A little nostalgia of the colonial past

Top pic is the refurbished Victoria Theatre coming to life again.  In front of the theatre is a monument marking the visit of a Marquis of Dalhouise, the Governor General of British India in 1850 in making Singapore a free port. The pic was taken in a quiet Sat evening. Sitting there one could imagine a few colonial Englishmen appearing from a corner of the road like a few hundred years ago.

There were some flashback of memories of visiting the General Post Office to send telegrams and to pay water and electricity bills. The GPO is now the Fullerton Hotel. And still could remember making my Identity Card at one of the colonial office building, very likely the current Asian Civilisation Centre.

The second pic is the aging semi circular underpath linking Empress Place with the Esplanade, called 'Under the 5 trees' or 'gor chang chiew kar' in Hokien. A famous place for the locals to visit in the evening in the 50s and 60s. Many senior citizens would have walked through this underpath with their girl/boy friends or with their families then.

The bottom pic is the Singapore River at dusk and the glow of some street lamps from the past, still preserved but no longer lit by oil.

Shot these pics a week before National Day and on my way back to Raffles Place station after shooting the NDP rehearsal at Marina Bay. The area was pretty quiet as the crowd was at the NDP.

Kopi Level - Green


Anonymous said...

The Asian Civilizations Museum I remember as the Empress Place in the old days. I remember climbing up the stairs there to visit my grandfather at work. He was the Comptroller of Immigration, a friend of Lim Yew Hock. Hundreds of coolies and rickshaw pullers came to seek 'citizenship' from him. He did not deny a single one. He was a civil servant of the old stamp - of incorruptible integrity, a first-class work ethic and gave sterling service. He risked his life many times over helping the POWs at Changi. An old RI boy and a graduate of Raffles College, pre-cursor of the University of Singapore, he was of Bugis-Arab lineage. Thanks Mr RB for rekindling some of the old memories.

Anonymous said...

The past, the present, the future.

They are all interconnected.

The earlier generations had worked very hard and put in tremendous sacrifices to bring us to 1984 economic development and progress.

Between 1984 to 2004, were we on the right track in economics and social policies?

How about from 2004 till present?

It is indisputable some very small minority has benefited from the economic development.

But, and it is a big BUT, is this the CORRECT way and the ONLY way to build a society sustainably?

With the NET erosion of trust happening and unlikely to change course in the foreseeable future given the situation and the MOUNTING "volcanic stress" due to "ill conceived and wishful thinking governance " and constantly BUILDING UP underneath the surface, how long would the present last before tumultuous circumstances emerge like "earthquakes and volcanic eruptions" inevitably and eventually?

Going by present ground development, it does not appear optimistic situations would get considerably better to reverse course or halt the downward spiral.

The nostalgia reminesced by RB may be replaced by painful and uncomfortable events down the road if present development continues on its self-generating vicious cycle and unsustainable mode.

Anonymous said...

George Orwell's 1984. Bad year. It was the year Pinky Loong was red-carpeted into the Cabinet. Papa Lee threw out the old guards to make life easier for his baby Loong. The old guards were not very happy about Papa Lee's dynastic ambitions and they were certainly not impressed with Baby Loong. The old guard were not really old. Many were still in their late 50's. Still in their prime. Papa Lee wanted only yes men: the second generation leaders - Woody and friends - who were easily cowed by Papa Lee. After the old guards we trotted out by Papa Lee (it was actually a bloodless coup) Singapore lost an entire team of dedicated, first-class minds. These men were the men that built modern Singapore. Papa Lee was merely their hatchet man. After 1984, Singapore went downhill. Politics in the PAP became very sycophantic. Pioneer PAP members were replaced by carriers of the Lee balls.

Anonymous said...

/// Pioneer PAP members were replaced by carriers of the Lee balls. ///

Yes. And Singaporeans happily supported the ball carriers.
So what are Singaporeans?
We are ball carriers of the ball carriers.

Anonymous said...

Anon // Yes. And Singaporeans happily supported the ball carriers.
So what are Singaporeans?
We are ball carriers of the ball carriers. //

Statement too sweeping.

To say 60.01% are is MORE accurate.

Otherwise, it negates the hard work, sacrifices and the fledging and flickering hope of the true blue.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi Anon 10:47,

Thanks for confirming that the Asian Civilisation is the former Immigration Office. I wasn't quite sure when I posted. The few colonial buildings in the area are very well conserved as a part of our history.

The past is over but still remembered by these buildings. The future is uncertain and it is not looking good from the comments here. And they are not isolated comments. In the Sunday Times today, Han Fook Kwang was worried about the huge income gap and wealth distribution. And Chok Tong made a speech about the increasing divide between people and govt, and of course it is the people's fault for criticising and creating the division.

I will take a closer look at his thoughts and try to write something about it.

Anonymous said...

Singapore politics has been going downhill and downhill it will continue to go, until when, no one knows. Please do not hope that the next GE will be the end of this downhill rush. The current situation will continue and continue. So to those 40% who is hoping for a change, do not expect too much changes, lest you will surely be disappointed. Period.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, well said anon 9.01.

40% did not vote for the ball carriers. Remember that!

Anonymous said...

ps. if you do not believe, just lisyen to the speech tonight

Anonymous said...

About Chok Tong's comment on the widening divide, may I ask who created that?

The PAP created divisive politics themselves. Those who cannot agree, out they go, denied upgrading and other facilities to those who cannot agree with them and voted opposition.

And who was the one who used upgrading as a carrot and stick method to win votes for the PAP?

Anonymous said...

They can't even see that they are naked.

Anonymous said...

Constructive Dismissal of the PAP Government
The 40% Singaporeans are engaging in a process of “constructive dismissal” of the PAP government.

What is “constructive dismissal”?
- it's being forced to resign like in a company when they make your working conditions unbearable.

Straits Times, 15 August 2014, page B3.
“No right to claim extra if ‘forced’ to resign: Court”

See also "civil disobedience".

Anonymous said...

Throughout history, but never learned by those thirty for power, that not all people can be totally controlled whatever the method used.

Physically they may obey by the use of force or threats, but you cannot control the minds of those who choose to disagree. That is why dynasties fell, empires crumbled, dictators deposed and conquerors eventually have to give up their spoils.

Anonymous said...

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.”

Anonymous said...


As Sinkies sink into the Abyss of no return, many will begin to be candid, spontaneous and TRUEFUL.
A dying man will be trueful and kind with his final parting words. Sorry to say, their kindness are always too late to save their own good names and the damages they did maybe irrepairable. As Rulers, please rule with conscience and compassion. Ruthlessness and greed will destroy not only the Society, your names and reputation will stink in history.


Anonymous said...

Strange that you paid your water and electricity bills at the GPO. I do not recall paying mine there. I paid them at the City Hall where the City Council was. You could even buy your gas stove there.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi Anon 1.20,

I could remember entering the Fullertone Building from the entrance at the Cavenagh Bridge. I also have faint memories of paying it at City Hall. You may be right. I can't confirm this as it was so long ago and I was just a kid then.

Anonymous said...

RB, you are right. Empress place was the old immigration department location and fullerton building was used by Inland revenue, post office that you can also pay your water and electricity bills.

I was there for all the functions

Anonymous said...

Wah! Got so many Pioneer Generation here.
But I thot you all are PAP voters?
How come?

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Ha, we grew up experiencing another Singapore and see the changes of time. The GPO was real big then.

Anonymous said...

Those who thought Pioneer Generation voters are PAP voters are sadly mistaken. But let the PAP think it is the reality. It is a blessing in disguise for the opposition.

Ⓜatilah $ingapura⚠️ said...

I miss the makan along the Esplanade. Most fuckers here are too young to even think that there was a happening "Satay Club" way back when.

BTW, there are 2 venues: Victoria Theatre and Victoria Memorial Hall.

Anonymous said...

A crazy animal has just escaped from the zoo after he was transferred there from IMH.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi Matilah, I thought the theatre part was a more recent development. In those days I remembered it was Victoria Memorial Hall with Stamford Raffles standing in front on a high pedestal. Can't remember which hand he put inside his pocket : )

Many young people went there to 'pat tor'. Not many places to do that. Maybe MacRitchie, Marine Parade beach and Botanic Garden.

Ⓜatilah $ingapura⚠️ said...


I tell you the young fuckers need some schooling about the "old days" lah. Empress Place area is not just hip shi shi "Indo Chine" where our well-heeled young go to spend their dot com cash. No it has rich history.

I remember not just immigration and income tax, but also the Treasury -- until MAS was formed. Those days the skepticism of central banking was still in the minds of the cuntree's fathers. We had a solid gold-backed currency back then.

If I recall Raffles right hand was tucked into his left inner pocket.

I used to love going to that area. Just a short walk to High Street and there was the original Polar Cafe.

And who could forget the GPO at Fullerton? The last post office to close...rush there on Sat afternoon to post stuff or draw from POSB. It was dark and foreboding. Now it is hip sna shi shi and over-priced.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Polar Cafe was quite the in thing then. I know the son while we were part time Special Constables with the red lanyard.

Ya, the Treasury was there, small little building.

I can't believe you said this: 'If I recall Raffles right hand was tucked into his left inner pocket.' Please go and confirm, right hand or left hand?

Anonymous said...

Ya, a true blue Singaporean would know the answer right away.

Ⓜatilah $ingapura⚠️ said...

@RB: My bad. I should have googled Raffles picture to check.

Tip for the day: Don't trust your memory! Always leave room for doubt!