Chong Pang, probably one of the most underrated neighbourhoods in Singapore
Yup, there is more to Chong Pang than the famous Chong Pang Nasi Lemak ;)
Take a walk around Chong Pang City, and you will be greeted with sights and smells reminiscent of a typical neighbourhood in Singapore – the various small, family run businesses from your one-stop hardware stores (that seem to sell almost everything), fashion boutiques (who buys clothes from them I wonder? :/), spectacle shops, goldsmith shops to fruit stores where you hear frequent calls of “lehlong, lehlong”, the wafting scent of the unpretentious, freshly baked buns of the many small bakeries that is present all around the neighbourhood, the sight of uncles drinking their Kopi-o in the afternoon, and Tiger at night, and of course the sounds of the usual chatter and banter in the wet market and food centres.
However, what sets it apart from other neighbourhood is its’ rich sense of heritage, proudly displayed all around the area.
Once you step into Chong Pang City, it does almost feel like it is a ‘city’ on its own with the unique Chinese-style gateways flanked around the neighbourhood.
When I first saw those gateways, it reminded me of the Chinese cities we see in those local or TVB period dramas. Indeed, unknown to most (maybe to even some of the Chong Pang residents), Chong Pang actually shares a Sister City relationship with the Xindu County- Chengdu Satellite Town of Sichuan, China! As a symbol of the friendship, Mr K Shanmugan, Member of Parliament for Sembawang GRC (Chong Pang Division) on behalf of Chong Pang presented the Merlion Statue to the residents of the Xindu County so do check it out the Merlion if you ever visit Xindu in Sichuan.
In return, in May 1995, Mr Zhao Dexi, Magistrate of Xindu County-China presented to Chong Pang a mother and baby panda Statue that can be found at the entrance of Chong Pang Garden.
You can check out the full story in this news report from a China TV station here.
At the gateways, you can find signs like this with information about the history and origin of the neighbourhood centre and the person the neighbourhood was named after, Mr Lim Chong Pang, the son of pioneer Lim Nee Soon. Completed in 1984, Chong Pang City was the first neighbourhood centre in Yishun New Town. It took its name from the former Chong Pang Village, which used to be located around present day Sembawang MRT Station, a village started by Lim Chong Pang in the 1930s to house Indian migrants working in the Singapore Naval Base at Sembawang.
In addition to the unique gateways and panda statue, there is an imposing statue of a farmer toiling at the field in the heart of the neighbourhood. It serves as a tribute to the past, when the economic activities of Chong Pang mainly depended on agriculture such as vegetable and fruit planting and poultry rearing. Through the statue, hopefully the young generation can understand our forefathers’ hardship and appreciate the transformation of Nee Soon from a tranquil rural estate to the modern and vibrant town it is today.
So, maybe the next time after having the famous Chong Pang Nasi Lemak, you can consider taking a 10 minutes’ walk to this neighbourhood to admire its unique statues and gateways, as well as learn about the fascinating history of Chong Pang!