Thursday, December 29, 2016

Our Training as a Volunteer Policemen so far....

VSC 92 Formal Shot!!
VSC 92 Informal Shot!!
So, yesterday night, we crossed thru the biggest hurdle of our training and are on our way to becoming full-fledged volunteer police officers. To celebrate, thought I'd share exclusive photos of our training so far as a volunteer special constabulary (VSC) officers.
VSC 92, full squad
Taken with my laptop. Me and Zhen Quan
Mirror selfie with Gowtham, sorry buddy. Wasn't paying attention. 
Me and Runni
Fooling around during class with Runni and Sheriann.
Me and the ladies. Whateever would I needs a "fiancee" for?? Haha

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Post Number 98

Thought I share some of my thoughts and what is going on in my life so far.

National Service and Reservist Obligations 

"Regiment Melayu Mat Yo Yo Pertama"
Sometime back, I had a good catch up with my national service buddies, in particular, the HQ1SIB "First Mat Yo Yo Malay Regiment", the little social group we called ourselves. I don't know when was the last time we had a reunion, but it sure is great having that much need catch up. Oh and speaking of NS, the very next day, I was to report to Jurong Camp for my ICT
The bunch of guys since m NSF days till Reservist.
So I just ended my third cycle of reservist last week on the 16th. That was our unit's last low key ICT and the subsequent ones will all be high key, meaning a longer stay in camp for the next 7 years. I actually came down with a slight flu one day before my ICT started. By the 2nd day of ICT, it got worst. I wasn't able to breathe through my nose properly and suffered insomnia. So the next morning, I went to the medical center to get some meds. MO also gave me light duty, meaning that all my plans for a passing attempt at IPPT got screwed, and that I'll have to do RT.... Damn it... Regardless, this time round, I was lucky as I was able to skip all the exercises and physical activity.
Met a fellow Aetos colleague in camp.
While helping to clear stores, I also met my working colleague in camp. It was his very first ICT.
901 SIR HQ Coy QM Branch
The above photo was on the final day, before we out-pro. Looking forward to the next seven years of ICT with the guys again! ~~Yang Pertama Dan Utama

Back in Blue After a Week of Green

Finally, a "Home Team" name tag bearing my name.
My intake collected our uniforms, at Home Team Academy. For me, I had several issues with my pants size that I had to exchange for a bigger size. Training has been going well so far, cleared my IPPT and out Law exam is coming up.
Me and SPF celebrity, SGT Victoria Hay!!
Got my free SPF FRC model!
And I also went to the SPF roadshow at Toa Payoh with my family. For me, as I have been to various police exhibitions before, it was all too familiar for me, but as my family tagged along, I sort of became their guide. It was an eye opening experience for them. Oh and I also took a photo with one of the SPF's poster officers.
First photo of myself in full SPF uniform
Well, I'd like to end my post by sharing with you my first ever photo in the police uniform. I have to say, I look really awkward and fat here. Damnit... ~~Setia dan Bakti

Friday, December 2, 2016

Malay Road Toponyms 26 and Epilogue

Malay Road Toponyms 26 

Apparently, I've missed two...

Previous - Malay Road Toponyms 25

Jalan Belang
     جالن بلڠ

Located off Upper Thomson Road, what is left of this road is merely a short path that leads to a SP PowerGrid Substation. The sign on the substation still bares the name "JLN BELANG", after the road, making it the remaining legacy of Jalan Belang. Jalan Belang and its sister road, Lorong Pelita was formerly an address to residential houses. It disappeared from maps in 1994.

Directly translated to "stripes" from Malay, the word "Belang" however in the name of this road refers to the tiger. In the kampung days, it was considered taboo to refer to any wild animal by its common name when one is out in the jungle, thus "si belang" was used to refer to tigers instead.

Jalan Gali Batu
   جالن ڬلي باتو

As of August 2016, an access road off Woodlands Road near Gali Batu MRT Depot has the sign bearing "Jalan Gali Batu". Apparently the road has been realigned to the perimeter of the depot. Jalan Gali Batu literally translates to "Excavate Rock Road". The road name is a legacy to the former Mandai Quarry of the Mandai Granite Company in the 50s.

Other Lost Malay Roads

Due to extensive reserch in this project, I also discovered that many other bloggers have made an effort to reserch on lost Malay roads in Singapore. Their research is very in depth and it is worth mentioning here despite being expunged.

Lorong Bistari
 لوروڠ بيستاري

My impression of Lorong Bistari 90s era Street Sign
Lorong Bistari as of September 2016
This old track off Choa Chu Kang Way became expunged in the mid-2010s. Lorong Bistari was taken off official maps and street directories. Its street sign was removed in late 2015. Despite this, traces of the old road surface and its lampposts can still be seen as of September 2016. Formerly a military installation access road, it is currently closed off and restricted to the public. Bistari is the older Malay spelling of "Bestari" meaning "intelligent", "educated", "knowledgeable".
Lorong Bistari on

Lorong Gaung
    لوروڠ ڬاوڠ

My impression of Lorong Gaung 60s era Street Sign
The supposed location of Lorong Gaung off Clementi Road.
Lorong Gaung (Translates to "Ravine Lane") was the former entrance of the old Maju Camp off Clementi Road.  In 2014, the final traces of Lorong Gaung can be seen by metal poles blocking off vegitation. Today, in the photo above taken in September 2016, no traces of the road can be seen.
Old Tracks, New Trail (1) - The Bridge on the River U.Pandan
Ulu Pandan Heritage Trail (9) – The Lost Railway Line: Part 1

Lorong Panchar
    لوروڠ ڤنچر

My impression of Lorong Panchar 60s era Street Sign
Lorong Panchar in 2015. Credit: Google Streetview
Expunged in 1997, the remnants of Lorong Panchar can see be seen in 2015. The southern area of the track was known for the former Hock Eng Seng Hokkien Cemetery which was exhumed in 1995. The name "Lorong Panchar" (Currently spelled as "Pancar") is Malay for "Sprouting", derived from a regular occurance of water flowing out in gushes from the surrounding hills and into road, hence the name.
Goodmorningyesterday: Lost Roads: Lorong Panchar


As I have finally completed my most extensive project and met my goal of documenting every Malay road name in Singapore,

Me and ex-fiancee at Jalan Haji Alias
I specially want to thank my ex-fiancee, who has been thru thick and thin with me ever since the project started. She personally accompanied, uncovered the meanings behind some of the road names, assisted me in research and gave me moral support throughout. My family for directly giving me the meanings behind some of the names I don't understand

It has been a tiring phase for me, and I honestly felt at first that it would never end. In the beginning, I really didn't work out a systemic system on how to document the roads and I ended up going back to the previous locations as I have overlooked one or two roads in the area. Other challenges include the lighting, angle and height of the road sign, traffic and curious pedestrians, some of them even thought that I was about summon them.

In the process, as many of these Malay road names are located in private landed housing estates, I quickly became immune to barking dogs behind the gates of landed housings. Some residents also asked me why am I taking photos of their street signs and I simply replied, its for my school project.

Learning Journey

Reflecting back, it has been a learning journey for myself. I have begun to appreciate our history and the Malay language itself.

It is sad to see that most of these Malay road names are minor short lanes within landed housing estates. Some road that I personally feel that have great and deep meaning such as "Jalan Kemajuan" and "Jalan Bahagia" are fated to be short minor lanes in landed estates and are obscured from the
general public.

One thing I'd like to point out in regards to the spelling of the Malay roads in Singapore. A bit of background here; In 1972, Malaysia and Indonesia made an a agreement to replace the Za'ba and Congress spelling systems respectively to unify the orthography of both the Malay and Indonesian languages. Called the "Ejaan Rumi Baharu" (Malay for "New Rumi Spelling") was formally adapted by Malaysia, Indonesia and later Brunei. Part of the agreement was that names of roads, places, and institutions had to undergo a change in appearance, using the new spelling system.

By this time however, despite being the "National Language" of the state, the status of the Malay language as Singapore's lingua franca has been largely displaced by English and Mandarin. Meaning that there has never been anything official on Singapore's part on her stand on the new spelling.

Because of this, most of the roads in Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei have progressively been renamed to match the current spelling, the Malay roads in Singapore retained their older spelling and have remained unchanged till this day. Notable examples include "Jalan Buroh", "Jalan Ma'mor" and "Jalan Kampong Chantek"  is still spelled as such rather than the current spelling of "Buruh", "Makmur" and "Kampung Cantik" respectively.

While researching thru historic maps, I've also found many unique Malay road names that have been expunged. This include "Lorong Handalan", "Lorong Harapan", "Jalan Mendaki"

Malay Road Names in Other Countries

"Jalan Orchard Boulevard" in Batam, Indonesia - Named after a road in Singapore
Also, roads that begin with the street suffix "Jalan" not only exists in Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia, but also in Colombo, Sri Lanka and Australia, particularly in the Overseas Australian Territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Island where there is a sizable Malay population. Special exceptions are granted by the Australian Government to name roads using Malay suffixes.

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Jalan Padang, misspelled as "Jln Pandan" in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has a road bearing the name "Jalan Padang" in the city of Colombo, thanks to the Malay minority of Sri Lanka. Named after "The Padang", the area is of great significance to the Sri Lanka Malay community as the Sri Lanka Malay Association is located there. The association's role is to unite and upkeep the Malay identity and culture of Sri Lanka alive. Roads in Colombo usually use the street suffix "Road" or "Mawatha" (Meaning "Avenue" in Sinhala). However in the case of Jalan Padang, to honor the Sri Lankan Malays, the Colombo Municipal Council agreed to name the road as such, making Jalan Pandan the only road in the country to completely bare a full Malay name.
Malay Street in Colombo, near to Jalan Padang. (Google Streetview)
Though not a "Malay Road Name", this gets an honorary mention. Another longer main road in Colombo, there is a "Malay Street", named in honor of the Sri Lankan Malays.

Australia (Christmas Island)

Jalan Ketam Merah on Christmas Island
Formerly a part of Singapore, Christmas Island, Australia today is home to a number of former Singaporeans, including Malays and Chinese ethnic groups. There are a few roads that bare Malay names. Traffic signs are also multilingual with English, Malay and Mandarin translations being displayed.

- Jalan Guru
- Jalan Ketam Merah
- Jalan Masjid
- Jalan Pantai
- Jalan Perak
- Jalan Pantai
- Lorong Kampong Melayu
- Taman Sweetland

Australia (Mainland)

After extensive research, I found one Malay road name in the Australian mainland. Jalan Garti Road, Bidyadanga, Western Australia.

Australia (Cocos (Keeling) Island)

Like Christmas Island, as there is a sizable Malay population, this special provision applies to Cocos (Keeling) Island as well.
Jalan Kipas and Jalan Bunga Kangkong on Cocos Island
A street sign bearing the name "Jalan Bunga Mawar" in Cocos Island

Map of Home Island, Cocos (Keeling) Island. The roads there bare Malay names.

With the Malay residents located in Bantam Village, Home Island (Known in Malay as Pulau Selma) of the Cocos (Keeling) Island, the roads there bare Malay names. The complete list of Malay road names include:

- Jalan Baru
- Jalan Belakang Pulu
- Jalan Balok Memorial
- Jalan Bunga Kangkong
- Jalan Bunga Mawar
- Jalan Edit
- Jalan Jukong
- Jalan Kampong Atas
- Jalan Kebun
- Jalan Kembang Geribang
- Jalan Kembang Molok
- Jalan Kipas
- Jalan Masjid
- Jalan Melati
- Jalan Padang
- Jalan Pantai
- Jalan Raya
- Jalan Rel
- Jalan Sempit
- Jalan Tanah Tinggi.

Proposals and Thoughts

Multilingual signs of Chinatown. (Current and previous)
Multilingual signs of Little India. (Current and previous)
Sireet sign within Geylang Serai. (Current and previous)
In the above photos, you can see that in Chinatown and Little India, you can see that the street signs are depicted in both Latin alphabet and Chinese Characters and Tamil Script respectively. These signs are a continuation of the 1992 signs that were put up in certain areas of Singapore.

The purpose of these signs is to "remind Singaporeans of the historical significance of these areas" in an attempt to underscore and provide character to the respective Chinese, Indian and Malay areas, most notably, Chinatown, Little India and Geylang Serai respectively.

The 1992 "cultural" signs have the following distinctive features in their respective places. In Chinatown, the signs are in red and pink, feature a little pagoda on its pole and the street's name Latin with Chinese Characters. In Little India, the signs are in green, with a lotus decorated on the pole's top with the street's name in Latin in tandem with Tamil script below it. However in stark contrast to Geylang Serai, the signs are in turquoise, with the pole's top decorated with a Minangkabau kampung house. But the disappointment is that the street name featured only Latin script and no Jawi as what the Malay language was traditionally written in.
Street signs in Bandaraya Melaka and Johor Bahru.
In Malaysia, some states, particularly Johor, Melaka and Kelantan have bilingual street signs in both Latin and Jawi script. However, I would not suggest to put the Jawi script signage along every Malay road name in Singapore. Only those roads in the Geylang Serai and Kampong Gelam area similar to the bilingual signs of Chinatown and Little India.
Bilingual Street sign of Geylang Serai (Latin and Jawi)
Bilingual Street sign of Kampong Gelam (Latin and Jawi)
The above photos are my illustrations on how the bilingual street signs should look like. In similar contrast to those in Chinatown and Little India, the Latin script is above the Jawi script and features a smaller sign with a sample illustrating and denoting the area within. This feature is similar in some private landed estates which features a decorative marker denoting the estate's name on the street sign.
Area where the bilingual Latin and Jawi street signs be implemented.
Area where the bilingual Latin and Jawi street signs be implemented.

My Proposal to Name the Viaduct Cutting Across Bukit Brown Cemetery

My e-mail to LTA to name a road in Singapore
In my personal capacity and effort, I have put in a proposal and request to the Land Transport Authority to name a very controversial road in Singapore; the currently constructed (As of November 7th 2016) viaduct cutting through the old Bukit Brown Cemetery.
Bukit Brown Cemetery in 1972 maps.
Being a daily road user of Lornie Road to commute to and from work, I noticed the construction of a very controversial viaduct cutting across Bukit Brown Cemetery. I decided to give my feedback to LTA to name the road as "Jalan Bukit Brown". Naturally, as the road is cutting thru Bukit Brown Cemetery, it was a natural choice to name the road after it. The reason why I suggested "Jalan" instead of "Road" street suffix was because there was in fact an expunged "Bukit Brown Road" in the area in the 1920s.
My impression of the Jalan Bukit Brown Sign
Also, the surrounding area has roads baring Malay names; expunged roads Jalan Mendaki, Jalan Berahi and Jalan Mashhor where the Bukit Brown MRT is and the cemetery entrance itself, Lorong Halwa. By naming the viaduct as "Jalan Bukit Brown", it matches the road names of the surrounding areas and the name has a certain ring to it, similar to "Jalan Bukit Merah", rather than "Bukit Brown Road". Another argument I am making is that Malay is our National Language and the state has also not name a road in Malay since the early 70s. It is only fair to name one Malay road to replace the historic and expunged once over the decades.


Me and the 90s era "Jalan Bahagia" street sign
In conclusion, as Malays are an indigenous minority in Singapore, with regards to Bahasa Melayu being the national language, Malay street names do provide a sense of uniqueness, cultural outlet and above all else, a so called remaining Malayan identity (And the few we have left to hold on). Being mostly implemented on many roads in the 60s and 70s by the late Lim Yew Hock administration and later as a state of Malaysia, the Malay street names are a reminder and legacy of a pre-independent nation struggling to break away from colonialism as it forges to identify itself with the Nusantara region as a whole and respecting the status of the Malay race as the indigenous people of the land.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Memory of Masjid Darul Ghufran Before the Upgrading

As a young boy, I grew up in the new town of Tampines. My primary and secondary school days were mostly filled with wonderful memories there. On Friday for the weekly Friday prayers, me and my classmates would go to the nearby (In fact, the only mosque in Tampines) Masjid Darul Ghufran.
Masjid Darul Ghufan, December 2015.
In the 2015 Singapore Budget, it was first announced that the mosque would be upgraded and slated to complete in 2016. Personally, I welcomed the news as the mosque does in fact face overcrowding and overcapacity during Friday prayers. And its also about time that the mosque got itself an extensive upgrade.
Artist's impression of the upgraded mosque.
The model.
Another angle.
The current mosque and its history.
Prospective new floor plan
New main prayer hall.
But looking back, growing up with the mosque, a sense of nostalgia overwhelmed me. I also decided it was time to take some pictures and preserve its current state in photos and media before the upgrading begins.


Darul Ghurfan before 1997. Courtesy of the National Archives Singapore
A little bit of history here. Masjid Darul Ghufran was completed and opened to the public on 7th December 1990. It was officially opened later by Member of Parliament  Marine Parade GRC at that time, Haji Othman Harun Eusofe, on 13th July 1991. It is the 2nd largest mosque in terms of capacity at that time with a capacity to hold 4000 people and floor area of 4,063 sq meters.

In 1997, the original brick surface suffered structural brick wall failure and buckled before collapsing. After minor repairs, the problem persisted and a full-scale building renovation was decided and the mosque earned its trademark blue color. Residents of Tampines nicknamed the mosque, "Menara Biru" (Blue Minaret in Malay).
The crowd during Friday prayers
But over the years, for as long as I can remember, the mosque faces overcrowding and overcapacity that worshipers had to pray outside the mosque's premises. After Masjid Al-Istigfar was built in Pasir Ris, there was slight improvement, but still faced major overcrowding some years later.

Old State of the Mosque

In light of the mosque's upgrading, I decided to document the mosque in its current state as of December 2015, somewhat as a keepsake to remind myself on how the mosque used to look like. I went there on two separate occasions. One on a Friday after Friday prayers, where the Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs himself, Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim was present to grace the launch of the mosque upgrading initiative. And another occasion on a weekday, where there were less worshipers around.

Level 1 Perimeter

So, let us start with the outside perimeter of the building. As stated before, the mosque's iconic blue color was decided upon after the original brick wall buckled and collapsed on two separate occasions.
Viewed from the western end of the property.
The western perimeter.
The eastern perimeter of the building 
Along the western perimeter of the mosque, the shipping containers are actually remnants of the construction workers' dormitories during the 1997 upgrading of the mosque. The containers are retained, painted blue to match the mosque and upgraded as classrooms for the mosque's religious school.
The former shipping containers recycled as classrooms.
Entrance into the classrooms
As viewed from one of the staircases.
The garden near the classrooms.
North side of the mosque, the rear of the building.

Level 1 Interior

The qibla wall of the mosque.
The mihrab and  minbar.
The main prayer hall after Friday prayers.
After the 1997 upgrade, the carpeting was changed from maroon to blue as seen in the above picture.
The kindergarten area at the southern end of the main prayer hall. 
The void as viewed from the mihrab.
Outside the main prayer hall foyer
The office facade was added after the 1997 upgrade.

Ablution Area.

Ablution area, level 1.
Ablution area, level 1.
Ablution area, level 1.
Ablution area was fairly simple, decorated with white tiles. During Friday prayers, it could get overcrowded. Ablution areas were only available on levels one and two, with the upper floor reserved for the women except for Friday prayers.

Level 2

Level 2 Prayer Area during regular days.
After Friday Prayers.
On regular days, the level 2 prayer hall was reserved for women worshipers. The madarsah's offices and some of its classrooms are also located there.
The classroom makeshift as a prayer hall during Friday prayers.
Hallway of the classroom areas in level 2.
Hallway of the classroom areas in level 2.
The above photos were taken during after Friday prayers with the Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim attending an event announcing the mosque's upgrading. Which explains the table in the middle of the classroom area.

Level 3

Level 3 Praying Hall
The void as viewed from level 3.
Level 3 is usually opened for Friday prayers and on that day, most of the worshipers who would go there are students and teenagers. There are also two classrooms on that level, usually reserved for the kindergarten classes.
Add caption
The staircase as viewed from the top level.
The Staircases in the mosque are named after historical books. Due to overcrowding during Friday prayers, worshipers also pray in the staircase areas. At the bottom of the stairs, the area becomes a makeshift shoe rack and area where school children place their school bags during Friday prayer. 

Final Thought and Conclusion

Through this post, I hope to have captured at least some memory of the mosque's state before its being upgraded. Currently, some parts of the mosque has already been demolished as it is being upgraded. Squeezing into the temporary mosque next to the swimming complex is something that we in the community have to bear, but nevertheless, we will be looking forward to the upgraded mosque once it has been completed.