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the simple life

"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Monday, June 27, 2005

Street Names / History

Restore street names to preserve history

Street & Building Names Board should hold shows to educate young

Monday • June 27, 2005

In the Bedok area there is Koh Sek Lim Road, and almost parallel to it is Xilin Avenue.

Even the descendants of Koh Sek Lim are not aware that both names refer to their grandfather.

It would be more meaningful if the Street & Building Names Board (SBNB) would consider changing Xilin Avenue to Koh Sek Lim Avenue.

As this highway is devoid of residences, such a move would not cause any inconvenience by way of people having to change their addresses.

A similar confusion over names arises with Nee Soon and Yishun, both of which refer to Mr Lim Nee Soon.

People also perhaps do not realise that the Nee Soon Central Community Centre in Yishun Street 72 are both named after the same person.

There are numerous picturesque old names which have disappeared from the scene and are waiting to be resurrected — Telok Mata Ikan, Beting Kusa, Padang Terbakar, Ayer Manis, Wayang Satu, Rumah Miskin, Sepoy Lines and Keat Hong — names with historical memories that bind a people.

Sepoy Lines was where the sepoys (Indian soldiers) lived in their Lines (barracks) on the grounds of the Outram Road General Hospital.

In 1995, Mr Lim Chee Onn, as chairman of the National Heritage Board (NHB), suggested that in order "to accelerate the moulding of our national identity", the NHB could include, "as its additional objective, the preservation and restoration of historical names".

The Czech author, Milan Kundera, also said: "The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its people ... Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was."

For instance, if we had kept on calling the market Zhujiao, people would have forgotten about Tekka and what it meant to us — as has happened to Hock Lam Street where Funan Centre now stands.

To educate the young, the SBNB could hold photographic street exhibitions: For example, outside Zouk as to who Tan Jiak Kim was; in Amber Road, for them to discover that it was named after a member of the Elias family, one of whose mansions is still standing there; and in Emerald Hill Road, where originally William Cuppage had his nutmeg plantation in 1837.

Lee Kip Lee

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