Pasir Ris Red House… A Legend No More

One of the most famous “haunted” places in Singapore is now undergoing redevelopment.

The private residence at 191 Jalan Loyang Besar was once a favourite haunt for thrill-seeking youngsters in their supernatural-hunting activities. Nicknamed the Pasir Ris Red House (or Loyang Red House), the building had been nominated by the local paranormal groups since the nineties as one of the three most haunted “coloured” houses in Singapore; the other two being the White House (Punggol Matilda House) and the Green House (Hillview Mansion).

pasir ris red house redevelopment 2014

Jalan Loyang Besar used to be a narrow and bumpy road that was linked directly to the main Loyang Avenue. A large portion of it was removed when Pasir Ris New Town and Pasir Ris Drive 1 were constructed in the eighties. Today, it is more popularly known as the road leading to the chalets and holiday resorts at Pasir Ris.

pasir ris red house redevelopment2 2014

pasir ris red house redevelopment3 2014

According to API’s (Asian Paranormal Investigators) research, the Red House has a significant past.

It was built in 1938, and was purchased by the McNeice family in the late 1940s. Sir Percy McNeice (1902-1998), well-known for his contributions in housing, family planning and social welfare, was a British civil servant who had served as Singapore’s first president of the City Council. His wife Loke Yuen Peng (1917-2012), also known as Lady McNeice, was the daughter of Loke Yew, British Malaya’s richest man before the Second World War, and sister of Loke Wan Tho, the founder of Cathay Organisation.

The old Pasir Ris was made up of several villages; Kampong Loyang was a fishing village, largely made up of Malay families, that existed until the eighties. Before the establishment of the People’s Association (PA) in 1960, the Red House was used for providing communal services for the villagers of Kampong Loyang.

kampong loyang 1980s

kampong loyang2 1980s

In 1964, the property was sold to CK Tang (Tang Choon Keng, 1901-2000), where the boss of the Tangs department store and his family was said to have lived in the house for a brief period of time. The double-block house once enjoyed a clear sea view of the Johor Straits, before it was blocked by the development of the Pasir Ris Park and the NTUC and UDMC holiday chalets in the late eighties.

pasir ris red house 2012

pasir ris red house2 2012

By the nineties, rumours began to circulate that the house was haunted. It did not help when the property, by then, had been left vacated for four decades and was in a derelict state. The popularity of the nearby chalets and holiday resorts was also a possible reason for the spread of the rumours, as many youngsters sneaked out at nights to “explore” the Red House.

pasir ris red house3 2012

Stories such as the pair of haunted stone lions at the gates, a weeping doll on a rocking chair inside the house, or white shadows spotted within the compound, failed to deter people from going to the house. In fact, more were lured to the place. The rumours, however, did start to fade away in recent years.

pasir ris red house4 2012

With the redevelopment of the Pasir Ris Red House, it spells the end of the legendary “haunted” houses of the past. The Punggol Matilda House has already been converted into a clubhouse, whereas the Hillview Mansion was razed to the ground in the mid-2000s.

Also check out Cavin Teo’s photos of the Pasir Ris Red House in a more dilapidated state several years ago.

Published: 30 March 2014

Posted in Paranormal | 1 Comment

Paintings in the Sky – Unique HDB Murals

Have you ever passed by a HDB flat painted with murals?

There are quite a few such blocks in Singapore; the most famous ones are probably the Hougang rainbow block and the Khatib flat with paintings of giant kites. Not always visually pleasant to everyone, these HDB murals, however, help to add a touch of uniqueness to certain blocks and make them stand out among the rest.

Traditional Layang-layang

Standing opposite the Khatib MRT Station, it is unlikely that one will miss this prominent block with its four gigantic murals of kites.

khatib hdb kite murals

Location: Block 838, Yishun Street 81

Cheerful Rainbows

The rainbow block has been an iconic fixture along Hougang Avenue 7 since the early eighties.

hougang hdb rainbow mural

Location: Block 316, Hougang Avenue 7

bedok reservoir road rainbow flat

Location: Block 609, Bedok Reservoir Road

Cupid’s Love

Commuters on the SMRT East-West Line used to see this adorable Cupid mural when their trains passed by Block 210 of Jurong East. Painted in 2005, the mural no longer exists today after the block underwent an upgrading program a few years back.

jurong east hdb mural

Location: Block 210, Jurong East Street 21

Blooming Orchids

Since 1981, Vanda ‘Miss Joaquim’ has been chosen as the national flower of Singapore, so it is natural to see them used as representative murals on some of the old HDB flats, such as the ones at Tanjong Pagar Plaza and Yishun. The orchid murals, however, had been removed when the blocks were given fresh coats of painting in recent years.

tanjong pagar hdb mural 2009

Location: Block 2, 4 & 5, Tanjong Pagar Road

yishun hdb mural

Location: Block 740, Yishun Avenue 5

Sturdy Bamboos

khatib hdb mural3

Location: Block 790 & 798, Yishun Ring Road

khatib hdb mural4

Location: Block 796, Yishun Ring Road

Trees of Life

khatib hdb mural5

Location: Block 800 & 804, Yishun Ring Road

Symbolic Singapore

Another tree mural can be found on a HDB block at Hougang. It belongs to a cluster of four identical blocks that are painted with symbols and pictures representative of Singapore. These include attap houses, public housing, racial harmony, Merlion and the national flag.

hougang hdb mural3

hougang hdb mural6

hougang hdb mural5

Location: Block 661, 662, 665 & 667, Hougang Avenue 4

hougang hdb mural7

Location: Block 917 & 923, Hougang Avenue 9

Healthy Lifestyle

Playing sports is a good way to keep a healthy lifestyle, and football, tennis and cycling are some of the favourite sports here in Singapore.

khatib hdb mural

Location: Block 855, Yishun Ring Road

khatib hdb mural2

Location: Block 858, Yishun Ring Road

hougang hdb mural

Location: Block 309, Hougang Avenue 5

Kampong Days

Painted at the ground floor, instead of the top level, of Block 105D of Edgefield Plains, the murals depict the former appearances of Punggol, when it was still a rustic and peaceful fishing village before the eighties.

punggol hdb mural

punggol hdb mural2

Location: Block 105D, Edgefield Plains

Published: 23 March 2014

Posted in Cultural | 6 Comments

20 Most Memorable SBC (Channel 8) Dramas of the 1980s

TV used to be a big part of our life. It still does, except that there are more choices in the programs nowadays and its influence is being affected by internet, smartphones and other entertainment devices. Like many others, SBC dramas, especially those from Channel 8, used to accompany me in my childhood and teenage years.

The Early Days of SBC

sbc logoThe eighties and a large part of the nineties were undeniably the golden periods for SBC, the predecessor of Mediacorp (and TCS). SBC, Singapore Broadcasting Corporation in full, was established in February 1980 as a statutory board, after the corporatisation of Radio and Television Singapore (RTS).

Back then, the sources of Chinese dramas were mainly from Hong Kong and Taiwan. The dramas, many of them in Cantonese and Minnan (Taiwanese Hokkien), had to be dubbed in Mandarin for Singapore audience. After its establishment, SBC decided to invest and produce Singapore’s own Chinese drama series.

star search 1990In 1978, Hong Kong’s entertainment realm was hit by the collapse of Commercial Television and the change in ownership of Rediffusion Television (now Asia Television Limited). The two incidents provided opportunities for SBC to recruit some of the top talents in Hong Kong scriptwriters and producers.

The early eighties also saw the first batch of local artistes recruited through drama training classes. This lasted a decade before it was eventually replaced by the Star Search competition in 1988, which produced the likes of Zoe Tay, Aileen Tan and Chew Chor Meng. In 1982, the successful production and broadcast of “Seletar Robbery” signified the birth of local Mandarin dramas.

Channel 5, Suria and Vasantham

Malay programs found their ways to TV as early as the sixties. “Pak Awang Temberang” (Uncle Awang Tells Stories) was the first Malay-language drama series aired in 1966. The seventies were the golden era for Malay dramas; many were produced and directed by Bani Buang (1929-1996), popularly known as the father of Singapore’s modern Malay dramas.

masters of the sea 1994Locally-made Tamil dramas soon followed. “Ippadiayam oru Kudumbam” (What A Family), aired in August 1980, was the first Tamil-language drama series produced in Singapore.

Ironically, Singapore did not produce its own local English dramas until the nineties, even though Channel 5 was the first TV channel debuted in April 1963. The much-criticised “Masters Of The Sea” became the first local English TV drama series aired in 1994.

20 Most Memorable SBC (Channel 8) Dramas

Between 1982 and 1990, SBC produced close to ninety Chinese drama series for Channel 8; many were forgettable, some became classic, along with their theme songs which were tailor made to suit the storylines of the dramas. Creativity was at its peak as SBC explored different types of drama genres, such as mystery, horror, comedy, science-fiction and wuxia (pugilistic/martial arts).

RemSG sorts out its list of 20 most memorable Channel 8 dramas. Which of these were your favourite ones?

1. Seletar Robbery 实里达大劫案

seletary robbery 1982Period: 24 July 1982

Episodes: 1

Genre: Thriller

Main Cast: Huang Wenyong (黄文永), Chin Chi Kang (钱治钢), Lim Sin Ming (林生民), Steven Woon (云昌凑)

Plot Summary: It was a police and thief game as three robbers got away with a $300,000 loot from a construction company.

Trivia: Although it had only one episode and lasted only 90 minutes, “Seletar Robbery” was considered the first locally-produced Chinese drama. It took less than a month to finish the filming of the drama.

Memorable Scene: Chin Chi Kang as the undisputed villain.

2. Army Series 新兵小传

army series 1983

Period: 14 March 1983 to 06 May 1983

Episodes: 6

Genre: Military

Main Cast: Huang Wenyong, Wang Yuqing (王玉清), Lin Liyun (林丽云), Ang Puay Heng (洪培兴), He Qitang (何其糖)

Plot Summary: Everything seemed well for the much-respected officer who was getting married and was just promoted to the rank of lieutenant, before an accident at the training ground cost his life.

Trivia: “Army Series” was the first true drama series produced by SBC, with a total of six episodes. It was also the first local production depicting the NS life, long before the movies of “Army Daze” (1996) and “Ah Boys to Men” (2012) were screened in Singapore. Its theme song “A Measure of Strength” (一份力量), sang by the SAF, was used as one of the National Parade songs in the late eighties.

Memorable Scene: Huang Wenyong, as the caring officer, was killed in the blast while saving his nervous recruit in a grenade-throwing training exercise.

flying fish 19833. Flying Fish 小飞鱼

Period: 12 August 1983 to 30 September 1983

Episodes: 8

Genre: Sport/Youth

Main Cast: Wang Yuqing, Maggie Teng (邓妙华), Chen Bifeng (陈碧凤), Wang Xiangqing (王相钦)

Plot Summary: A teenager who aspired to become one of the best swimmers, but was pressured by his father to abandon his interest and instead study hard for the examinations.

Trivia: “Flying Fish” was introduced shortly after the 1983 National Day. Dubbed as Singapore’s first idol drama, it catapulted Wang Yuqing to stardom. The production also invited Singapore swimmer and SEA Games gold medalist Ang Peng Siong to guide the actors and actresses in their swimming styles.

4. The Awakening 雾锁南洋

the awakening2 1984Year: 06 February 1984 to 07 May 1984 (Part 1), 06 August 1983 to 12 October 1983 (Part 2)

Episodes: 27 (Part 1), 26 (Part 2)

Genre: History/War

Main Cast: Huang Wenyong, Xiang Yun (向云), Chen Shucheng (陈澍承), Huang Peiru (黄佩如), Wang Yuqing, Chen Bifeng, He Jie (何洁), Chen Tiansong (陈天送), Chen Tianwen (陈天文), Huang Yuling (黄毓玲), Liu Qiulian (刘秋莲), Ke Shafei (柯莎菲), Li Huiyan (黎惠燕), Chin Chi Kang

Plot Summary: “The Awakening” came in two parts and four major stories; the arrival of the early Chinese migrants at the start of the 20th century, the Japanese Occupation, the independence of Singapore and the country’s rapid economic development in the seventies and eighties.

Trivia: The first local blockbuster drama cost a total of $500,000 in production fees, and involved more than 200 artistes and calefares. It managed to gain 800,000 in viewership, helping Huang Wenyong and Xiang Yun in cementing their statuses as the leading actor and actress in SBC. “The Awakening” also became the first SBC drama to be bought by TV companies overseas.

Memorable Scene: The Chinese migrants who arrived at Singapore in an overcrowded junk.

the awakening 1984

5. Men From The Past 大侠吴三奇

men from the past 1985Period: 08 February 1985 to 03 March 1985

Episodes: 12

Genre: Pugilistic/Martial Arts/Fantasy

Main Cast: Chen Tianwen, He Jie, Liu Qiulian, Xia Chuan (夏川), Lina Yeo (杨丽娜), Yan Bingliang (严丙量)

Plot Summary: One of the earliest “time travel”-themed dramas in Asia, “Men From The Past” featured an ancient martial arts expert and his nemesis who brought their feuds to the modern society after travelling through time.

Trivia: “Men From The Past” was the first SBC production that had travelled overseas for some of their filming scenes. It was also the first SBC production that, instead of using voice dubbing, recorded the actual dialogues between the actors and actresses during the filming. This, however, received criticisms from the public that the acting crews’ pronunciations were not up to standard.

6. Son of Pulau Tekong 亚答籽

son of tekong4 1985Period: 13 June 1985 to 26 July 1985

Episodes: 26

Genre: Society

Main Cast: Huang Wenyong, Lin Mingzhe (林明哲), Chen Bifeng, Chen Xiuhuan (陈秀环), Huang Peiru, Liu Qiulian, Chen Guohua (陈国华)

Plot Summary: Two young men, leaving behind their innocent and carefree days at Pulau Tekong, struggled for their respective new life on mainland Singapore.

Trivia: The 26-episode drama “Son of Tekong” was well-remembered due to its locally-flavoured name (which literally means “attap seed”), beautiful theme songs and a storyline that struck a resonance with the previous generation who had experienced the resettlement from kampongs to HDB flats. The drama also showcased the rustic lifestyle of Pulau Tekong before it was converted into a militarized zone.

Memorable Scene: The RPL (Ramp Powered Lighter) that ferried the islanders and their belongings.

son of tekong3 1985

7. The Coffee Shop 咖啡乌

Period: 16 December 1985 to 04 February 1986

the coffee shop5 1985Episodes: 30

Genre: Comedy

Main Cast: Lin Mingzhe, Chin Chi Kang, Xiang Yun (向云), Huang Yiliang (黄奕良), Hong Huifang (洪慧芳), Hong Peixin (洪培兴), Ke Shafei, Li Huiyan, Dai Peng (戴鹏), Wu Weiqiang (邬伟强), Steven Woon

Plot Summary: A particularly “grassroot” drama, “The Coffee Shop” talked about the incidents and people around the kopitiam, and the everyday life of the families living in the nearby housing estate, including the braggart stallholder and his four younger sisters, the gossip aunty and the hardworking coffee shop assistant.

Trivia: The drama’s theme song “Connection of Emotions” (情感联络站), sang by Eric Moo with the familiar phrase “kopi O kopi O“, became an instant hit overnight. “The Coffee Shop” was the first local drama to hit one million average viewership.

Memorable Scene: The clash between the “red” (wedding) and the “white” (wake) at the void deck.

the coffee shop 1985

happy trio 19868. The Happy Trio 青春123

Year: 06 February 1986 to 11 March 1986

Episodes: 20

Genre: Youth

Main Cast: Chen Bifeng, Yang Libing (杨莉冰), Huang Wenyong, Hu Shuxian (胡淑贤), Wang Yuqing, Chen Shucheng (陈澍承), Huang Peiru, Zhu Houren (朱厚任), Anna Tan (陈安娜), Jin Jugong (金举拱)

Plot Summary: “The Happy Trio” touched on the life and difficulties faced by three teenage girls, such as family, love, friendship and studies.

Trivia: The drama’s catchy opening theme song was sang by then-upcoming xinyao singer Yan Liming (颜黎明).

9. Men of Valour 盗日英雄传

men of valour 1986Year: 13 March 1986 to 02 May 1986

Episodes: 30

Genre: Pugilistic/Martial Arts/History

Main Cast: Hugo Ng (吴瑰岸), Xiang Yun, Lin Mingzhe, Chen Liping (陈莉萍), Lin Meijiao (林梅娇), Huang Yiliang, Huang Shinan (黄世南), Li Huiyan (黎惠燕), Xia Chuan, Chen Tianwen

Plot Summary: It was a chaotic era during the early South Song Dynasty. Famous Song general Yue Fei led his army to resist the invasion from the barbaric Jin troops, with the help of several righteous swordsmen.

Trivia: A major attempt by SBC to produce a drama series with a storyline that derived from China history. One of its filming locations took place at the Chinese Garden. Taiwanese diva Feng Feifei was invited to sing the drama’s theme songs.

Memorable Scene: The massive battle between the Song city and the Jin invaders.

10. The Samsui Women 红头巾

the samsui women 1986Year: 05 May 1986 to 13 June 1986

Episodes: 24

Genre: Nostalgia

Main Cast: Zeng Huifen (曾慧芬), Hong Huifang, Huang Wenyong, Li Yinzhu (李茵珠), Li Wenhai (李文海)

Plot Summary: Another locally-flavoured drama series produced by SBC after “Son of Tekong” and “The Coffee Shop”, “The Samsui Women” described the life and difficulties of three samsui women working in Singapore after the war.

Trivia: The opening theme song, sang by Taiwanese songbird Sarah Chen, became a classic hit. The drama also brought fame to its leading actresses Zeng Huifeng and Hong Huifang.

11. Neighbours 芝麻绿豆

neighbours 1986Year: 07 July 1986 to 03 October 1988

Episodes: 510

Genre: Comedy

Main Cast: Cai Pingkai (蔡平开), Chen Guohua (陈国华), Duan Weiming (段伟明), Lina Yeo, Fang Hui (方辉), He Jie, Zhou Shiqiang (周世强), Jin Yinji (金银姬)

Plot Summary: Like “The Coffee Shop”, “Neighbours” was a “grassroot” drama series that had a day-to-day storyline revolving around a kopitam and its stallholders of different characters.

Trivia: The daily half-hour “Neighbours” was the longest running drama series produced by SBC, with a total of 510 episodes and lasted more than two years. It brought fame to veteran actress Cai Pingkai, as her character “Er Gu” (Second Aunt) became a household name. The opening theme song “Voices From The Heart” (小人物的心声) was included in the Ministry of Communications and Information’s “Sing Singapore” booklet in 1988.

12. Five Foot Way 五脚基

Year: 16 March 1987 to 24 April 1987

five foot way 1987Episodes: 30

Genre: Nostalgia/Society

Main Cast: Huang Wenyong, Wang Yuqing, Ye Sumei (叶素梅), Huang Peiru, Huang Shinan, Bai Yan (白言), Liang Tian (梁田), Tang Hu (唐琥), Chen Meiguang (陈美光), Li Yinzhu, Wang Xiuyun (王秀云)

Plot Summary: Sharing a common space, the different families living at the row of shophouses showed their cooperative and helpful nature for one another. The story spanned over more than two decades, from the late fifties to the early eighties.

Trivia: Many veteran SBC artistes were involved in the production of “Five Foot Way”, which brought back many old familiar memories of Singapore such as tikam, chap ji kee and firecrackers. Its popular theme song “My Life Is Here” (我的生活在这里) was also recorded in Sing Singapore 1988.

13. Strange Encounters 奇缘

strange encounters 1987Year: 26 October 1987 to 27 November 1987 (Part 1), 19 December 1988 to 27 January 1989 (Part 2)

Episodes: 25 (Part 1), 30 (Part 2)

Genre: Mystery/Horror/Fantasy

Main Cast: Wang Yuqing, Chen Bifeng, Zheng Wanling (郑宛玲), Jin Jugong, Li Wenhai, Chen Shucheng, Huang Peiru, Lin Mingzhe, Desmond Sim (沈金兴), Ye Sumei, Lina Yeo, Anna Tan, Huang Shinan, Lin Meijiao, Chen Huihui (陈慧慧), Huang Wenyong, Huang Yiliang, Chen Xiuhuan, Liu Qiulian, Zoe Tay (郑惠玉), Chen Hanwei (陈汉玮)

Plot Summary: “Strange Encounters” was made up of several short stories (seven in Part 1 and nine in Part 2) in paranormal, strange tales and Chinese legends.

Trivia: There was also a Part 3 of the drama series. It was produced by TCS and telecast in 1995.

14. On The Fringe 边缘少年

Year: 18 April 1988 to 20 May 1988

Episode: 25

Genre: Youth

on the fringe 1987Main Cast: Li Nanxing (李南星), Yang Libing, Chen Bifeng, Zheng Wanling, Duan Weiming, Zheng Guoping (郑国平), Huang Yiliang, Lin Meijiao

Plot Summary: A group of rebellious youths gradually fell into the dark side of the society after losing their directions in life.

Trivia: In 2011, Mediacorp produced a 20-episode “remake” of “On The Fringe” (边缘父子), also starring Li Nanxing. It was Channel 8′s first PG (Parental Guidance) drama series.

15. Mystery 迷离夜

mystery 1988Year: 29 August 1988 to 07 October 1988

Episodes: 30

Genre: Horror/Mystery

Main Cast: Madeline Chu (朱乐玲), Zeng Huifen, Lin Mingzhe, Chen Xiuhuan, Yang Libing, Wang Yuqing, Li Wenhai, Pan Lingling (潘玲玲), Zheng Wanling, Chen Shucheng, Huang Wenyong, Xiang Yun, Tang Miaoling (汤妙玲), Angela Ang (洪昭容), Edmund Chen (陈之财), Zhu Houren, Huang Shinan, Chen Meiguang, Cai Pingkai, Tang Hu

Plot Summary: “Mystery” was made up of eight short mysterious stories, namely “Butterfly” 蝶, “Piano” 琴, “Infant” 婴, “Beauty” 美, “Dream” 梦, “Caution” 戒, “Soul” 魂 and “Puzzle” 迷.

Trivia: A Part 2 was produced and telecast in 1992.

Memorable Scene: Madeline Chu, in the first story “Butterfly”, aged rapidly after bitten by a butterfly.

teahouse in chinatown 198816. Teahouse In Chinatown 牛车水人家

Year: 10 October 1988 to 18 November 1988

Episodes: 30

Genre: Nostalgia/Society

Main Cast: Li Nanxing, Chen Liping, Lin Meijiao, Zhu Houren, Fu Shuiyu (傅水玉), Zhang Shuifa (张水发), Liu Quilian, Tracy Wong (王裕香), Sean Say (成建辉), Chen Tianwen, Steven Lim, Wu Weiqiang, Jin Yinji

Plot Summary: “Teahouse In Chinatown” described an ordinary family; an aging couple who was constantly worrying about their five children, each with a different character.

Trivia: The drama’s opening theme song was sang by Eric Moo.

17. The Last Applause 舞榭歌台

the last applause 1988Year: 25 July 1988 to 16 August 1988

Episodes: 40

Genre: Society/Romance

Main Cast: Zeng Huifen, Lin Mingzhe, Xiang Yun, Huang Wenyong, Chen Tianwen, Li Wenhai, Liu Qiulian, Lin Meijiao, Huang Peiru, Lina Yeo, Edmund Chen, Jin Jugong

Plot Summary: One of the blockbusters produced by SBC in the late eighties, “The Last Applause” talked about the life of different getai (stage) singers who faced numerous challenges and discrimination. Many years later, an aspired singer became famous and popular, leading to a misunderstanding with her lover.

Trivia: The drama’s popular theme songs “When The Curtains Falls” (落幕的心情) and “Gentle Night” (温柔的夜) were sang by local singer Maggie Teng.

18. Good Morning, Sir! 早安老师

good morning sir 1989Year: 22 May 1989 to 16 June 1989

Episodes: 20

Genre: Society/Comedy

Main Cast: Li Nanxing, Chen Liping, Madeline Chu, Aileen Tan (陈丽贞), Zhu Houren, Hong Huifang, Hong Peixin, Lin Tianlong (林天龙)

Plot Summary: A young passionate lady took up a teaching role at a local kampong school in the sixties, inspiring her students with new teaching methods. She later fell in love with a Chinese physician in the village.

Trivia: Along with its catchy opening theme song, “Good Morning, Sir!” was a big hit, as Li Nanxing and Chen Liping emerged as SBC’s new leading actor and actress. “Aiyoyo” also became Chen Liping’s nickname.

Memorable Scene: The kampongs and farming areas in Singapore that still existed in the eighties.

a mother's love 198919. A Mother’s Love 亲心唤我心

Year: 1989

Episodes: 35

Genre: Kinship

Main Cast: Wang Xiuyun, Li Nanxing, Wang Yuqing, Zoe Tay, Zeng Huifen, Zheng Guoping, Fu Shuiyu, Xie Shaoguang (谢韶光), Ye Shipin (叶世品), Chen Fengling (陈凤凌)

Plot Summary: A mother got separated from her five young children after she was sentenced to prison. The siblings were eventually reunited with their aging mother many years later, after a series of hardships, conflicts and misunderstandings.

Trivia: “A Mother’s Love” was popularly regarded as one of the most touching SBC dramas in the late eighties. The drama also saw the debut of Xie Shaoguang.

20. The Finishing Line 出人头地

the finishing line6 1990Period: 1990

Episodes: 30

Genre: Society

Main Cast: Li Nanxing, Zoe Tay, Edmund Chen, Aileen Tan, Liang Weidong (梁维东), Tracy Wong, Hu Shuxian

Plot Summary: “The Finishing Line” described the life and friendship of three good friends in Singapore in the eighties. Growing up together in a kampong at Sembawang, each of them had chosen a different career after their National Service.

Trivia: The drama catapulted Edmund Chen to stardom.

Memorable Scenes: A glimpse of Singapore’s thriving financial centre at Shenton Way in the late eighties.

Other Notable Dramas

star maiden 1988Other memorable SBC Channel 8 drama series of the eighties also include “Takeover” 人在旅途 (1985), “The Bond” 天涯同命鸟 (1986), “Paint A Rainbow” 调色板 (1987), “Painted Faces” 戏班 (1987), “Moving On” 变迁 (1987), “Star Maiden” 飞越银河 (1988) (SBC’s first ever science-fiction drama), “Turn of the Tide” 浮沉 (1989) and “Two Different Lifes” 金兰结 (1989).

Published: 10 March 2014

Posted in Nostalgic | 12 Comments

Have a Cup of Kopi…. with Butter

It was a warm and humid afternoon. There were few customers in this old kopitiam tucked away at the ground floor of one of the old HDB flats at North Bridge Road.

The sleepy neighbourhood had seen several changes in the past three decades; the once-popular Plaza Cinema and Golden Sultan Theatre at the nearby Textile Centre and Sultan Plaza were long gone. Eng Cheong Tower, standing beside North Bridge Road Hawker Centre, has been redeveloped into a condominium named Southbank in the mid-2000s.

heap seng leong kopitiam north bridge road

But Heap Seng Leong still holds its ground against the name of progression and development. Its interior has remained largely the same for years, served by the old uncle in his pajamas who makes dozen cups of kopi day after day.

heap seng leong kopitiam2 north bridge road

heap seng leong kopitiam3 north bridge road

The plastic chairs are perhaps the only “new” things in the kopitiam. The others, such as the round marble-top tables, Formica tables, Diamond-brand electric clock, Bakelite switches, orange payphone and old wooden cabinets, remind one of Singapore of the seventies and eighties.

heap seng leong kopitiam4 north bridge road

heap seng leong kopitiam5 north bridge road

Heap Seng Leong’s “specialty” is kopi gu you (coffee with butter). The dissolving butter may not look too pleasing to the eye, but it certainly adds a nice aroma and taste to the thick coffee.

While other modern coffeeshops keep on raising their prices, using inflation as a convenient excuse, Heap Seng Leong’s beverages remain affordable, which is a good news to the elderly living in this estate.

heap seng leong kopitiam6 north bridge road

So the next time you pass by North Bridge Road, show your support by having a cup of kopi or a plate of Hokkien mee at Heap Seng Leong, because how much longer will this old kopitiam last? Nobody knows.

chin hin eating house tanglin halt

While writing this article, another old kopitiam is about to cease its operation soon.

Chin Hin Eating House, established at Tanglin Halt since 1976, has decided to call it a day at the end of February 2014. The aging housing district, commonly known as chup lau (tenth floor) is slated for demolition and redevelopment.

chin hin eating house2 tanglin halt

chin hin eating house3 tanglin halt

Published: 26 February 2014

Posted in Cultural, Nostalgic | 6 Comments

“Rediscovering” My Childhood Toys

I was doing some spring cleaning for Chinese New Year two weeks ago, and “rediscovered” a box of toys which I have played during childhood. The box has been hidden in a corner of the storeroom for many years, and I have long forgotten that I once spent many hours playing with these plastic figurines.

my vintage toys 80s

my vintage toys2 80s

Flimsy and covered with flashes and burrs, these cheap plastic toys, most of them made in China, would probably fail the quality tests by today’s standard. Nevertheless, they were still fun to play with, as they stretched a child’s imagination in building a miniature farm or zoo. It also helped in his learning and identifying of different species of animals.

my vintage toys3 80s

Children today may shun these types of “boring” toys; they probably prefer playing their virtual zoos or other games on smart phones and tablets.

my vintage toys4 80s

Hippopotamus and rhinoceros. Two of the long English words I first came across as a kid.

my vintage toys5 80s

The green leopard and red kangaroo do seem a little odd here, but the colours of other animals are quite reasonably accurate.

my vintage toys6 80s

my vintage toys7 80s

They even come in the shapes of different types of dinosaurs!

my vintage toys8 80s

Of cos, a boy’s masak-masak would not be completed without toy soldiers.

my vintage toys9 80s

Influenced by the Western culture, figurines in the forms of cowboys and Red Indians were also common. But I later realised that there were stereotypical depictions: the cowboys were always deemed as cool and heroic, while the Red Indians were backwards and barbaric.

my vintage toys10 80s

McDonald’s figurine collectibles were also popular back then.

my vintage toys11 80s

The good old Lego toys that remain popular today.

Like many other boys of my generation, my favourite toys were the Transformers and M.A.S.K., but I never managed to own any sets. I remember I used to loiter at the toy departments of Yaohan or OG, looking enviously at the different types of Autobots and Decepticons and telling myself I would buy them all when I grow up. I never did.

Do you still keep your childhood toys?

Published: 15 February 2014

Posted in Nostalgic | 12 Comments

A Different Chinese New Year Celebration

Some traditions survive the test of time. Others disappear due to certain circumstances. Lion dances, angpows, Mandarin oranges and auspicious couplets have always been the items commonly seen in Chinese New Year celebrations in Singapore. More than 40 years ago, there was also another item deemed indispensable for the most important festival for the local Chinese. It was the firecracker.

firecrackers 1971


The origin of firecracker was said to have dated back to the Song Dynasty of China (960-1279). It was first intended for driving away evil spirits that caused illnesses, but over time, it became an integral part of joyous events and festivals. In Singapore, firecrackers were also widely and popularly used during Chinese New Year and festivals of other races such as Deepavali and Hari Raya.

letting off firecrackers 1968

“Cracker Wars”

In the sixties, “cracker wars” were rampant, especially in the downtown area around North Bridge Road. During the zhap goh meh or Yuan Xiao Jie (the 15th and last day of the Lunar New Year), Chinese businessmen would compete with each others by hanging and letting off long firecrackers at their shophouses. Packets of firecrackers would also be thrown indiscriminately onto the roads, sometimes posing a danger to the motorists and pedestrians.

letting off firecrackers2 1968

During the Lunar New Year period in 1970, joy was turned into grievance after more than three firecracker-caused fires broke out at areas around North Bridge Road, Aljunied Road and MacKenzie Road. A total of six people died, almost 70 were injured and eight shops burnt down. Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew described the unfortunate incidents as madness, and was determined to eradicate the usage of firecrackers.

Firecracker Ban

In March 1970, the legislation was passed by the parliament to clamp down on the indiscriminate firing of crackers. Offenders would face a harsh fine or imprisonment. In the next two years, the ban was partially lifted during the Chinese New Year, with designated places opened for the public to let off firecrackers. However, some ignored the restriction and continued to fire crackers at will.

letting off firecrackers3 1968

letting off firecrackers4 1968

On the Chinese New Year eve in 1972, two police constables were attacked by six men at Upper Serangoon Road when they tried to stop them from firing crackers at a non-designated location. It proved to be the last straw, as the government later announced a total ban on firecrackers. In June that year, the Dangerous Fireworks Bill was passed in the parliament. Firecrackers became an illegal item and Chinese New Year celebrations in Singapore would never become the same again.

“Pop Pop”pop pop pellets

In the late eighties and early nineties, the “Pop Pop” pellets became hugely popular with their crackling sounds when thrown to the ground, simulating the noise of firecrackers. Many kids would buy and throw the pellets down onto the void decks and staircases in large numbers. Unsuprisingly, they were also later banned in Singapore.

Published: 30 January 2014

Posted in Nostalgic | 2 Comments

Nostalgic Coloured Photos of Lim Tua Tow Market

Between the sixties and nineties, there were two famous and popular wet markets along Upper Serangoon Road. One was the Simon Road Market at lark kok jio (6th milestone), while the other was the Lim Tua Tow Market at gor kok jio (5th milestone). Both had served the Hougang community well for more than three decades, until their demolitions in the nineties.

My aunts, who were previously from Kampong Chia Keng, have always spoken of their fond memories of the Lim Tua Tow Market, which stood at the junction of Lim Tua Tow Road and Tech Chye Terrace. Chia Keng was located at the other end of Lim Tua Tow Road, where the Serangoon Stadium is standing today.

Recently, I came across an informative website CommunityWalk that has carefully mapped out many old landmarks at Upper Serangoon Road, such as the former Kok Wah Cinema, Lim Ah Pin Clinic, Ba Khia Hng (Crocodile Garden) and Sing Hua School. To my delight, it also contains many rare coloured photos of Lim Tua Tow Market in the eighties. For those who once lived in this vicinity, let’s enjoy a trip down the memory lane.

lim tua tow market2 1980s

lim tua tow market4 1980s

lim tua tow market5 1980s

lim tua tow market8 1980s

lim tua tow market3 1980s

lim tua tow market9 1980s

lim tua tow market10 1980s

lim tua tow market11 1980s

lim tua tow market 1980s

lim tua tow market12 1980s

lim tua tow market14 1980s

lim tua tow market15 1980s

(All the photos above are credited to CommunityWalk Upper Serangoon)

Today, the only remnants of old Lim Tua Tow Road are the two rows of shophouses still standing in the vicinity. In recent years, there are plans to turn this place into a F&B enclave but the results are not encouraging.

lim tua tow road 2011

Published: 18 January 2014

Posted in Nostalgic | 5 Comments