Saturday, May 28, 2011

Prime Minister’s Visit

In the Straits Times today, there is a section devoted to our former prime minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew – High 5 for LKY: Five essays on former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew’s places in history.

One of the essays was about community centres. It reminded me of his visit to our kampong, Lorong Kinchir in 1962. As I was only ten years old then, I cannot recall much other than the usual fanfare. But I do know that my father was involved in the welcome party. My father, as one of the few residents who could speak English, probably played a big role in liaising with the authorities. Furthermore, he, together with our village chief, a Mr Low Thiam Aik represented our kampong in the Serangoon Gardens CCC (citizens’ consultative committee).

I was very happy to be reconnected with one of Mr Low’s grandchildren, Eng Leong, who had read this blog. Just two days ago, I met up with him and we spent almost an hour at a Yishun coffee shop trying to recall the people and places of our kampong. He shared some of his family photos and gave me a spare copy of this classic which I had been searching high and low for. It was taken at our kampong’s community centre during the prime minister's visit.

Besides my father who is seated on the extreme right, my Seventh Uncle who is seated on the extreme left and Mr Low who is on PM Lee’s left, I could not identify any other faces even though many of them looked familiar. You would notice that besides PM Lee, there is one other person not wearing a ribbon on his chest. He is seated second from the right. Hence, he is likely to be a visitor with PM Lee’s entourage and not from our village.

Question. Who is this gentleman?


Zen said...

I had seen this photo before. I could remember my father enlarged this photo, enclosed it into a large wooden frame, and hung it on the wall. I believe during shifting of house to farrer road, the photo was somehow lost in transit and now we have to depend on eng leong's photo for reminisce. The VIP (without the identification badge) who sat next to my father could be the then MP Tan Kia Gan (needs verification) whom my father used to mentioned. After MP Tan left office, my father served MP Rodigo of Serangoon Garden for a number of years, looking after the welfare of the village.

Icemoon said...

I believe Zen is right. Tan was MP for Paya Lebar, which means Lorong Kinchir was under Paya Lebar? He was Parliament Sec (Home Affairs) and later Minister for National Development.

Here is his photo:

Icemoon said...

Link to save readers from copy'n paste.

Thimbuktu said...

Memorable blog photo of PM Lee Kuan Yew taken with your father, Chun See. I do not have a photo, but I remember a visit by him and his entourage to Bukit Ho Swee in 1961. We were the young urchins of Bukit Ho Swee who followed them everywhere they went during their visit. I believe it was the opening ceremony of the HDB 1-room "emergency flats" for the victims of the Bukit Ho Swee fire on 25 May, 1961.

Brian and Tess said...

As a young teenager when my father was at RAF Changi I well recall what a dominant voice Lee Kuan Yew was. Next to our barrack blocks of Changi Grammar School in the early 60s was a playing field - still there, and it was not unusual to see the Prime Minister practicing his golf shots on it. There was also a residence on the coast just west of Changi Village that he sometimes occupied - next door to a friend of mine with whom I stayed for a few weeks. So we felt quite close to your former PM!

Icemoon said...

Brian, you have any idea whether the residence is still around? Can you describe the location, so I can go and find it.

Brian and Tess said...


Looking at google earth and reading the co-ordinates my guess is that the location of my friends house was

1 degree 23'31.40" N
103 degrees 58' 58.41" E

This is highly unlikely to be the same building however as his house was rather old colonial if I recall correctly and it looks like this and neighbouring houses are new.

It is the house immediately to the West in its own large grounds that I was told was used by the PM. I can't lay hands on my Spore map at the moment but I have an idea that when I checked it some years ago I noted that this building was shown as a government building of some sort.


Icemoon said...

Thanks Brian. I will go check it out.

Anonymous said...

i unearthed sth interesting fr 1991: