New World Park
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In 1923, Ong Boon Tat and Ong Peng Hock set up New World Park, the first of the three amusement parks that coloured Singapore's night life from the 1920s to the 1960s. New World was located at Jalan Besar, bounded by Serangoon Road, Kitchener Road and Whampoa River. The park was sold to Shaw Brothers which acquired a 50-percent interest.
During the Japanese Occupation, New World was renamed Shin Segal and turned into a gambling farm opened only to civilians but not Japanese soldiers.
New World closed in 1987 when Shaw Organisation sold the freehold site to City Developments. Work to build a condominium and an eight-storey mall on the site was planned to start in late 2004.
Malay men were drawn to New World by Bunga Tanjong which hosted bands playing Malay tunes to the beat of ronggeng or asli interspersed with cha-cha or rumba. On some nights, they would also threw in the twist and the rock 'n roll. Men could buy a 50 cent ticket for a dance with the ladies. The early birds would secure the best dancers or their favourite ones and also got seats nearest to the dancing girls. On some nights Bunga Tanjong could pack up to 500 people. The popularity of Bunga Tanjong inspired acclaimed playwright A.Samad Said to write a well-received play on the life of a cabaret girl, entitled Lantai T. Pinkie (T. Pinkie's floor).
Four artistes or athletes were household names in New World; striptease queen Rose Chan, wrestler King Kong, strongman Ali Ahmad (better known as Mat Tarzan) and boxer Felix Boy. Rose Chan and King Kong were controversial for their stunts; the former wrestled pythons during her shows while the latter, a Hungarian-born giant whose real name was Emile Czaya, once ate a whole goat to promote his fight.
New World faded from the night scene after the 1960s, a fate that affected the other two "worlds" - Great World and Gay World. In April 1987, City Developments bought New World's 42,252.1 sq m site from Shaw Organisation for S$35 million. The major development on this site is the City Square Residences condominium.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
Chan, K. S. (2000, June 12). Worlds of fun in the past. The Straits Times.
CityDev's Kitchener project to start in Q4. (2004, January 29). The Business Times.
CityDev outlines plans for New World site. (1992, October 13). The Business Times.
Feng, C. (2005, February 9). Whatever happened to...Sakura Teng. The Straits Times.
Ismail Kassim. (1990, September 14). Joget days are here again - and its' full house almost every night. The Straits Times, p. 31.
Jeman Sulaiman. (1988, August 3). Bunga Tanjong - once the fun seeker's haven. The Straits Times.
Lee, K. L. (2004, February 6). New World has colourful history. The Business Times, Letter.
New World Parks original gate to front new park. (2005, April 14). The Straits Times.
Phan, M. Y. (1995, June 9). Three Worlds and a time when life is a cabaret. The Straits Times, Life, p. 8.
Rashiwala, K. (2006, June 8). CityDev scores another residential coup. The Business Times.
The information in this article is valid as at 2006 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.