Featured News Bidadari: once cemetery, next change social enterprise hawker centre

Bidadari: once cemetery, next change social enterprise hawker centre

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Sense And Nonsense by Tan Bah Bah

Bidadari housing estate will have its own hawker centre in the second half of this year. This is a fairly big deal, at least for me. The place was once a cemetery which I used to walk through with my classmates on our way to a connecting bus stop along Aljunied Road.  Never did I imagine at that time the sprawling cemetery would one day be a site for Housing Development Board flats. Now there is going to be a big social enterprise hawker centre too.

Most Singaporeans are aware that a large part of Chua Chu Kang was cemetery. The cemeteries are still there. The new estate has been developed away from the graveyards. 

With Chua Chu Kang, it was a question of whether you were used to living in that remote corner of the island. You were already a rural person. Maybe, your family members were farmers. Living side by side with the cemeteries was part of life for people. 

Not so with others elsewhere. 

Not many knew that quite a bit of Tampines new town were graveyards. My family sought out all sorts of municipal maps and diagrams to trace where the cemeteries were.  We finally chose a site where we were convinced the chances of being confronted by a ghostly figure in the lift or corridor were nil.

It could be a sign of the times or of progress that neither Bidadari nor Chua Chu Kang – so clearly associated with the afterlife – generated any worry about ghosts. 

I have walked through the spanking new Bidadari estate. Nothing ghostly here. Just the best designed flats the HDB has to offer.

When the Bishan estate was being developed, the changeover from graveyard area to modern new town was not entirely smooth.

Bishan was developed on the Pek San Teng cemetery, a well-known Chinese cemetery. It took a while for everyone to settle down.

There were unkind stories of headless figures in MRT trains as they passed through the station. 

Today, flats there are much sought after, mainly because of the good schools located in the area. 

As much as premium schools are the anchors of Bishan, I think Bidadari’s central location, upcoming facilities and well-designed flats will quickly establish it as a premium HDB place. Few would-be tenants/owners are going to check any old maps for cemetery spots. More likely, they will be more attracted by the social enterprise hawker centre in the estate.

Cemeteries do not chase anyone away anymore.

Sim Wong Hoo, missed opportunity

Singapore’s tech pioneer, Sim Wong Hoo, who passed away at 67, deserved more backing while he was alive– and better recognition at home.

I don’t know what happened between him and the authorities here, if anything. In the post-death comments, there have been some suggestions of differences between him and some local personalities who were in a position to give him the support he needed to make CREATIVE an even more iconic name than it already was.

If he had been backed properly, CREATIVE could have been as big a name as Singapore Airlines and Temasek.

What a pity. Missed opportunity.

Tan Bah Bah is a former senior leader writer with The Straits Times. He was also managing editor of a magazine publishing company. 

Send in your scoops to news@theindependent.sg 

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