Registration is open for the Battle of Pasir Panjang Commemorative Walk – Sun 16 Feb 2020

The Battle of Pasir Panjang Commemorative Walk 
with the NUS Toddycats, volunteers of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, National University of Singapore.


Sun 16 Feb 2020: 7.00am – 12.00pm from NUS

The heroic account of the Malay Regiment at the Battle of Pasir Panjang left a strong impression on us, and there few of us have come together to humbly commemorate the Malay Regiment’s defense of the ridge every year since 2002.

Guides will share with the public stories about the battle, the geography, history and the flora and fauna of the area which drew us to explore the ridge decades ago which led us to gradually learn of its history.

Our commemorative route takes us from the battle front at the National University of Singapore to Kent Ridge Road and through the Gap to Kent Ridge Park and ends at Reflections of Bukit Chandu (note that this is closed in 2020).

All are welcome, just register at Eventbrite.

You must be able to wake up and join us at 7.00am at NUS’ University Cultural Centre and be physically fit enough to walk 5km (with some stairs) at a moderate pace over five hours. 

Please read the other details and guidelines for preparation on the Eventbrite page.

Wed 19 April 2017: 6:30 pm @ NLB – Peter Borschberg on “What could we learn from the 1603 sea battle off Changi?”

Public Talk (registration required) – this talk is organised by the Singapore Maritime Heritage Interest Group, in unofficial tribute to the Republic of Singapore Navy’s 50th anniversary (May 2017).

“What could we learn from the 1603 sea battle off Changi?”

A/P Peter Borschberg
Department of History
National University of Singapore

Wed 19 April 2017: 6:30 pm – 9.00pm
National Library Building (Victoria Street)
POD, Level 16

A/P Borschberg is a renowned historian of pre-British history of Singapore and the region. This talk is based on this map from 1607, depicting a sea battle off the coast of Changi in 1603. Learn more about the talk and the speaker here.

Screenshot 491

The talk is free, but please register due to limited seats [link].

Koufu has kindly sponsored the refreshments at the end of talk.

Thanks to Mok Ly Yng for the alert.

Romano Archives: Japanese footage from the Battle of Singapore, Feb 1942

Coloured WW2 footage by Romano Archives, from The Battle of Singapore, without sound or narration.

The footage features air, ship and artillery bombardment, amphibious landings, infantry movement, banzai, tanks rolling into the city past the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles and “Tiger of Malaya,” General Tomoyuki Yamashita.

You can see some of the footage used in this documentary, WWII Battlefront Pacific: Fall of Singapore (2001; Madacy Entertainment):

Kandang Kerbau Women’s and Children’s Hospital want to set another world record

Kandang Kerbau Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KK) were inadvertent record-breakers in 1966:

“In 1966, Kandang Kerbau Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) or KK as it was popularly referred to, saw 39,856 deliveries and entered the Guinness Book of World Records for having the largest number of births in a single maternity facility anywhere in the world!

Then, “more than 85 percent of all births in Singapore took place in KKH, where over 100 babies were delivered daily.”

KK held the record until 1976.

The same year, “the National Family Planning Campaign was launched to curb a projected population boom. The new “Stop At Two” (children) policy’s slogan was “Girl or Boy — Two is enough”.”

“The campaign was so successful that the Government later realized that Singapore would not be able to replace its population in a generation. In 1986, the campaign tack and the slogan became “Have three or more, if you can afford it”.”

– “The record-breaking Kandang Kerbau Hospital babies of 1966!”

Half a century later, KK or KKH as they refer to themselves now, are attempting a second, and this time intentional, record-breaking reunion – all kerbaus are invited to “Born in KKH – A Celebration of Singapore, Family Life and a Healthy Lifestyle” on Sun 16 Oc 2016: 8.30am @ Bishan Stadium.

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See the webpage for more. If you are attempting the record, there are details to take note of such as having copy of your BC, a QR code as well as your NRIC on the day.

Are you a kerbau?

“Rochor River flowing between Sungei Road and Rochor Canal Road. Buffaloes, as seen bathing in river in the picture, were kept by the local Indian community in the area, which was how the name of nearby Kandang Kerbau or “buffalo pen” came about” – description and photo from National Archives of Singapore

Discover Pulau Ubin during Pesta Ubin, 14 May – 12 June 2016!

“Pesta Ubin” is the 5th iteration of Ubin Day and offers a wonderful array of activities by more than 30 groups who enjoy nature, heritage, adventure and recreation activities on Pulau Ubin. Many events are offered free of charge to share the joy of this unique island with Singaporeans.

For more details, see the Pesta Ubin blog and facebook pages.

Pesta Ubin 2016

The festival starts on the 14th of May 2016 with a Chek Jawa boardwalk tour, a basic mountain-biking course, and an evening at the Wayang Stage, explorations of the western tip, a specialist heritage tour, and learning kampung cooking in a 100-year old kampung house! The truly marvellous array of activities continue until mid-June!

This festival is a ground-up exercise coordinated by WildSingapore which facilitates the offerings of various groups. A unique feature is a code of conduct the groups subscribe to, called the Ubin Way:

  1. Greet each other with a smile, a “Hello” or “How was your day on Pulau Ubin?” Respect the culture and get to know the people of Ubin, and each other.
  2. Do not litter – and pick up litter that we see. Bring it back to the mainland.
  3. Be gentle with wildlife – no balloons release, avoid noisy activities, be considerate during photography, don’t pluck plants or harm animals. At night, do not blind animals with the glare of strong lights.
  4. Minimise our footprint – avoid bottled water, styrofoam, plastic bags, useless freebies, pamphlets and single use items
  5. Encourage participants to patronise local businesses and share news about activities on the island.

To contribute an activity or volunteer, see the About page.

Join us for our annual Battle of Pasir Panjang Commemorative Walk, Sat 13 Feb 2016: 7.00am – 12.00pm

The Battle of Pasir Panjang Commemorative Walk, Sat 13 Feb 2016: 7.00am – 12.00pm with my Pasir Panjang Heritage kakis from NUS Toddycats, volunteers of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, National University of Singapore: Kok Oi Yee, Airani S, Alvin Wong, Quek Kiah Shen, Wendy Sim, Lai Chee Kian, Stella Wee, Kenneth Pinto.

Register at Eventbrite and details at Habitatnews

Battle of Pasir Panjang, 13-14 Feb 1942: “Ta’at dan Setia”

General A. E. Percival, the Commander-in-Chief of the Malayan Command:

“by their stubborn defence of the Pasir Panjang Ridge at the height of the Battle of Singapore, they set an example of steadfastness and endurance which will become a great tradition in the Regiment and an inspiration for the future generations.””


  • “The Malay Regiment – “Ta’at Dan Setia”: 1933-1945,” by Lim Kay Tong. Originally from Knowledgenet, 1999. [link]
  • Battle of Pasir Panjang. Wikipedia. [link]
  • Sunrise in campus and a battle remembered (2012) [link]
  • “Commemorating the Battle of Pasir Panjang.” Otterman speaks…, 04 Oct 2005 [link]
  • “Adnan lives on.” Otterman speaks…, 29 Feb 2004. [link]
  • More links at Habitatnews: Pasir Panjang Heritage

We walk this Sunday.

Remembering the Battle of Pasir Panjang

Chinese New Year always a bittersweet time. The occasion brings me back to 1942 – it’s World War II and Singapore is under siege. Out of the flames and scars of battle, loyalty and courage is demonstrated in many instances, and the Battle of Pasir Panjang is certainly an extraordinary story.

I only learnt about this battle in my backyard in the late 90’s.

General A. E. Percival, the Commander-in-Chief of the Malayan Command wrote in The War in Malaya (1949),

The main Japanese offensive during the thirteenth developed along the Pasir Panjang Ridge to the west of Singapore Town. It was a key position on that part of the front, for it not only over-looked the country to the north but also gave direct access to the vitally important Alexandra area where our main ammunition magazine, the main ordnance depot, the military hospital, and other installations were grouped. The attack was made by the Japanese 18th Division and was preceded by a two hours’ artillery, air, and mortar bombardment.

The attack fell chiefly on the Malay Regiment which was holding this feature and which fought magnificently. On this and the following day the regiment fully justified the confidence which had been placed in it and showed what esprit de corps and discipline can achieve. Garrisons of posts held their ground and many of them were wiped out almost to a man. It was only when it was weakened by heavy losses that the regiment was forced to give ground. Those who have described the resistance on Singapore Island as half-hearted do scant justice to resistance such as this.”

BPP Annv Walk

2012-02-12 07.05.40

My fellow Pasir Panjang heritage guides and I will share this story and more during the Battle of Pasir Panjang Anniversary Walk. This annual walk has been conducted since February 2002 to recall the battle and share stories of heritage, biology and the environment with rather interesting members of the public – they wake up early to join us at 7.00am for a five-hour walk!

Read Jerome Lim’s comprehensive account from 2011 in The Long and Winding Road.

This year we walk on Sat 15 Feb 2014 (registration here), which my students correctly guessed to be Total Defense Day but struggled to recall that it commemorates the Fall of Singapore on 15 Feb 1942. Well, I’ll remind them to listen out for the island-wide sounding of sirens at midday.

Photos by Kenneth Pinto.

Old (or new) photos with your TV for an exhibition of the history of TV in Singapore

The curators of an exhibition about the history of TV in Singapore at the National Museum of Singapore are inviting submissions of family photos taken with the TV – either deliberately or accidentally (as you can see in the example below). They are open to any kinds of photos taken in the home that happen to include the TV – from the 1960s up to now.

The photos will be shown in a slideshow in the exhibition, which will run from late November 2013 to mid-January 2014.
Send your images to

“Defiance has a name: Lieutenant Adnan”

When Circle Line as newly opened, Pasir Panjang MRT Station (CC26) featured a movie banner which declared, “Defiance has a name: Lieutenant Adnan”! That sent shivers down the spine of the Pasir Panjang Heritage Guides and we eagerly look forward to the movie.

Defiance has a name Lieutenant Adnan (Kenneth Pinto)
Photo by Kenneth Pinto on a CCL jaunt with John Larkin

Despite our eager anticipation, we saw no sign of the movie anywhere in Singapore! Kenneth Pinto who first alerted me about the banner was just as puzzled when nothing more was heard of the movie weeks later.

Eventually we realised the banner was a “Art in Transit” contribution by filmmaker Ho Tzu Nyen. We were certainly taken in!

“At the Pasir Panjang station, for example, the artwork features Lieutenant Adnan bin Saidi, a war hero who led Singapore in the Battle of Pasir Panjang against the Japanese in 1942. Images of Singaporean actor Aaron Aziz, playing Lt. Adnan, are used to create a mock movie poster about the war hero.

Injecting a bit of humor into an artwork about a grimmer period in Singapore’s history, the poster offers a tribute to Lt. Adnan’s bravery during the Japanese occupation in World War II.

The tribute to Lt. Adnan was the work of Singaporean artist and filmmaker Ho Tzu Nyen, who represented Singapore at the 2011 Venice Biennale.”

– “Slow Down and Enjoy the Art, Singapore,” by Shibani Mahtani. Wall Street Journal, 11 October 2011.

Pasir Panjang MRT

The MRT station is located across from Pepys Road, along which lies the former Opium Factory which gave Bukit Chandu its name.

We won’t get to see the movie, but hope that thousands of Singaporeans will pause to remember, like I do, each time I am at Pasir Pajang MRT station.

“Defiance has a name: Lieutenant Adnan”