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Research: Cultural Heritage of Singapore’s Over-100-Years-Old Kinship-Based Clan Associations

In 2019, the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) invited the Singapore Heritage Society (SHS) to run a joint call for their Chinese Arts and Culture Research Grant, open exclusively to members of SHS. The grant was awarded to Lynn Wong Yuqing and Dr Lin Chia Tsun for the project, “Cultural heritage of Singapore’s over-100-years-old kinship-based clan associations”and the project was completed in March 2021.

Download the key findings report here.

The researchers presented their findings in two talks at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre on 13 and 14 Nov 2021. The talks can be viewed online at SCCC’s Facebook Page.

Policy Analysis Exercise: “Conserving our modern built heritage amidst collective sale fever: Addressing gaps in the collective sales process” (2019)

Singapore Heritage Society was the client organisation for this Policy Analysis Exercise by Masters in Public Policy students from the NUS Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP). The report was completed in March 2019 and can be downloaded in full here.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Singapore Heritage Society.

“Conserving our modern built heritage amidst collective sale fever: Addressing gaps in the collective sales process” (March 2019)
by Foo Mingyee, Monnaphat Jondeepaisal (Sai), Regina Marie Lee and Xu Qiaoqiao

Executive Summary

The collective sale of sites plays an important role in urban redevelopment in land-scarce Singapore. While collective sales are seen as a market-efficient strategy that benefits both residents and developers, little attention is paid to other aspects such as the historical, architectural or even socio-cultural elements of the building and its surroundings. In the last year, several prominent modernist landmarks such as Pearl Bank Apartments, People’s Park Complex and Golden Mile Complex (GMC) have been targeted as prime sites for collective sale, with Pearl Bank Apartments sold and slated for demolition soon. These three buildings are modernist icons highlight the achievements of local architects in Singapore’s post-independence era. GMC, a mixed-used commercial and residential building and enclave for the Thai community in Singapore, is used as the focal case of study.

Through our research, we studied the various policy instruments used to facilitate collective sales and identified the gaps in the process that allow for the premature destruction of buildings with high heritage and socio-cultural value. We noted that profit is the key factor driving the collective sales process. However, some users mourn the loss of socio-cultural ties and community roots with the sale of the site. Our fieldwork also highlights the disenfranchised role of tenants who have no say in the collective sale of a building despite their deep connection to the community and place. Our secondary research shone light on the various ways that urban redevelopment can occur without the necessary demolition of buildings and other strategies to keep the original communities intact. Furthermore, the research also brings out the various ways that buildings can be given a new lease of life without complete demolition, through adaptive reuse and stronger placemaking.

In view of our findings, we propose several policy recommendations to improve the process of collective sale and to prevent any unnecessary demolition by considering different forms of conservation. We propose a two-pronged strategy, considering the roles of the government and SHS, before a collective sale and after it occurs.

Before a strata-titled building is sold, we propose that the government can:
1. Tighten the criteria for collective sale of buildings;
2. Encourage better maintenance of older buildings;
3. Encourage representation of tenants and minority owners in the CSC;
while SHS can
1. Organize heritage awareness campaigns and encourage relevant stakeholders to prevent
the sale;
2. Promote and guide developers’ use of Heritage Impact Assessment, possibly through a

Should collective sale of a site occur, the government can pursue the following suggestions:
1. Encourage placemaking and adaptive reuse of a site by incentivising developers under the Strategic Development Incentive scheme, thereby conserving the site;
2. Mandate Heritage Impact Assessment for specific sites to mitigate the loss of heritage
while SHS can
1. Work with stakeholders of a site to highlight the heritage and cultural value and viability
of adaptive reuse and placemaking.

These recommendations emphasize the importance of the government’s collaboration with other stakeholders, such as developers and SHS, in improving the collective sales process. While there may be greater financial costs, this ensures a more holistic and equitable collective sales process that addresses the tangible as well as intangible value of a building and its interaction with its immediate community. Conservation through adaptive reuse is not a new concept in Singapore, but has mainly been limited to sites owned by the state or few owners. This project thus proposes changes to the collective sales process to encourage the conservation of strata-titled buildings.

Too Young To Die
Too Young to Die: Position Paper on Modernist Icons

SHS has released our Position Paper on the 3 Modernist Icons of Singapore: Pearl Bank Apartments, People’s Park Complex, and Golden Mile Complex. Download the paper here.

Three of Singapore’s most iconic and historically-significant buildings from the post-independence era — Pearl Bank Apartments, People’s Park Complex, and Golden Mile Complex, are currently at risk of collective sale and demolition. To date, no post-independence strata-titled modernist building in Singapore has received official conservation status. Given the historical and architectural significance of these buildings, the Singapore Heritage Society believes that it is timely for current land-use policies and regulatory frameworks to be re- evaluated to facilitate the conservation of modernist structures for adaptive reuse, and for private owners and developers to plan for a longer building lifespan incorporating evolving ideas for rehabilitation and regeneration.

Copy of Roots
August Roots Newsletter

Available online for reading

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Policy Analysis Exercise: “Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in Chinatown: Threats & Strategies” (2017)

Singapore Heritage Society was the client organisation for this Policy Analysis Exercise by Masters in Public Policy students from the NUS Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Policy (LKYSPP). The report was completed in December 2017 and can be downloaded in full here.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Singapore Heritage Society.


Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in Chinatown: Threats & Strategies
by Alisa Toh Qian Wen, Chee Wei Jia, Lai Jian Qin, Norman Maswari Aziz-Boey, Chester Matthias Tan Han Feng, Vanessa Chiam Hui Ting (Master in Public Policy, 2018)

Executive Summary:

Chinatown, like other historical districts in Singapore such as Kampong Glam, Little India and Boat Quay, has a rich history and cultural identity. These districts have been the subject of conservation efforts by the Government, but they primarily extend to the physical conservation of buildings and structures. In recent times, there has been commentary from certain segments of the public that Chinatown has lost much of its social fabric and is increasingly catering to the tastes of tourists. Also, it has been reported that property investors have been buying up conservation shophouses such as those in Kreta Ayer due to their perceived potential to appreciate in value, resulting in tenancy changes. All of this has led to a sense that Chinatown is gradually losing the character and vibrancy that it once had. This raises the question of whether conservation policy should go further to also protect other intangible aspects of Chinatown’s heritage and culture, such as practices, trades, knowledge and cultural spaces.

In the course of our research, a refrain that often emerged was that the intangible cultural heritage of Chinatown was under threat due to 1) a perceived loss of community spirit, 2) a perceived loss of authenticity, and 3) a highly competitive real estate market in Chinatown which has resulted in the displacement of some traditional trades and businesses. With respect to the last factor, we were unable to obtain sufficiently representative quantitative data to make specific conclusions about the property market and the displacement of traditional trades in particular. Nevertheless, our qualitative research shows that this has been experienced at least by some business owners in Kreta Ayer. In addition, it has also been pointed out that interactions between government agencies and other stakeholders such as business owners need to be improved. To address these issues, there needs to be, in the long term, a revival of interest from the general Singaporean community in Chinatown not just as a space, but as a place. Without an interest in the heritage of Chinatown, there is no demand generated for the goods,services and experiences in Chinatown, which not only affects the level of community participation in Chinatown, but also the survivability and renewal of businesses there. In the shorter term, there is a need to help traditional businesses remain relevant so that they can enhance their competitiveness and continue to thrive in Chinatown.

To this end, we propose three broad policy measures to be taken by the relevant agencies:
1) Setting up a dedicated statutory heritage trust (by the Government, spearheaded by Chinatown’s lead agency, the Singapore Tourism Board);
2) Improving the commercial viability of traditional trades and businesses (by the Singapore Tourism Board and the National Heritage Board, with the involvement of business owners and the Chinatown Business Association);
3) Revitalising Chinatown to attract the interest of youths (by the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens’ Consultative Committee, or the statutory heritage trust proposed above, with the involvement of the Ministry of Education, private organisations and others).

While we consider that the setting up of a heritage trust would be the most comprehensive proposal, we recognise that its successful implementation would likely require extensive consultations and feasibility studies, making it the least likely option to be implemented within the short-term. Thus, our other proposals for improving the commercial viability of traditional businesses and making Chinatown more attractive to youths, are measures that the relevant agencies could embark on simultaneously or alternatively.

Policy Analysis Exercise: “Striking the balance between heritage conservation and urban renewal in Singapore: Advocating for a mandatory Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) Regime” (2015)

Singapore Heritage Society was the client organisation for this Policy Analysis Exercise of the NUS Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Policy (LKYSPP). The report was completed in December 2015, and can be downloaded in full here.
Striking the balance between heritage conservation and urban renewal in Singapore: Advocating for a mandatory Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) Regime

by Trent Ng (Master of Public Policy, 2016)

Executive Summary:

The rapid redevelopment of the urban landscape in Singapore since independence ha had a major impact on many sites of cultural and heritage value in Singapore. There is currently no regulatory or legal requirement for the government, private developers or individuals to conduct Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) on such sites before attempting to redevelop it or modify its land use. Consequently to date, many historical sites, buildings and monuments rich in culture and history have been razed in the name of modernisation and development without a proper assessment of the resulting loss of culture and heritage.

A mandatory HIA regime in Singapore would require an assessment of the impact on both tangible and intangible heritage whenever a site of heritage value is considered for redevelopment or change in land use. While this practice would lead to a greater awareness of objects of national heritage and enable better-informed decisions to be made regarding redevelopment, the corollary of a mandatory HIA regime would also mean higher public accountability and compromises, leading to potential delays, a drop in optimum economic efficiency, and potentially even sacrificing whole redevelopment projects in the protection of national heritage.

How can an autochthonous HIA regime be tailored for the Singapore context, such as to balance the need for heritage protection with Singapore’s insatiable obsession with urban renewal and redevelopment; a balancing act which has almost always been heavily tilted by national ideologies of pragmatism and economic rationalism?Surveying the standards and best practices of HIA as it is practiced around the world before focusing on the Hong Kong HIA model as one which Singapore can emulate, this PAE advocates the implementation of a mandatory HIA regime in Singapore, detailing recommendations for a comprehensive HIA.

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Jalan-Jalan di Ubin – a guide to cultural heritage sites on Pulau Ubin

Download our tour handbook for a brief introduction to the tour stops at Pesta Ubin 2017

For Pesta Ubin 2017, the Singapore Heritage Society conducted a a special tour curated by Dr Vivienne Wee, our expert anthropologist, to the island’s little-seen heritage sites – including kampung houses, an old cemetery and a mangrove swamp. At each stop, villagers shared with us recollections from their past, their stories of their present, and their hopes for the future.

February Roots Newsletter

Available online and in PDF for download

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Bukit Brown Wayfinder and Self-Guided Tour

Check out the microsite for our Bukit Brown Wayfinder, launched on 18 Nov 2017

The Wayfinder is a self-guided trail along 25 tombs in Blocks 1 and 3 of the Bukit Brown Cemetery. Uncover the history and heritage buried in one of Singapore’s largest and last-remaining cemeteries.

More on Bukit Brown can be found here

World War II @ Bukit Brown

This collection of stories, essays and poems looks at the impact of the Japanese Occupation of Singapore in the Second World War (1942-1945) from the perspective of those interred at Bukit Brown Cemetery. The highlights of the book are stories shared by descendants from family oral archives and albums of their ancestors, some of whom survived and others who perished, during the darkest chapters of Singapore’s history.

Bukit Brown remains the largest cemetery in Singapore for the war dead in situ, and buried with them are many untold stories of bravery, resilience, tragedy, survival and, amid the darkness, hope. The book offers new material and insights into the human tragedy of war as an act of commemoration, thereby adding another layer to the already vast literature available on WWII in Singapore.

“The stories have taken us to the Endau Settlement in Johor, to Taiping (Malaysia) and to the battlefields of Europe in ways so unexpected they took our breath away,” said Claire Leow and Catherine Lim, the co-editors of the book. “It is a slow and at times painful unraveling of family history, lost in memory but for the persistence of descendants. It has taken seven decades for some of these fragments to be pulled together, and we see this not as a one-off book but a first step in the difficult journey of “re-discovery” and “re-membering”. The narratives also re-affirm to us Singapore’s place in regional and global historical narratives. We hope it serves as a curtain raiser to 2017, the 75 Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore.”

The stories are nested around essays— which provide context and background—written by the community of volunteers, who have come to be known as brownies under the banner of All Things Bukit Brown. They are neither historians nor academics but the editorial team conduct regular guided walks on site, which in themselves are learning journeys as they expand on their body of knowledge from engaging with descendants and a myriad web of networks including academics and historians.

“Bukit Brown has unexpectedly turned out to be a touchstone about the loss of heritage— tangible and intangible— in a Singapore eager to modernise and develop,” Chua Ai Lin, President of Singapore Heritage Society. “The book is an important evolution of the civil society movement to uphold Bukit Brown as a site of national significance, and illuminate one of its more fragile narrative threads. It brings together at once the strategic and personal importance of the site.”

About the Editors

Claire Leow, works in corporate communications with a background in journalism, both local and international. Claire was instrumental in co-curating with Jon Cooper—a war archaeologist who has been based in Singapore since 2011—“The Battlefield at Bukit Brown” guided walk, which has become a monthly staple in WW II history in Singapore. She has contributed chapters on the Railway Corridor and Bukit Brown in “Public Spaces in Urban Asia” (February 2014). Her CV includes more than two decades in journalism as correspondent and editor, principally at Business Times and Bloomberg news bureau chief for Bloomberg in Jakarta, and managing editor of the flagship Global-is-Asian magazine at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy where she edited a 12-chapter book as Associate Director of Research Dissemination.

Catherine Lim works freelance in broadcast media and the flexibility of her job allowed her to kickstart the blog with the first posts and function as the main editor. She co-ordinates requests for learning journeys for guided walks in Bukit Brown. In 2012, she produced, and was co-researcher and co-writer of an 8 part documentary series on Bukit Brown called “History from the Hills”. She is the co-ordinator for All Things Bukit Brown in a working committee representing civil society in discussions with the Ministry of National Development on curating artefacts from exhumed tombs within the grounds of Bukit Brown.

• • •

ISBN: 978-981-09-8370-3
Published: 2016
Dimension: 166mm x 240mm
Extent: 212 pages
Finish: Paperback

Published by Ethos Books and Singapore Heritage Society

TPK-on-sedan-2015-VW (1)
Pulau Ubin Tua Pek Kong temple & festival – a brief guide

Download our tour handbook for a brief introduction to the Tua Pek Kong Temple Festival held in conjunction with Pesta Ubin

In conjunction with Pesta Ubin, the Singapore Heritage Society has produced this information guide to help visitors understand the Tua Pek Kong temple & festival on Pulau Ubin, which is organised annually by the Pulau Ubin Fo Shan Ting Da Bo Gong Temple. This guide was first produced in 2016, and updated in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Download the PDF: Pulau Ubin Tua Pek Kong Temple & Festival Guide 2019

Facebook Event Page:

Pulau Ubin Tua Pek Kong Festival 2019

新加坡传统文化学会去年连同Pesta Ubin制作了一份册子,帮助前往乌敏岛的游客更深地入了解一年一度,由乌敏岛佛山亭大伯公庙主办的大伯公千秋。册子最新的版本包括今年大伯公千秋的日程表,欢迎大家下载:

《乌敏岛佛山亭大伯公庙 2019大伯公千秋简介》

Our Modern Past Volume 1
Our Modern Past – Volume 1: A Visual Survey of Singapore Architecture, 1920s–70s

A book launch in conjunction with the exhibition opening of
Moderns In Our Midst: A Photographic Tribute to Singapore’s Modern Architectural Heritage

Our Modern Past Volume 1

Date: Friday, 17 April 2015
Time: 6:30pm to 9pm
Venue: Concourse, National Museum of Singapore. 93, Stamford Road, Singapore 178897
Please RSVP by 7 April 2015.

About the Book
It is not obvious to many that Singapore boasts an exemplary Modernist architectural legacy. Built during the mid 20th century, these structures were the result of progressive, even utopic impulses to shape a new society — a vision of the future, built to last. But the future turned out to be startlingly short-lived. Relentless development is rapidly depleting the built heritage of the nation-building period in particular, which is relatively less well studied or protected. Recipient of the URA AUDE Grant and the NHB Heritage Project Grant, the Singapore Heritage Society’s decade-long ‘Our Modern Past’ project constitutes a sustained effort to document the city-state’s Modern heritage, promote appreciation of this architecture, and present a case for its selective conservation.

The first of two volumes, Our Modern Past: A Visual Survey of Singapore Architecture 1920s–1970s by Ho Weng Hin, Dinesh Naidu, Tan Kar Lin and photography by Jeremy San, provides a photographic guide organised into three sections: the Interwar Period (1919–1942), the Post-War Years (1945–1965), and Post-Independence Years (1966–1970s). Each section begins with a survey of that period’s architectural Elements, illustrating how locally typical Modern expressions of form, type, materiality, and detail have been shaped by their contexts. Feature Buildings then complete each section, providing a closer look at definitive works that capture the times. The book contains a total of 1,500 photographs illustrating 35 design elements and 44 feature buildings, including several that have since been demolished.

Guest of Honour: Associate Professor Kwok Kian Woon. Associate Provost, NTU and Past President, Singapore Heritage Society.

6.30 pm Guest arrival and registration
7.00 pm Welcome Address by SHS President
7.10 pm Speech by co-publisher SIA Press Director
7.20 pm Special Dedication by Dr Kevin Tan in memory of Jeremy San
7.30 pm Speech by the Guest of Honour
7.45 pm Launch of book, photo-taking & refreshments
9.00 pm End of event

A 25% discount on the book will apply (U.P is $120) at this event.

Roots, 1988 – 2005

Please feel free to click and download digitised copies of the Society’s newsletter, Roots, which was published from 1988 to 1997. You will need Adobe Reader, or another PDF viewer, in order to read each issue. Each PDF file is about 2 MB in size.

Spaces of the Dead: A Case from the Living (2011) by Kevin YL Tan (ed.)

Seen primarily as final resting places, cemeteries are increasingly under threat from urban redevelopment in land-scarce Singapore. Regarded as ‘excess space’ by state planners, and as ‘taboo places’ by the local populace, the rich historical and cultural heritage of our cemeteries have remained largely unappreciated and hidden. Today, there are about less than a dozen cemeteries left in Singapore. With the recent exhumation of major cemeteries like Bidadari Cemetery and Kong How Shua Cemetery, concerns have been raised about the status of cemeteries in Singapore.


Spaces of the Dead: A Case from the Living brings together various authors concerned with the need for conservation of cemeteries in Singapore. This book showcases cemeteries as spaces of historical, architectural and social merit through the writings and photo-journals of the authors. We hope it will serve as an initial step in generating greater interest in and awareness of Singapore’s cemeteries.

The Makers and Keepers of Singapore History (2010)

by Loh Kah Seng & Liew Kai Khiun (eds.)



In exploring the past, researchers labour in the present: to locate the archival document which is located somewhere behind a gate with its keeper; or to find that elusive participant who will throw light on a gap in our knowledge, and convince them to speak. The Makers and Keepers of Singapore History meditates on this relationship between past and present in a developmental city-state. The articles discusse how researchers seek to gain entry to archives and memories, in endeavours which crucially shape the imagination of Singapore as a nation and the identity of its people as citizens.

Gedung Kuning: Memories of a Malay Childhood (2010) by Hidayah Amin


Gedung Kuning or the Yellow Mansion was home to the family of Haji Yusoff ‘Tali Pinggang’ from 1912 to 1999. It was acquired by the Singapore government in August 1999 under the Land Acquisition Act. What used to house six families is now preserved as a historic building under the Malay Heritage Centre.


Hidayah Amin, one of Haji Yusoff’s great-granddaughters, revisits her childhood home and takes readers beyond the gate guarded by stone eagles, through rooms with big mirrors and marble floors, and shares interesting anecdotes growing up in Gedung Kuning. Through 28 short stories, readers get a historical narrative detailing the lives of people living in Gedung Kuning and the Malays of Singapore from 1850s to 1999.

The Triads: Chinese Secret Societies in 1950s Malaya & Singapore (2009) by Leon Comber

This volume collects together and reprints two groundbreaking publications from the 1950s by Dr Leon Comber: Introduction to Secret Societies; and Traditional Mysteries of Chinese Secret Societies in Malaya. The volumes were written to initiate laypersons to the mysterious world of Chinese secret societies. Secret societies were originally founded on the bedrock of blood ties, kinship, mutual help and rebellion against repressive regimes and especially relevant to the immigrant communities of the Nanyang (overseas) Chinese as they integrated into new homelands. To that extent, many of their rituals, codes of conduct and history held true to original ideals.


Over time however, many secret societies later turned to crime and have become synonymous with criminal organizations serving their leaders and gang members purposes rather than the wider community. Now republished in one paperback volume with new setting and design, The Triads provides a new readership with a fascinating glimpse into a world which continues to capture the imagination for both older and younger generations of students of an overseas Chinese community in Asia.

Through The Bamboo Window: Chinese Life & Culture in 1950s Malaya & Singapore (2009) by Leon Comber

This volume collects together and reprints four classic books written in the 1950s by Dr Leon Comber: Chinese Ancestral Worship; Chinese Festivals in Malaya (with Dorothy Lo); Chinese Magic & Superstition in Malaya; and Chinese Temples in Singapore. These books on Chinese life and customs were reprinted many times but have long been out of print. Written for the layperson, the style is simple and unpretentious, yet Comber’s meticulously presents a veritable cornucopia of a culture still relevant and present in modern Southeast Asia Completely reset and attractively designed this new publication addresses the rich heritage of the overseas Chinese community’s roots and practices, and for those reading about or visiting Southeast will find it a ready source of information and knowledge of ancient and classic Chinese culture in all its glory.

Singapore’s Monuments & Landmarks: A Philatelic Ramble

About This Book

The rich diversity of Singapore’s heritage in postage stamps may be something of a surprise! This finely illustrated softback written for children and adults gives details and stories about the significance of the buildings and objects depicted. These include official buildings, places of worship, rivers and bridges, nature parks, and monuments, including now-dismantled Japanese shrines. This book opens many windows onto Singapore’s history.

Format: Paper Back, 96 pages
Published: 2007, Singapore, 1st Edition
ISBN: 9789810578091

The Book of Singapore Firsts (2006) by Kay Gillis & Kevin YL Tan

This book is the first of its kind. It brings together over 300 fascinating ‘firsts’ in Singapore. Do you know who owned the first car brought into Singapore? Or who the first woman doctor was? What about the first ‘skyscraper’ or the first court house? Authors Kay Gillis and Kevin Tan have compiled a personal collection of interesting and intriguing ‘firsts’ in an A-Z encyclopaedia. Most of the listings include extensive write-ups and histories.

An Ingenious Reverie: The Photography of Yip Cheong Fun (2006) by Bridget Tracy Tan

This catalogue accompanied the 2006 exhibition of photographs by the celebrated and pioneer Singapore photographer Yip Cheong Fun (1903-1989). In these remarkable photo studies, the National Library Board and the Singapore Heritage Society have presented many aspects of both the physical fabric and the human life and emotions of Singapore in the 20th century. With biographical and professional summaries and over a hundred photographs with many smaller insets. Partly in Chinese.

Ong Teng Cheong: Planner, Politician, President (2005) by Tisa Ng, Lily Tan

This book tells how a serious-minded young man became one of Singapore’s most respected politicians and, ultimately, President of the Republic. Based on extensive research, including interviews with family, friends and colleagues, this account traces the rise to eminence of Ong Teng Cheong, as he becomes first, Member of Parliament for the Kim Keat constituency, then a government minister and Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC). The climax of the story comes when, in 1993, he relinquishes his position in the Cabinet, resigns from the PAP, leaves the NTUC, and presents himself as a candidate to be the first elected president of Singapore.


The book assesses Ong’s legacy: his contribution to the economic well-being of the workforce, his role in shaping the physical appearance of Singapore, his part in the development of the MRT system, among other projects, and his tireless patronage of the arts. Included here are the recollections of many distinguished public figures of his generation—including President S. R. Nathan and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong; here, too, are the words of many others whose lives were touched by Ong Teng Cheong.

Memories and the National Library: Between Forgetting And Remembering (2000)

by Kwok Kian Woon, Ho Weng Hin and Tan Kar Lin (eds.)


The Singapore Heritage Society has undertaken this compilation of articles and letters that appeared in the local press over the controversial decision by the government to demolish the National Library building at Stamford Road. Earmarked as the new site for a management university, the centrally-located area has since 1960 evoked a host of sentiments for thousands of Singaporeans, who face the loss of yet another built memory.

Rethinking Chinatown And Heritage Conservation In Singapore (2000)

by Kwok Kian-Woon, C.J. Wee Wan-Ling and Karen Chia (eds)


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SHS book in PDF: Rethinking Chinatown

N.B.: Appendix (pages 60-88) are not available in the PDF version.


A preliminary review conducted by the Singapore Heritage Society of the Singapore Tourism Board’s multi-million dollar proposal to “revitalise” Chinatown. The book documents the courses that are relevant for the implementation of the STB plans; draw lessons from the Chinatown debate and reflect on the future directions for the development of other heritage sites in Singapore.


The study presents:

1. The Chinatown heritage.

2. Challenges in the revitalization of Chinatown.

3. Opportunities for the redevelopment of Chinatown.

4. A consideration of the STB proposal.

‘We Asians’: Between Past And Future (2000)

by Kwok Kian-Woon, Indira Arumugam, Karen Chia and Lee Chee Keng (eds)


In the wide-ranging and often complex papers and discussion at the February 2000 Singapore Conference “We Asians — between Past & Future,” Japanese and Southeast Asian contributors examined concepts of Asianness. The material evolves around the following themes: The past as prologue; war and violence; history and memory; Colonialism, Communism and nation-state formation; the rise of Capitalism in Asia; Culture and consciousness and Beginning the 21st Century.

Our Place in Time: Exploring Heritage And Memory in Singapore (1999)

by Kwok Kian Woon, Kwa Chong Guan, Lily Kong and Brenda Yeoh (eds.)


Our Place in Time is a collection of papers presented at a forum on 17-18 September 1994. It discusses our search for identity as an attempt to recover and rediscover ‘the living presence of the past’, for ‘heritage is not simply what we inherit from the past, as if it were fixed and given; rather, it embodies and discloses forms of human possibilities – possible ways of life, hopes and fears, aspirations fulfilled and unfulfilled. The book discusses how heritage answers fundamental questions such as what it means to be human and how recollecting the past is a part of projecting our future.

Chinatown Memories (1998) by Geraldene Lowe-Ismail

A new and charming version of Geraldene’s well known and loved memoir of a Chinatown past. Lavishly illustrated by Derek Corke, who lived and painted Singapore for 18 years, this companion reader and guide to Singapore’s Chinatown is an ideal gift and souvenir of one of Southeast Asia’s vibrant cities and it impressive and cherished heritage.

Letters from Mao’s China (1996) by David Marshall

Collection of letters written in 1956 by distinguished Singapore lawyer, the late David Marshall, who was the colony’s first Chief Minister. The volume was edited by the late Prof. Michael Leifer, who also wrote an introduction to the book. In this volume, David Marshall provides interesting insights into conditions in communist China at a time when the country was still closed to most foreigners. He urged the Chinese authorities to encourage the overseas Chinese to take up citizenship of the countries of domicile. Marshall was instrumental in securing the expatriation of the small community of Jews who were in China at that time.

What If? Post-War Choices In Singapore (1995) by Lee Geok Boi

An interactive game book showing the reader the choices and decisions that the ordinary person faced in Singapore during World War II and after. This book was published by the Singapore Heritage Society to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the surrender of the Japanese on 12 September 1945.

Living Legacy: Singapore’s Architectural Heritage Renewed (1994) by Robert Powell

Some of the finest buildings in Singapore have been lovingly restored during the 1980s and gazetted as national monuments. Visit these private homes and national monuments through this coffee table book with extensive photography by celebrated local photographer Albert Lim Koon Seng.

Pages from yesteryear: a look at the printed works of Singapore, 1819-1959 (1989) by Lee Geok Boi

This is a pioneering work that attempts to trace the literary heritage of Singapore from its founding in 1819 up to 1959. Covers the early religious tracts published by missionary groups; poems, short stories published in newspapers and magazines; publishing houses, book distribution; literary awareness; and writers and their works. Photographs by Albert Lim K.S. & Eng Bow Kee.

Our Modern Past: A 15-Month Calendar for 2011-2012

The Singapore Heritage Society commissioned architectural photographer Jeremy San to document the nation’s modern architectural heritage (1920s-1970s), for its upcoming book: ‘Our Modern Past’. This calendar features rare and poignant images of 15 buildings that were once celebrated for their modernity and progressiveness, but now demolished, transformed or simply forgotten.





Place your order here: OMP Calendar Order Form