Sunday, September 4, 2011


Four areas in Chinatown were given conservation status on 7 July 1989. They are the areas of Kreta Ayer, Telok Ayer, Bukit Pasoh and Tanjong Pagar. These consist mainly of 2 -3 storey shophouses of transitional, late and Art Deco shophouse style. Most of the buildings have been restored to its former glory but the thriving activites and way of life that I used to remember as a child have long been gone.

In September 1983, 500 street hawkers were removed from Chinatown's streets and many went into the Kreta Ayer Complex, but many other unlicensed ones disappeared from the scene.

The removal of rent control since the early 1990s has also forced many traditional businesses out of the old shophouses and in its place comes advertising agencies, marketing firms, lawyers' offices, pubs and restaurants. 

Singapore's Chinatown is uncharacteristic of many Chinatowns elsewhere in the world. Clean and organised with offices and many shops selling tourist souvenirs. I miss the Chinatown that my mum and grandma used to go. The authorities certainly did well in terms of the cleaning up but sadly, the soul and spirit of most of the traditional enterprise got cleaned out as well.  

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