Tembakul or Tortoise Island for the many tortoises found on the island. Phew that's a whole lot of names for a tiny island) was a "favourite resort of the Straits-born Chinese". (1) The mystery grows. Was there a resort on Pulo Kusu? Why did the Straits-born Chinese choose Pulo Kusu to hang out?

Pulo Kusu is located slightly more than five kilometres South of Singapore; close enough to Singapore for the early pioneers to make a visit to the island via sampans. (2) The island was inhabited by a very small group of fishermen. (3)

Kusu Island's temple being enveloped by the sea during high tide. (4)

In the past, the temple stood on an atoll while the kramat was on top of the hill. Both the places of worship were linked by a strip of sand. During high tide, the strip of sand disappears. (5) In order to move from the temple to the kramat, one has to either take a ride on the sampan, or to just swim across.

In modern times, you can either pay for a special chartered boat ride that would take you 15 minutes; or simply follow the crowd and pay for the normal ferry shuttle which costs markedly less (Check website for rates). The boat ride from Singapore to Pulo Kusu take about 45 minutes as the ferry will stop over at St. John's Island first before crossing over to Pulo Kusu. (6)

The Kramat

In an October 1926 newspaper article, the writer visited Kramat Kusu. In that article, the writer mentioned that one has to trod the "winding pathway" to reach to the summit. Now, the path is well-paved and the 152 steps will lead you to the kramat.

Along the upward path, one would see both yellow strings and red plastic bags with two stones. So what do these signify? Well, visitors of the kramat tie the strings with four numbers - lucky numbers that punters write down in hope of striking it rich. What about the red plastic bags with stones and notes? Some parents do that in the hope of getting a child.   

The first mention of Kusu Island was on the March 1616 when Dom Jose de Silva, Spanish Governor of the Philippines was believed to have run aground at Kusu Reef. (7) The early newspapers also alluded to the fact that it was already a place of worship long before the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles. (8)

Back to current times, I arrive at the peak of the hill. There stood a kramat all painted in yellow. A kramat signifies a holy person with supernatural powers, seemingly even after the person's death. So on top of this hill, there are three shrines and they are maintained by Mr Hussein and his wife, Jamaliah. Mr Hussein claimed that he has taken over his father's duty as the caretaker. He also said that he has lived at the kramat for about 50 years.

I'd observe that the ritual both Mr Hussein and his wife have performed was not of a full Muslim ritual but instead, a prayer to Datok Nenek that was done in a mixture of Malay, Hokkien and English. The entire ritual ended with a "Huat ah" (or may you prosper).

Tua Pek Kong Temple

The distinctive Chinese green roof with red pillars stood out from a distance. What was once a prayer hut is now a full fledged temple. (9)

I entered through the gates that was closer to the foothill of the kramat. The bright red paint of the entrance exudes this warmness - an invitation to visit the temple.

Every year from September, thousands of pilgrims flocked to this island temple to "pray for good luck and prosperity". (10)

There's even a wishing well for you to toss your 'lucky' coins. If your coin hits the bell, it means that luck with be with you.

All in, it was an eye opener for me to see two different religion living in harmony on a small little island.


1. Untitled. The Straits Times. October 26, 1908. P6.
2. A Visit to Kramat Kusu. The Straits Times. October 29, 1926. P10.
3. Matter Chinese. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942). October 21, 1927. P5.
4. Untitled. The Straits Times. October 30, 1950. P7.
5. Heathcott, K. (October 21, 1940). Chinese Go To Pray And Picnic On Kusu Island. P7.
6. Singapore Island Cruise. Accessed on October 27, 2014.
7. Cornelius-Takahama, V. (2000). Singapore Infopedia. Accessed on October 28, 2014.
8. Before the days of Raffles. October 9, 1932. The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942). P7.
9. Grand Old Lady (100) of Kusu Island dies. November 1, 1954. The Singapore Free Press. P5.
10. The Birthday of Two Gods. February 10, 1956. The Singapore Free Press. P4.