St Andrew’s alumni unhappy over mixed development name [Channel NewsAsia] / Thanks for the name change!

Updates – Thank you MCC Land and Street and Buildings Names Board!

This is regarding the development along Meyappa Chettiar Road, next to St. Andrew’s Village where St. Andrew’s Junior School, St. Andrew’s Secondary School and St. Andrew’s Junior College are located.

I hope MCC Land (Singapore) and the Street and Building Names Board can reconsider the names.

St. Andrew’s School was founded on 8 September 1862 by Rev Edward Sherman Venn of the Anglican Church.

The name of a new development in Potong Pasir has raised the ire of some members of the St Andrew’s school community. The project includes a condominium called The Andrew Residences and a mall, The Andrew Village.

“It’s really taking away from our history, just for the convenience or expediency of having a name for this commercial entity,” said school alumnus, Mr Isaac Leong.

“The names are not copyrighted, so they can name it anything they like,” said former teacher Yee Teck Peng. “But the developers should be sensitive to the feeling, the ethos, the heritage, the environment, they should consider all these if they are building the mall and naming it ‘Andrew’.”

The development, comprising a condominium named The Andrew Residences and The Andrew Village mall, is set to be complete in 2019. 

Full article and video at “St Andrew’s alumni unhappy over mixed development name,” by Kenneth Lim. Channel NewsAsia, 23 Oct 2015.

St Andrew s alumni unhappy over mixed development name  Channel NewsAsia

Kallang River’s smooth-coated otters at St. Andrew’s Village


This is a photo of Bishan5 taken at Kallang River near the Jacob Ballas Bridge of St. Andrew’s Bridge. the family group have been moving between Lower Pierce and Kallang and leaving the vicinity of the river to explore adjacent areas for days.

This lovely photo was taken by Jeffrey Teo and kindly sent to the principals of St. Andrew’s JC, St. Andrew’s Secondary School and St. Andrew’s Junior School – Mrs’ Lee Bee Yann, Lucy Toh and Wong Bin Eng.

St. Andrew’s is fortunate to have the river in such a lovely condition, and this is due to the efforts of so many people before us. It was a black, anoxic and unyielding river in the 70’s when I was a student there. But now, we have otters!

The school is not indifferent to the work of predecessors – the school hymn says,

“They reaped not where they laboured,
We reap what they have sown;
Our harvest may be garnered,
By ages yet unknown.”

The river presents challenges still – the otters have been entangled in raffia, hooked by an illegal fishermen and were chewing on and vomiting out styrofoam. We still have lots of work to do along the river.

See also:

  • The cleaning up of Singapore River and Kallang Basin (1977-1987) [link]
  • Otter Watch – Otters in Singapore [link]

Preparing for the 168km edition of the NTU Bike Rally

NTU Bike Rally is a magnificent round-island ride organised by the great undergrads of NTU Sports Club and I’m happy to have ridden in all ten rides.

This year they offered not the usual 128km but two versions – an 88km ride and a 168km ride. I chose the latter without hesitation but winced later when discussing the choice with Kenneth Pinto, my Zendogs 2.0 riding kaki. We realised the distance had to be taken seriously because it’s a longer ride than we are used to, it’s happening now in just five weeks (Sun 08 Mar 2015) and it will be hot and dry then!

NTU Bike Rally 2015

After a tough semester last Aug – Dec 2014, my cycling fitness is history once again. Last year I used the Brompton and ended up battling cramps for half the distance. I said then, that the pain was an appropriate way to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the NTU Bike Rally!

This year, I have decided against heroics and am opting for an easier ride on my Norco mountain bike complete with slick tyres! And I began preparations with @acroamatic two Sundays ago. Predictably I experienced cramps on my first ride to Changi Village after just 30 km – and fell off my bike after 50km at Fort Road as my leg muscles locked up. Sigh, all the dramatics despite isotonics, salt tablets, good hydration and compression pants. It was bound to happen, though, and I had transport waiting courtesy of Ladybug!

After two more rides that week, I managed 85km without cramps second Sunday ride. And I was pleased with the average speed of 20+km/h during the first 30km (Holland Village to Changi Village).

Admittedly these were all relatively slow rides with journey average speeds below 20km/h. My climbs are weak and while urging myself on, I’m careful not to overstrain my injured knees. The rides were also relatively cool due to cloudy weather, breaking me in gently, thankfully.

Well, it’s ride number five in the morning and I’m hoping to be a little faster, even on the second leg back via Pasir Panjang. It will probably be an 80km+ ride – I will not break the metric century yet, but I am content to tackle that a week or two later. Tally-ho!

My Runkeeper plots of the rides

First 2015 ride to Changi Village for breakfast when I knew I’d have enough by Fort Road.
2015 01 Cycling Activity 53 90 km  RunKeeper

A slow recovery mid-day ride two days after my cramp-filled Sunday along my old, safe route to Serangoon Gardens and back
2015 02 Cycling Activity 30 49 km  RunKeeper

A night ride after an evening tutorial to Kranji Reservoir and back.
2015 03 Cycling Activity 52 24 km  RunKeeper 1

The second Sunday ride was faster and cramp-free, with a bit of touring thrown in!
2015 04 Cycling Activity 86 95 km  RunKeeper

Zendog rides are never full blown training rides. We meet friends for breakfast at Guru’s which is wonderful, chit chatting as we wind down while watching hornbills, parakeets and cockatoos. We take it easy along ECP which has been thronging with all sorts of PCN and beach users this January, which is really nice to see. During all those conversations and sight-seeing, we make observations and learn lots from each other – like how to nuke LINE adverts!

The necessary Avocado milkshake at Marina Bay beckons now that I am reaching that far. We look for otters and their signs there. During the rides, I eyeball the ever changing landscape, examine my field and teaching sites with care, get to know new neighbourhoods, send updates to relevant people and necessary feedback to agencies.

Last Sunday I got to try the Bishan-Kallang Obstacle Course and it lived up to its billing – four bridges and an increasing number of stairs peaking at my old school neighbourhood.

It’s certainly a great way to keep in touch with Singapore and friends.

Some photos from the rides
Early morning rides are sweet – if you can wake up! Here Kenneth increases the pace at Tampines as the sun rises.
2015 01 18 08 15 32 HDR

Prata at Guru’s Banana Leaf Cuisine Pte Ltd, comes with sambal chili, a must have!
2015 01 18 09 03 02

The barge is still in Changi River!
2015 01 18 09 51 51

I am supplied with coconut water to fight off cramps at the ECP pit stop at Area G.
2015 01 18 10 47 41

I love seeing people out on picnics at the beach on a sunny, windy day with ships in the distance and planes overhead.
2015 01 18 09 53 37

Rides can be grim – it always hurts to see loss of green spaces in Singapore, this at Bukit Brown.
2015 01 20 11 48 36

Road widening and other works have turned the Bishan-Marymount junction and the Thomson Road area into a furnace. It is worth examining at midday to realise how precious wayside trees are everywhere. Hopefully more greenery will be planted eventually, but the wide roads have no space in-between lanes for a treeline.
2015 01 20 15 05 19

On evening rides in the west, it’s tense when I get out the PCN into the hustle and bustle of traffic and the many heavy-vehicles. Until the Lim Chu Kang Road area adjacent to the western cemeteries. As I ride though the night, I think of the old villages which used to exist there, primped by remnant makers and sometimes empty buildings. The greenery outside NTU and SCDF along Jalan Bahar area is all ripped up now and is reduced to a miserable single lane in some parts. I would not like to have a truck breathing down my neck there.
2015 01 23 21 14 24

Young un’s Meryl & Gladys discover John Cougar Mellencamp (“Jack and Diane”) playing off Kenneth’s bluetooth speakers.
2015 01 25 11 06 56

Requisite Avocado milkshake at Marina Bay, and catching up with kakis.
2015 01 25 12 12 22 HDR

Looking for otter spraints; Meryl and I suggested a vegetation screen to replace the cut long grass so that otters are encouraged to return to the reservoir bank there. Adrian Loo & his GBB team will look into it.
2015 01 25 11 28 12

Kenneth & Gladys climb one of four overhead bridges along the Bishan-Kallang Obstacle Course. My neighbourhood roads of old are no more and these crossings are a lifeline in an area peppered by highways and fast roads.
2015 01 25 13 13 43

National Aerated Water Co. Ltd. – the building is still here!
2015 01 25 13 06 32

Almost miraculously, the old St. Andrew’s School building is still present, and thankfully it is a heritage building!
2015 01 25 13 15 20

A Gift from the Heart for Easter 2014 from the St. Andrew’s Alumni

SAS badgeFund-raising by the St. Andrew’s Alumni for needy students in the schools

“Dear Fellow Saints,

A Gift From the Heart For Easter 2014

Since 2008, Saint Andrew’s Alumni has made a gift every Easter to over 200 students from our Junior, Secondary School and Junior College on the financial assistance scheme (FAS). This gesture also goes to express our care and concern as elder comrades to our less fortunate younger Saints

Each year we target to raise about $20,000/- for the project. All this will not be possible without your generous contributions and support.

With Easter upon us, we hope that you can once again give us your fullest support to carry on this tradition. We suggest a donation of $50/- and more if you wish.

Do send this appeal to friends and fellow Saints, to rally their support. All funds collected will be disbursed solely for the Easter Gift project.

How you can contribute?

  • Crossed Cheque to be made to “ST ANDREW’S ALUMNI”.
  • Please indicate at the back of the cheque “A Gift From The Heart For Easter 2014”
  • and Your Name and Contact Tel No
  • Send the Cheque to: St Andrew’s Alumni,
    1 Francis Thomas Drive #01-10
    Singapore 359340
  • Please send an email to Mr. Ding Lit Siong ( or Mr. Goh Chong Hiang ( to alert them about the cheque so that they don’t miss the donation.

Thanks in advance for the support.

Up and On!

On Behalf of Saint Andrew’s Alumni
Mr. Goh Chong Hiang (66/68)
Mr. Ding Lit Siong (cohort 97/0)”

What better day to read this than on Maundy Thursday.

Happy Easter boys!

SAA fund raising

Happy Birthday Chien!

Many happy returns to Yew Chee Chien, here pictured with his family and myself at the 2008 Sungei Buloh Anniversary Walk. This buddy of mine is a firefighter with Changi Airport Group and we met in St. Andrew’s Secondary School way back in 1981.


sas82 - 1990?
With classmates of ours, c. 1990,
going by the shoes!

The cleaning up of Singapore River and Kallang Basin (1977-1987)

The Singapore River was a typically and sadly abused river, a dumping ground from the time people settled along its banks. The growth of modern Singapore amplified that pollution to such an extent that the river was pitch black in many parts. My ecology class always hears about this during the aquatic biomes lecture when I talk about nutrition states of water bodies because the memory of the filthy state of the river still haunts me!

Well-embedded in my mind in particular is the condition of the Kallang River which flowed past St. Andrew’s School – it was a black river and during postwar years, regularly flooded the farming areas of Potong Pasir upriver. Residents sought refuge with the school on Woodsville Hill and this is remembered well in the school’s history alongside other efforts to help our neighbours, to the schoolboys who came later.

Jerome Lim recalls the flood in The Long and Winding Road:

“Potong Pasir would usually be one of the worst hit areas and I remember being able to see only the attap and zinc roofs of houses from the vantage of the block of flats I lived in in Toa Payoh, which overlooked the area. Vegetable farms were destroyed and much of the livestock kept in the pig and poultry farms would have drowned – another thing I remember seeing is the clean pink carcasses of pigs floating in the flood waters.”

Kallang River is the longest river in Singapore, but spans a mere 10km. It begins from Lower Peirce Reservoir and runs through the boundary of Ang Mo Kio and Bishan, and cuts through Braddell, Toa Payoh and Potong Pasir before passing St. Andrew’s at Woodsville. The Bukit Timah Second Diversion Canal joins it and then tributaries join it from in the Balestier/Serangoon/Whampoa areas (Sungei Whampoa), the MacPherson/ Aljunied/Geylang areas (Pelton Canal), the Serangoon (Little India)/Rochor/Jalan Besar areas (Rochor Canal/River) and the Sims/Geylang/Mounbatten areas (Geylang River).

The confluence drains into the Kallang Basin, northeast of the Singapore River – explore OneMap for the complete system and for a trace of the main Kallang River, see this map:

Kallang River - Google Maps

In Tim Light’s recollection of his days in St. Andrew’s School, he remarks,

“My recollection of the school in 1961 is that it was a large building set in a semi-rural location. The playing fields were extensive, and the Kallang river formed one boundary. We were warned to stay away of the river, on account of the aggressive crocodiles, which had been known to attack humans. I never went near the river.”

Heritage blogger and author, Lam Chun See who hosts Tim’s articles, provides the important clarification:

“Your teachers did right to warn you to keep clear of the Kallang River. If you had fallen in, you were unlikely to be attacked by crocodiles. More likely you would be overwhelmed by the stench of dead chickens, pigs and other animals. … We kampong folks [upriver] used to call the Kallang River, “Dead Chicken River“? “

Earlier in his blog, Chun See had written,

“Many of the village folks (not our family, I must declare) used to discard dead animals like chickens, dogs and even pigs into the river. The resulting stench was sometimes so strong that whenever we walked or cycled past the river, we had to hold our breaths. Sometimes, when the tide was low, you could even see the maggots crawling all over the carcasses, a sight that even we kampong kids found it difficult to stomach.

PICAS - Litter on river bank of the Kallang River
– Litter on a river bank of the Kallang River, 1976

PICAS - Improvement works along Kallang River to reduce flooding (1968)
– Improvement works along Kallang River (Braddell)
to reduce flooding (1968), with the new flats of
Toa Payoh in the background

PICAS - Drowned pigs in Kallang River, 1978
– Drowned pigs in Kallang River, 1978

PICAS - Looking out for crocs along the Kallang River
– Looking out for crocs along the Kallang River (1976).
I could easily been one of those boys!

In the 70’s when I was in the primary school, things had not improved. Retrieving a precious football which had gone astray from the school field into the river was a descent into hell and would mark you, well, for the rest of the day! The smell was glorious of course, as there was plenty of hydrogen sulphide emerging from anoxic processes in the mud.

It was a much shallower river then as it was well silted up.

We did not have a swimming pool in the school then, but we were proud of our stinky river and I missed it when we went away to SAJC in 1983-4, which was then in Malan Road along the Southern Ridges.

Saints Bridge over the Kallang River (Yee Teck Peng)
Saints Bridge over the Kallang River (Photo by Yee Teck Peng)

Bridging St Andrew's…
“Bridging St Andrew’s…” by David T. B. Yeo on Flickr

Well, that is all thankfully a distant memory and the waters of the basin are in a much better state now. In 2006, the primary and secondary schools of St. Andrew’s were reunited with the junior college and connected to it by our very own bridge across the Kallang River.

When I helped my buddy Yew Chee Chien manage operations during the St. Andrew’s Carnival (part of the school’s 150th Anniversary celebrations) in April this year, I stood on the bridge during the safety recce to contemplate the healthier condition of the river.

And wished it could be just as so all over Southeast Asia.

That the river was clean was no result of popular wisdom. It took a massive, dedicated and integrated effort spanning a decade, from the challenge issued by PM Lee Kuan Yew in 1977 to the time sandy beaches were created on Kallang Basin.

By 1984, the river was clean enough for a mass swim to be organised across the river. It included the artist and Parliamentary Secretary for Education, Ho Kah Leong. Despite a dead dog being fished out moments before the swim, the event was a success and marked the transformation of the river. Certainly the 400 who swam the river have boasting rights!

The Straits Times, 16 May 1984, Page 8 - "Taking the plunge" in the Singapore River
The Straits Times, 16 May 1984: 8:

“Taking the plunge” [in the Singapore River] by Brian Miller.

Key dates in the Kallang Basin and Singapore River clean-up: The Straits Times, 25 June 1987, Page 3
The Straits Times, 25 June 1987:
“Key dates in the Kallang Basin and Singapore River clean-up”

Everyone living in Singapore should have some familiarity with the transformation of the river and an easy way to get acquainted with the scale of operations is to flip through this colourful presentation from PUB (2004), just click to view or download:

“The Cleaning Up of Singapore River and Kallang Basin (1977 – 1987).”
Drainage Department, PUB; Jan 2004.

The phenomenal changes incurred a social cost, which is discussed in Stephen Dobbs’ (2003), “The Singapore River: A Social History, 1819-2002.” 220p. Available from NUS Press.

"The Singapore River: A Social History, 1819-2002." by Stephen Dobbs

The least we can do now is to keep our rivers clean. As land and water is connected, this means keeping our ground litter-free too. A fairly straight-forward principle, one might think.

Left to our own devices though, would we keep our rivers from turning black again?

Other relevant links

Update – 4th October 2012

On 2nd October 2012, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources released the free 11MB pdf of their 40th anniversary book by Jessica Cheam, “Forging a greener tomorrow” (205p.) – link


Announcing the St Andrew’s 150th Anniversary Commemorative Book: “Hearts Courageous” – pre-order copies now

Dear Saints,

some exciting news – the long-awaited book about the history of the school by Mrs Belinda Charles, former principal of St. Andrew’s Junior College and St. Andrew’s Secondary School, has just been announced.

The book is 272-pages long in full colour; hard-cover copies cost $100 and soft-cover cost $30. Pre-order by email:

UP and ON!

Hearts Courageous

Lucy Toh says, “Fri 18 May Evening: Saints, a lovely night out is coming your way!”

Dear Saints,

Don’t you think it’s time for a night out?

A special post-exam treat for sons, daughters, nephews and nieces…
A chance to catch up with old schoolmates…
An evening with your lovely wife/charming husband…

Saints 150 Gala Night

450 students from all three schools have been putting in
hours of rehearsal since the beginning of the year.
This is the first time that the Saints are coming together
for an arts event on this scale ever!

It would be a great encouragement to these talented young Saints
to have a ‘Cloud of Unseen Witness’
(because they can’t see past the footlights, you know)
cheering and clapping like crazy for them!

Please go to this link: Gala Night (Sistic) to book your tickets NOW!



ps. Handy Tip: Have an alfresco dinner at ALCOVE.ASIAN RESTAURANT.BAR at the University Cultural Centre. It’s really nice!

Mrs Lucy Toh
St Andrew’s Secondary School
15 Francis Thomas Drive
Singapore 359342
Tel: 62851944 Fax: 6382 3779