Yishun New Town
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Yishun New Town, one of the first comprehensive urban developments in the northern part of Singapore, is located within Yishun Ring Road. The road, a two-way street, is a self-contained road that begins and ends within itself in a distorted circular structure. The Town and Road is named after Lim Nee Soon, a prominent businessman in colonial Singapore. Yishun Ring Road was home to many kampongs in the past.
The word Yishun is a pinyinised version of the word "Nee Soon". Lim Nee Soon (b. 12 November, 1879 Singapore - d. 20 March 1936, Shanghai, China) was a prominent industrialist, making his fortune from rubber and pineapples. He was also known as a caring landlord, providing much for the villagers who worked under him. The growth of the estates under his ownership started when as a young man of 24, Nee Soon bought land from the government around the Seletar River for cultivation. Before the arrival of rubber, in the middle of the 19th century, the area around the Seletar River was a flourishing gambier and pepper stronghold. These crops declined at the end of the 19th century, to be replaced by rubber. At the peak of Nee Soon's career, his rubber estates covered areas like Jurong, Choa Chu Kang, Mandai, Thomson and Johor. Nee Soon district developed into an extended settlement as Chinese immigrants were hired to become labourers in the rubber plantations. They then settled down forming villages, paying a token amount for the land they rented from Nee Soon. The villages include Mandai Tekong Village, Nee Soon Village, Hainan Village, Hup Choon Kek Village, Phua Village a.k.a. Heng Leh Pah Village, Kum Mang Hng Village, Kampong Telok Soo and Chye Kay Village.
To supplement their livelihood, the villagers took vegetables and fruit, and pig and poultry farming. From the 1960s onwards, they extended their farming activities to include tropical fish and orchid. This along with improved farming techniques contributed to the rise in prosperity of the population of Nee Soon district. In 1979, pig farming was stopped following the government's directive to restrict pig farms to Ponggol and Lim Chu Kang.
Development of the areas that once made up the Nee Soon estate began in 1976 with the initiation of a project called the Yishun New Town Project. The project at first allocated 907 ha of land towards public housing and industrial development, but the land area was later increased to over 919 ha. Construction work began in 1977, prior to which some resettlement of the villages had taken place. Most of the residents of Chye Kay Village were moved to Ang Mo Kio, while those who were engaged in rearing aquarium fish were moved to Tampines. The Yishun New Town area is flanked by Admiralty Road, Yishun Avenue 1 and Sembawang Road. Yishun Ring Road lies at the near-core of this town as a circle road linking almost all other roads in the Yishun New Town.
The New Town was designed with convenience in mind, for schools, markets, religious buildings, community buildings, shopping and recreational facilities to be within easy reach. The Masjid Darul Makmur, located at the junction of Yishun Ring Road and Yishun Avenue 2, was opened officially on 23 July 1987. A combined temple also constructed in 1987, is home to two Chinese temples, the Chu Sheng Tong Temple and the Hua Sua Keng Temple. A Hindu temple, the Sree Maha Mariamman Temple, established in 1942 at the junction of Upper Thomson Road and Mandai road, came to be relocated at the junction of Yishun Avenue 3 and Yishun Ring Road during the course of the redevelopment work. On 27 August 1995, two Sikh temples, Sembawang and Jalan Kayu temples, were merged into the Gurdwara Sahib Yishun (Yishun Sikh Temple) which spread over 1317 sq m.
The Yishun Bus Interchange, constructed by the Housing Development Board (HDB), was officially opened on 23 August 1987 and handed over to Trans Island Bus Services Ltd (TIBS) on the same day. Khatib and Yishun MRT stations, in the Yishun New Town, began services in 1989 as a part of the North-South line. The Yishun Town Park, a 17 ha. pentagon-shaped site, flanked by Yishun Avenue 4, Yishun Central, Yishun Avenue 11 and Yishun Ring Road, was built in the mid-1990s. In 1993, shopkeepers, merchants and tradesmen at Yishun Ring Road pooled their resources and upgraded their commercial units into a shopping area called Chong Pang City. It is made up of around 125 shops, a cooked food centre and wet market stalls, and it stands out with its aesthetically -designed pedestrian malls and archways.
Schools along the road are the Jiemin Primary School, Yishun Secondary School, Yishun Primary School, Northbrooks Secondary School, Naval Base Secondary School, Peiying Primary School and Northland Secondary School. In 1996, the government announced plans to upgrade facilities in the new town to include better hawker stalls, shopping precincts and parking lots. In the same year, the URA announced the government's plans to sell land in the Yishun New Town for the construction of low and medium-rise private houses. About 1000 new housing units were built at the end of the 1990s, at two locations - north of the junction of Yishun Avenue 2 and Yishun Ring Road and along Sembawang Road.
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja
Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2003). Toponymics: A study of Singapore street names (p. 414). Singapore: Eastern Universities Press.
(Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV)
Oral History Department. (1987). A pictorial history of Nee Soon Community (pp. 15, 18, 20-30, 59-73, 161-179). Singapore : The grassroots organisations of Nee Soon Constituency, National Archives, Oral History Department.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 PIC)
Fernandez, W. (1996, April 22). New facilities for Yishun, says Mah. The Straits Times, p. 27.
Siow, M. (1993, May 30). Yishun shops band to build their own "shopping mall'. The Straits Times, p. 23.
Tan, B. H. (1987, November 24). Man behind old Nee Soon village. The Straits Times.
URA to sell Yishun land for "homes with a view'. (1996, January 31). The Straits Times, p. 35.
Two Sikh temples merge into one in Yishun. (1995, August 28). The Straits Times, p. 39.
New Sikh temple to replace 2 in Yishun. (1993, October 18). The Straits Times, p. 24.
Nature park in the heart of Yishun within 2 years. (1992, November 30). The Straits Times, p. 45.
The information in this article is valid as at 2003 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
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