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Choa Chu Kang, a fusion of serenity and modern living
Choa Chu Kang is a sparsely populated area. The modern facilities and tranquil scenery are interwoven with the unfailing love of the early villagers.
Choa Chu Kang has its origins set in the early 19th century when early Chinese settlers lived along the Peng Siang River. They moved further inland and fought with tigers for living spaces. The last local tiger was killed in Choa Chu Kang Village in 1930. In this era, people of various races and dialects were already sharing the common land harmoniously.
Choa Chu Kang’s agricultural development has gone through phases of gambier and pepper in the 19th century, and rubber and pineapple cultivation in the early 20th century. After Singapore’s independence, some farmers here branched out to orchid nurseries. Interestingly, when a U.S. fried chicken giant was looking to set up outlets in Singapore in the 1970s, farmers here also supplied chickens to the food chain.
Junction 10 is the midpoint of Singapore’s road networks. The century-old Malaysia railway was just next to it. Local folks would probably acquaint with the train and level crossing which had disappeared for more than a decade.
The area around Choa Chu Kang 12 mile is where the former Choa Chu Kang Village was located and has become Brickland Road today. The villages adjacent to it include Kampong Cutforth, where sugar cane was grown, Kampong Bereh with several fish ponds, Kampong Tengah facing the waterfront, and Lam Sam village which was named after a school.
After WWII, Nam San School started its education journey at the Tao Bu Keng Temple and a vacated warehouse. Ong Koh Bee, a community leader there, raised funds with other villagers in order to build a proper school. Eventually, the Nam San School became an icon of Choa Chu Kang. The Rural Board named that area Lam Sam Village and the road Jalan Lam Sam, all of which are after the school.
In 1990, South View Primary School was established by merging Nam San school with Ama Keng School in Lim Chu Kang.
The pioneers of Choa Chu Kang 13 and 14 mile moved from villages in Queenstown to make way for new town development in the 1950s. As the inhabitants moved hastily to the formerly deserted area, many of them could not even build their shelters fast enough and had to live under the roof of others.
The traditional places of worship here have their own characteristics. Masjid Al’Firdaus is a mosque surrounded by vegetable farms when first erected 6 decades ago. It resembles the serene nature of the old mosques generally marked by tower, crescent and star.
The Sri Arasakesari Sivan Temple, erected next to the railway corridor, has an exceptional style of Sri Lankan’s temple architecture. The temple is dedicated to the main deity Shiva, the God of Destruction, as well as Krishna, Ganesha, and Velmurugan.
When the Hai Inn Temple near the defunct Lam Sam village was founded about a century ago, it was a place solely for female devotees to learn and practice dharma. The China artist cum calligrapher Xu Bei Hong personally inked the words “海印寺” (Hai Inn Temple) which were then engraved onto the signboard.
The Choa Chu Kang Cemetery is a peaceful resting place for the dead. It is the only local cemetery for burial. The law requires that remains buried more than 15 years be exhumed and made available for others. However, by the 1990s, Singaporean had embraced cremation which made exhumation more of an afterthought. With the plan of relocating the Paya Lebar Air Base to the west, 80,000 Chinese and Muslim graves would have to give way for the Tengah Air Base expansion. Exhumation is inevitable now.