5.1 Places To Cherish This National Day Before They’re Gone For Good

Although our urban landscape is ever-changing, along the way, we find that the spaces we live, play and work in help shape our identity as Singaporeans. As we celebrate 51 years of Independence, here’s a look at a few of the places we’re already missing this National Day.


Built in 1977, Rochor Centre will make way for the new North-South Expressway come September 2016.

3 decades and more years of memories here. My grandpa stays here and we always visit every weekend. He’s lived at Rochor Centre since Day One, 39 years ago. He feels sad, of course, as he practically knew everyone here. He used to go down every day to walk. I’ll miss our gatherings, where close to 40 of us over four generations would squeeze into a 3-room flat every weekend.

Recently, we had grandpa’s birthday celebration, and instead of the usual celebration at a restaurant, we thought it would be nice to hold it here. His name is Mr Lim, and he’s the founder of Johor Road Boon Kee Porridge, by the way. He’s 91 this year.

Siang Hwee is a Workers’ Party volunteer in Punggol East SMC.
(Photo credit: Siang Hwee)


Singapore’s oldest wildlife park will be relocated to Mandai by 2020.

I remember having quite the experience with my family when we visited Jurong Bird Park when I was younger. Its open concept was something I really loved, especially in land-scarce Singapore. Even though younger Singaporeans will not be aware of the “Jurong Bird Park” we have come to know and love over the years, perhaps the move to Mandai is timely. I hope its integration into the Mandai area will uphold world-class standards in wildlife protection and conservation. While we may reminisce about Jurong Bird Park, I’m excited to see what Singapore has up her sleeves to showcase our feathered friends for all to treasure and marvel at.

Leon Nicholas recently ORDed from Full-time National Service, and is a new resident of Hougang SMC.
(Photo credit: Leon Nicholas)



Established in the 1930s, Sungei Road’s flea market may soon have to make way for a new MRT station in the Downtown Line.

Sungei Road was a place I frequented as a uni student, those very first years of adulthood when some friends and I hung out in the rickety-crikety spots of Singapore near Jalan Besar and Little India enclaves, where later Prince of Wales opened, (with its) drum n’ bass scene and those nights at Amara, the boys with their dreadlocks… – the halcyon days of my youth. My first purchase was a blue weaved sling bag for $2. Soon, ‘Sungei Road will be erased.’ It sounds cruel but that is exactly what will happen.

The 80 year old market has been here since World War 2, some vendors have been peddling their wares for 40 years. The area was halved by authorities 2011. And when the spanking new Sungei Road MRT station opens, it’ll perhaps be too much of an oddball for redevelopment officers to accept.

I feel sorry there is so little space for oddity and differences in our multicultural Singapore. These vendors do not need a lot of space; they are reasonable, understanding people who would abide by the rules—such as packing up before 7pm and keeping the place clean. There are various alternative proposals for the relocation of the market to a nearby space, such as along the field at Kelantan Lane, or at Jalan Kubor.

The only space we really need, is space in our minds to accommodate differences and sometimes allow spontaneity and randomness to thrive. We don’t build culture by deliberate construction. It accumulates when it has space to grow and develop over time.

Mindy Tan is a documentary photographer whose work examines the human condition. The above was adapted, with permission, from her Facebook post.  Check out her work here.
(Photo credit: Mindy Tan)



Home to lush greenery and formerly to Bidadari Cemetery and Mount Vernon Crematorium, Bidadari will be known by future generations of Singaporeans as another HDB town. 

I lived in the Bidadari-Mount Vernon area all my life, and Bidadari was like a public nature park to me. For Mount Vernon, not only were there a string of schools in the area, but it was the final resting place for a good number of relatives and friends of mine over the decades. So it is rather saddening to see these places disappear.

Liew Kai Khiun is an Assistant Professor in Communication and Information at the Nanyang Technological University.


Big Splash at East Coast Park is set to close its doors on 21 October 2016, after 40 years of operation.

I remember Big Splash fondly. I recall being really excited about going on those massive and colourful slides but there was this particular slide which was the highest and longest. It was red. I had wanted to go on it; yet, I was not brave enough.

My younger brother on the other hand probably was a little scared too, but he went on it anyways! Unfortunately though, he didn’t land well and hurt his foot. Very quickly, one of the staff came and dressed his wound up with a purple solution. It was a day I recall vividly, because of the many emotions I experienced from just one outing. I was proud of my brother but at the same time felt pain when I saw him injured and crying. It made me realise just how much I cherished my brother from a very young age. Family, to me, means everything.

It does sadden me to see that this icon of the East has to go but at the same time, the practical side of me also understands it’s costly to maintain, and young people today might not enjoy this sort of entertainment unless it’s upgraded to a more modern facility. Hopefully, the young of this generation would have a memorable place that they can think of and reminisce fondly in the future, too.

Cheryl Denise Loh is a member of the WP Youth Wing Executive Committee and stood as one of our candidates for Nee Soon GRC in GE2015.
(Photo credit: Jeraldine Phneah)



Why 5.1? Because Katong Shopping Centre only might be redeveloped (fingers crossed!). Recently put up for sale, the characteristically blue and orange shopping centre built in 1971 may soon go the way of several old shopping centres these days – redeveloped with a brand new look.

Katong Shopping Centre was where I went for my first ever karaoke experience at Teo Heng! I’ve only ever gone to Katong for Teo Heng actually. During my JC days, I would go there with my classmates because they had a discount for a few hours of karaoke. It was generally an ideal place for students tight on cash to sing away for about 6 hours straight! We would go to have fun during the holidays, because all else we ever did together was study. Must-haves at Teo Heng in Katong? Queen and Bon Jovi! Lady Gaga is a new favourite.

I’d certainly miss the shopping centre if it were to be redeveloped. To me and many others who’ve studied in the East, karaoke is synonymous with Katong Shopping Centre!

Maheswari Balakrishnan is a young teacher and a long-time resident of Hougang SMC.

Written by WP Newsdesk volunteers ~

The Workers’ Party wishes all Singaporeans a Happy 51st National Day!