Stories of Yesteryear – Changing Landscapes

A curation of 20 videos from the National Archives of Singapore’s Oral History collection, this series is a compilation of moments signifying changes in Singapore’s landscape, from the move to conceptualise Singapore as a city in a garden, to the calculated juxtaposition of the hardscape with the softscape, to the major modifications made to the built environment. These videos offer insights into how such transformations affected the way people lived in the past, as compared to now, and highlight the overall progress Singapore has made as a nation.

A curation of 20 videos from the National Archives of Singapore’s Oral History collection, this series is a compilation of moments signifying changes in Singapore’s landscape, from the move to conceptualise Singapore as a city in a garden, to the calculated juxtaposition of the hardscape with the softscape, to the major modifications made to the built environment. These videos offer insights into how such transformations affected the way people lived in the past, as compared to now, and highlight the overall progress Singapore has made as a nation.

Ep 1 Receptacles for Play
1 min

Oon Jin Teik was the former Chief Executive Officer of Singapore Sports Council and a former national swimmer. In this clip, he talks about how, with the help of several ministries and statutory boards, many more receptacles for play were opened up for public use...

Ep 1 Receptacles for Play

Oon Jin Teik was the former Chief Executive Officer of Singapore Sports Council and a former national swimmer. In this clip, he talks about how, with the help of several ministries and statutory boards, many more receptacles for play were opened up for public use...

Ep 2 The Singapore River Clean-up
2 mins

Lee Ek Tieng was Head of Singapore’s Civil Service. He joined the Civil Service as an engineer at the Singapore City Council in 1958 and was transferred to the Public Works Department in 1962. In this clip, he talks about the Singapore River clean-up, which was conceptualised by the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. The initiative involved re-siting hawkers, providing proper garbage disposal systems, and installing toilets for everyday use...

Ep 2 The Singapore River Clean-up

Lee Ek Tieng was Head of Singapore’s Civil Service. He joined the Civil Service as an engineer at the Singapore City Council in 1958 and was transferred to the Public Works Department in 1962. In this clip, he talks about the Singapore River clean-up, which was conceptualised by the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. The initiative involved re-siting hawkers, providing proper garbage disposal systems, and installing toilets for everyday use...

Ep 3 Night Soil Bucket System
1 min

Chen Hung joined the Singapore City Council and served in the Public Works Department as an Engineer from 1960 to 1967. In this clip, he describes the different sewage disposal systems that were in place in the 1960s. The system has changed from the night soil bucket system, which saw the manual disposal of 40,000 buckets daily by night soil carriers, to the redirection of wastewater into three centralised water reclamation plants...

Ep 3 Night Soil Bucket System

Chen Hung joined the Singapore City Council and served in the Public Works Department as an Engineer from 1960 to 1967. In this clip, he describes the different sewage disposal systems that were in place in the 1960s. The system has changed from the night soil bucket system, which saw the manual disposal of 40,000 buckets daily by night soil carriers, to the redirection of wastewater into three centralised water reclamation plants...

Ep 4 Flyovers and Overhead Bridges
1 min

Choo Thiam Siew was the CEO of the National Arts Council. Trained in horticulture, he joined the Parks Department in 1976 and was involved in Singapore’s garden city project till 1996 before entering the arts sector...

Ep 4 Flyovers and Overhead Bridges

Choo Thiam Siew was the CEO of the National Arts Council. Trained in horticulture, he joined the Parks Department in 1976 and was involved in Singapore’s garden city project till 1996 before entering the arts sector...

Ep 5 From Kampung to HDB Flat
1 min

Soh Sin Yan’s father was an itinerant hawker selling wanton noodles in the 1960s. In this clip, he compares what it was like living in the kampung to the Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat they later shifted to. To listen to the full interview, go to www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/oral_history_interviews/interview/003536

Ep 5 From Kampung to HDB Flat

Soh Sin Yan’s father was an itinerant hawker selling wanton noodles in the 1960s. In this clip, he compares what it was like living in the kampung to the Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat they later shifted to. To listen to the full interview, go to www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/oral_history_interviews/interview/003536

Ep 6 Trams, Bullock Carts, and Rickshaws
1 min

Choor Singh, who was a former Supreme Court judge, arrived in Singapore from Punjab, India in 1917. In this clip, he describes the different means of transportation available during that time. These included horse carriages, trams, rickshaws, and bullock carts. To listen to the full interview, go to www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/oral_history_interviews/interview/001323

Ep 6 Trams, Bullock Carts, and Rickshaws

Choor Singh, who was a former Supreme Court judge, arrived in Singapore from Punjab, India in 1917. In this clip, he describes the different means of transportation available during that time. These included horse carriages, trams, rickshaws, and bullock carts. To listen to the full interview, go to www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/oral_history_interviews/interview/001323

Ep 7 Raffles Place as the Centre of Singapore
1 min

Dr George Yuille Caldwell worked in Singapore as a medical doctor for over thirty years starting in 1958. He was also a published writer. In this clip, he talks about how Raffles Place has changed over the years, from being the centre of Singapore in the 60s and 70s. The iconic departmental store, Robinsons, was also the go-to place for everyone’s shopping needs...

Ep 7 Raffles Place as the Centre of Singapore

Dr George Yuille Caldwell worked in Singapore as a medical doctor for over thirty years starting in 1958. He was also a published writer. In this clip, he talks about how Raffles Place has changed over the years, from being the centre of Singapore in the 60s and 70s. The iconic departmental store, Robinsons, was also the go-to place for everyone’s shopping needs...

Ep 8 Playgrounds of the Past
1 min

Khor Ean Ghee is a renowned watercolourist and former President of the Singapore Art Society. He worked at the Housing & Development Board (HDB) between 1969 and 1984 and designed many of the iconic playgrounds at HDB’s estates during this time. In this clip, he shares how playgrounds have changed over the years and the reasons for this change...

Ep 8 Playgrounds of the Past

Khor Ean Ghee is a renowned watercolourist and former President of the Singapore Art Society. He worked at the Housing & Development Board (HDB) between 1969 and 1984 and designed many of the iconic playgrounds at HDB’s estates during this time. In this clip, he shares how playgrounds have changed over the years and the reasons for this change...

Ep 9 The Evolution of Technology
1 min

Prof. Lim Soo Ping was the Auditor-General of Singapore. He started his public service career at the then Public Works Department (PWD) in 1975. In this clip, Lim shares about his time at the PWD, where he observed a shift from using manual typewriters to word processors. With time, the technology landscape changed further, and communication became faster and easier...

Ep 9 The Evolution of Technology

Prof. Lim Soo Ping was the Auditor-General of Singapore. He started his public service career at the then Public Works Department (PWD) in 1975. In this clip, Lim shares about his time at the PWD, where he observed a shift from using manual typewriters to word processors. With time, the technology landscape changed further, and communication became faster and easier...

Ep 10 Open-Air Cinemas
2 mins

Lee Geok Boi joined The Straits Times in 1977 as a sub-editor and was one of the earliest freelance writers in Singapore. In this clip, she shares about how open-air cinemas were popular among young people during the late 1950s as each ticket cost only 20 cents. To listen to the full interview, go to www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/oral_history_interviews/interview/004019

Ep 10 Open-Air Cinemas

Lee Geok Boi joined The Straits Times in 1977 as a sub-editor and was one of the earliest freelance writers in Singapore. In this clip, she shares about how open-air cinemas were popular among young people during the late 1950s as each ticket cost only 20 cents. To listen to the full interview, go to www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/oral_history_interviews/interview/004019

Ep 11 Relocating Shipyards and Creating Punggol Waterfront Town
2 mins

Mrs Koh-Lim Wen Gin was the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Chief Planner and Deputy Chief Executive Officer between 2001 and 2008. In this clip, she talks about the efforts made to recover Singapore’s waterfront. To achieve this, shipyards were relocated and new waterfront towns like Punggol were developed. To listen to the full interview, go to www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/oral_history_interviews/interview/004198

Ep 11 Relocating Shipyards and Creating Punggol Waterfront Town

Mrs Koh-Lim Wen Gin was the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Chief Planner and Deputy Chief Executive Officer between 2001 and 2008. In this clip, she talks about the efforts made to recover Singapore’s waterfront. To achieve this, shipyards were relocated and new waterfront towns like Punggol were developed. To listen to the full interview, go to www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/oral_history_interviews/interview/004198

Ep 12 Crocodiles in the Wild
1 min

Subaraj Rajathurai was the first professional nature tour guide in Singapore, and he was involved in the conservation efforts of Sungei Buloh. In this clip, he shares about how crocodiles have always been part of the ecosystem. As Sungei Buloh developed, the crocodile population grew but public mindsets became more tolerant, allowing for the crocodiles to coexist with us in publicly accessible nature reserves...

Ep 12 Crocodiles in the Wild

Subaraj Rajathurai was the first professional nature tour guide in Singapore, and he was involved in the conservation efforts of Sungei Buloh. In this clip, he shares about how crocodiles have always been part of the ecosystem. As Sungei Buloh developed, the crocodile population grew but public mindsets became more tolerant, allowing for the crocodiles to coexist with us in publicly accessible nature reserves...

Ep 13 The Origins of the MRT System
3 mins

Pok Sheung Foo was a transport planner with the Public Works Department and a member of the team that developed Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) system. In this clip, he talks about the origins of Singapore's MRT system and why Singapore eventually built the MRT. To listen to the full interview, go to http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/oral_history_interviews/interview/E000021

Ep 13 The Origins of the MRT System

Pok Sheung Foo was a transport planner with the Public Works Department and a member of the team that developed Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) system. In this clip, he talks about the origins of Singapore's MRT system and why Singapore eventually built the MRT. To listen to the full interview, go to http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/oral_history_interviews/interview/E000021

Ep 14 Shift to High-tech Industries
1 min

James Koh Cher Siang was a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministries of National Development, Community Development and Education, and was also Comptroller of Income Tax. In this clip, he explains how the Ministry of Finance's Economic Planning Unit where he served in the 1970s shaped the direction of Singapore’s economy by gradually removing low value-added industries and pivoting instead to higher-tech products and services...

Ep 14 Shift to High-tech Industries

James Koh Cher Siang was a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministries of National Development, Community Development and Education, and was also Comptroller of Income Tax. In this clip, he explains how the Ministry of Finance's Economic Planning Unit where he served in the 1970s shaped the direction of Singapore’s economy by gradually removing low value-added industries and pivoting instead to higher-tech products and services...

Ep 15 Happy & New World Amusement Parks
2 mins

Richard Tan Leng Poh is the Founder and Chair of Garden & Landscape Centre. In this clip, he shares his childhood memories of the Happy and New World Amusement Parks. To listen to the full interview, go to www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/oral_history_interviews/interview/004226

Ep 15 Happy & New World Amusement Parks

Richard Tan Leng Poh is the Founder and Chair of Garden & Landscape Centre. In this clip, he shares his childhood memories of the Happy and New World Amusement Parks. To listen to the full interview, go to www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/oral_history_interviews/interview/004226

Ep 16 Retaining Our Historical Identity
2 mins

Mrs Koh-Lim Wen Gin is the former Chief Planner and Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) between 2001 and 2008. In this clip, she describes how the URA’s Planning and Urban Design Division embarked on a project to protect the historical and cultural districts from being demolished for large-scale development...

Ep 16 Retaining Our Historical Identity

Mrs Koh-Lim Wen Gin is the former Chief Planner and Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) between 2001 and 2008. In this clip, she describes how the URA’s Planning and Urban Design Division embarked on a project to protect the historical and cultural districts from being demolished for large-scale development...

Ep 17 Greening Singapore
1 min

Ng Cheow Kheng is the Group Director of Horticulture and Community Gardening at the National Parks Board. In this clip, he shares how he went about planting fast-growing trees on the reclaimed land around Changi Airport. To listen to the full interview, go to www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/oral_history_interviews/interview/003879

Ep 17 Greening Singapore

Ng Cheow Kheng is the Group Director of Horticulture and Community Gardening at the National Parks Board. In this clip, he shares how he went about planting fast-growing trees on the reclaimed land around Changi Airport. To listen to the full interview, go to www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/oral_history_interviews/interview/003879

Ep 18 The Marina Barrage
3 mins

Yap Kheng Guan is the former Director at the Public Utilities Board in charge of the Marina Barrage project. In this clip, he talks about the significance of this landmark project. He also shares how the project succeeded in meeting both its engineering objectives and vision of becoming a public attraction as well as recreational spot for Singaporeans...

Ep 18 The Marina Barrage

Yap Kheng Guan is the former Director at the Public Utilities Board in charge of the Marina Barrage project. In this clip, he talks about the significance of this landmark project. He also shares how the project succeeded in meeting both its engineering objectives and vision of becoming a public attraction as well as recreational spot for Singaporeans...

Ep 19 The Hotel Zones
1 min

Evlyn Cheong is a former Urban Redevelopment Authority planner and the former President of the Singapore Institute of Planners. In this clip, she talks about the hotel zone in Singapore, which was introduced to jumpstart the economy by bringing in more tourism to the country...

Ep 19 The Hotel Zones

Evlyn Cheong is a former Urban Redevelopment Authority planner and the former President of the Singapore Institute of Planners. In this clip, she talks about the hotel zone in Singapore, which was introduced to jumpstart the economy by bringing in more tourism to the country...

Ep 20 Re-siting Pollutive Industries
2 mins

Tan Gee Paw is the former Chairman of the Public Utilities Board. In this clip, he explains how the industries that were producing toxic wastewater were relocated away from residential areas in the early 70s. To listen to the full interview, go to www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/oral_history_interviews/interview/003170

Ep 20 Re-siting Pollutive Industries

Tan Gee Paw is the former Chairman of the Public Utilities Board. In this clip, he explains how the industries that were producing toxic wastewater were relocated away from residential areas in the early 70s. To listen to the full interview, go to www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/oral_history_interviews/interview/003170

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Additional Information

Stories of Yesteryear – Changing Landscapes
Released2021
Genresarts and heritage, documentary, historical, info-ed
Seasons1
Suitable For All Ages