Bye Bye To Hollywood Theatre And Lion City Hotel Part 2

…continued from Part1.

Sorry for the long delay in the second part of this post.

After 43 years, the Lion City Hotel was gone…Yes, this Lion City Hotel costing $4.2M then was opened in 1968 by the late Dr.Goh Keng Swee, the Minister for Finance. Construction of the hotel started in 1965 at the junction of Tanjong Katong Road and Geylang Road by Wee Thiam Siew Co. Ltd.

C redit : Singapore Press Holding, SPH

It was a 10 storey hotel with 168 fully aircon rooms. It was then near to the Singapore Airport which was at the Paya Lebar then and the city. You will be surprise with the rate then : $30 to $35 for Single Room, $40 to $45 for Double Room, $60 for Family Suite and $90 for Deluxe Room.

Those who had been to the hotel, the shopping complex below was considered an unique feature and one of the largest then. It housed an emporium which sold China products, and there were also a snack-bar, and finance company and bank. There was even a first class restaurant then on the first floor catering both European and Chinese dishes in the evening with a live band playing soft music for dancing. On the ground floor, there was a cocktail lounge too. Maybe many may not be aware that there was even a swimming pool located on one of the floor in the hotel but in the later years, the pool was removed.

It is sad that the Lion City Hotel together with the Hollywood Theatre had to make way for new developments. When you are reading this post, the hotel and it’s surrounding are gone;

Above : Lion City Hotel then

Above : Lion City Hotel going

And the surrounding Hin Hollywood Canteen also disappear;

Above : Then

Above : Gone

So what is left now is probably the Thank You note from their website;

Credit : Lion City Hotel

I remember when I moved in to Haig Road in the 70s, there was the Oriental Emporium on the ground and 1st floor on the Lion City Hotel;

Above 3 Credits : Lee Kip Lin and National Library Board, taken in 1994

Oh the McDonald and Kentucky Fried Chicken were there too! The KFC was opened in 1982 and you can see their ads looking for helpers for the 20th outlet at Lion City Hotel;

Credit : SPH, Straits Times

Of course at one time, the 人民百货公司 (People’s Emporium) was there in place of the Oriental Emporium. Only until the later years, it became a furniture showroom and the ground floor with a mixture of shops;

I still preferred the Oriental Emporium as I liked window shopping there after my dinner as they had a more variety of goods.

Some of the shops already moved out during the last few weeks;

The Happy Restaurant (双喜楼) just besides the main entrance to the hotel;

The restaurant was located upstair on the 1st floor;

In fact almost every year during the Chinese New Year, I would still go there to buy the Yu Sheng (鱼生). I also got mix-up and confused with the other similar names of the restaurant nearby – one at the Tanjong Katong Complex, while the other one in Lion City Plaza.

Even my father like the claypot rice in the Lion City Cafe;

I remember there was once Filipino live band playing in this cafe/snack bar;

The Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlet was just round the corner;

The main entrance to the Lion City Hotel;

The hotel lobby;

The hotel back entrance;

The ‘sheltered carpark’ of the hotel;

The linkway joining the shopping complex and the hotel;

You can see a spiral staircase joined to it;

You can see the other spiral staircase on the right side partially hidden by the tree;

In the past, I like to walk to the Oriental Emporium via this back entrance;

The aerial view of the Oriental Emporium from the Haig Road flats (I supposed) in 1984;

Credit :  PICAS, Naitonal Archive of Singapore

I’m trying to get the same aerial view from the top floor of the flat;

The demolishing of the government quarters in 1974 to make way for the Haig Road Hawker Centre and flats. In the background is the Lion City Hotel with the linkway;

Credit :  PICAS, Naitonal Archive of Singapore

Looking at the Hollywood Theatre from the demolished government quarters in 1974;

Credit :  PICAS, Naitonal Archive of Singapore

When I first look at the above photo, the Hollywood Theatre was not so obvious until I compared it with the below photo;

Distant view of the Lion City Hotel probably from the Sims Avenue or Geylang Road junction;

A 1970 photo of the Lion City Hotel;

Above 2 credits : PICAS, Naitonal Archive of Singapore

Current View;

1994 view of the hotel from the overhead bridge;

Below is one I took from the overhead bridge in 2011;

What my father wrote;
“A Stumble May Prevent A Fall.”

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 190,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 3 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

Click here to see the complete report.

2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.


Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 170,000 times in 2011. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 7 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Bye Bye To Hollywood Theatre And Lion City Hotel Part 1

What’s the link between Hollywood Theatre and Lion City Hotel? Well they are both owned by the late property magnate Mr.Wee Thiam Siew. Mr.Wee Thiam Siew also owned the not too long demolished Seven Storey Hotel. The Seven Storey Hotel was built in 1953, followed by Hollywood Theatre in 1957. The Hollywood Theatre was opened by the cinema magnate late Mr.Loke Wan Tho in 1958.

I’ll blog on Hollywood Theatre in Part 1 and Lion City Hotel in Part 2.

I remember whenever I drove past the Thiam Siew Ave, my mother would point to me the corner house nearer to Haig Road and said “See, that was the Hollywood Theatre boss’ house”. At that time, I thought that it must be some rumours from the wet market aunties spread to her; but when I’m researching for this topic, I think it might be true. Just a few streets away from the Hollywood Theatre and Lion City Hotel, along the Haig Road, you can find Thiam Siew Avenue. It was named after Mr.Wee Thiam Siew in 1939. It was originally known as Thiam Siew Road. In 1940, he proposed to the Municipal Commissoner to have it renamed as an Avenue so that the properties value will increased. Probably I’ll blog on Mr.Wee Thiam Siew in the near future.

The opening of Hollywood Theatre in 1958;

Hollywood Theatre in 1958;

Above 2 credits : PICAS, National Archives of Singapore

And how it looks like now in 2011;

Of course you cannot find the name Hollywood Theatre on the building itself anymore as it is now Sheng Siong Supermarket. Surprisingly the only place where you can find the full name “Hollywood Theatre” is at the fence of the power generator besides the theatre, in the Lion City Hotel carpark just in front of the KFC;

When I was still in the army, I would like to watch a movie (mainly Mandarin shows) in this Hollywood Theatre as it was cheaper with my 11B (soldier’s identity card).  Of course at times there were rats running across the feet while watching the show. And if it’s a night show, there were some food and drink stalls in front of the theatre in its early years. With the introduction of multiplex and the increased in movie ticket price, this theatre screened its last show in end of June 1995. You will be surprised to know that this typical Chinese theatre last movie was a French show “Le Parfum d’Yvonne”.

Hollywood Theatre in 1994, just a year before its last show;

Credit : PICAS, National Archives of Singapore

Same view in 2011;

A rather deserted theatre, as view from the overhead bridge in 1994;

Credit : PICAS, National Archives of Singapore

After 17 years (2011), the 2 trees in front of the theatre have grown much bigger;

I’ve not seen the escalator moving so far. The overhead bridge linking City Plaza to the front of Hollywood Theatre;

The carpark entrance, turning right after entry to the theatre; turning left to the Lion City Hotel;

There are more parking spaces at the side of the theatre. On the left is the previous Yock Eng High School, now become CDAC;

The Hollywood Theatre almost turned into a multiplex if not for a fail negotiation between the owner and Eng Wah Organisation for a longer lease. At that time, the owner was only willing to lease it out on a 2 to 3 years basis, thus in 1995, the City Harvest Churh settled down at this venue;

Credit : City-News

The old theatre stage still remained. Many of the new multiplex cinemas are without such stage;

Credit : Quiet Confidence, Em

It was said that Siew Fung Fung and Fong Bo Bo once performed here on this stage during its heyday. Even when it was being used as a supermarket, they still retained the stage. Somehow, the City Harvest Church ended her lease in 2001 and Sheng Siong Supermarket took over from then till now 31 Aug 2011;

Besides the Hin Hollywood Canteen, construction already going on, think it’s for a substation by SP Powerassets;

The back of the theatre facing the Hin Hollywood Canteen;

The carpark exit booth (behind the white car). Very troublesome, have to wait for your change. In the past, this was 2-way (out/in);

Behind the theatre is the Hin Hollywood canteen that I called Hollywood coffee shop;

There are already many bloggers blogging on this coffee shop, so I will not elaborate on this eatery. Frankly having stay here for so many years, I don’t find the food here fantastic. Somehow after the Mediacorps showed the documentary on this coffee shop, many people flocked to it before it was demolished;

Before I end the Part 1, below is the excerpt from the Mediacorps documentary on the Hin Hollywood Canteen;

Credits : Mediacorps, PICAS, National Archives of Singapore

I’ll blog on the Lion City Hotel in Part 2.

What my father wrote;
“Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”

Guess Where Quiz No.5?

The above photo shows a 43 years old spiral staircase leading to nowhere. Guess where is this place located and what building is this. Clue : There are 2 such staircase in that place!

Note : I’ll blog about this place soon.

What my father wrote;

“If the staff be crooked, the shadow cannot be straight.”

My Wedding 19 Years Ago Was A By-Election Year

Come this 7 May 2011 is Singapore General Election again! It’s polling day on this Saturday and it’s probably the first time for many young residents in Marine Parade GRC too. For almost 2 decades (19 years ago) since the 1992 By-Election, the Marine Parade GRC had been a walkover. My parents in their 80s this year, who are still staying in Haig Road (under Marine Parade GRC), will be going for poll this Saturday finally.

Why was there a By-Election in 1992? The 1992 By-Election was called after Lim Chee Onn of PAP, retired from politics to return to the private sector. What’s so special about this By-Election then?

– It’s the first GRC By-Election.

– It was called by the then Prime Minister Goh C.T. At that time, both the DPMs, Mr Lee Hsien Loong and Mr Ong Teng Cheong, came down with cancer at the same time.

– To allow WP chief J. B. Jeyaretnam to contest an election upon his 10 years ban ending just after the 1991 General Election. But on nomination day, WP failed to file its nomination due to the tardiness of a candidate.

– For SDP, we saw Dr. Chee Soon Juan (30 then) first introduced to Singapore politics, while Teo Chee Hean (37 then) came into PAP Marine Parade GRC via this By-Election.

Credit : 新明日报, SPH

The PAP won that By-Election in 1992 with 48,965 votes (72.9%) against SDP, NSP and SJP. In 1991 General Election, PAP won with 51,685 votes (77.2%) against just SJP only. So how will this year 2011 General Election result be for Marine Parade GRC? It will be interesting to watch NSP vs PAP in this GRC especially with their young candidates Nicole Seah and Tin Pei Ling respectively.

Credit : 新明日报, SPH

We had our traditional wedding planned a year ago (need to book restaurant in advance, etc) and didn’t expect the By-Election to clash with our wedding. Of course we had to re-schedule and made preparation for going to the polling centre. My wife and I both had to go to a different polling centres as she was staying at Geylang Road and I was at Haig Road.

We went to my wife’s polling centre at Maha Bodhi School located at Geylang Lor 34 first.

After that, we rushed back to Block 4, Haig Road where my polling centre was;

We were then interviewed by the reporters after the voting;

Well General Election may be once every 4 or 5 years, but By-Election is not very common and to have it clash with your wedding…I think it’s really something very memorable.

What my father wrote;

“A little man may cast a great shadow”

Marina Bay In 1800s?

Last month I’ve read in the online portal STOMP about the Past and Present of Marina Bay;

The above were among some of the photos of Singapore and major cities of the world Past and Present comparison sent in by Stomper Vassili .

Below shows the Present Marina Bay in 2011;

compared to Past Marina Bay in 1800s;

Above photos credit : STOMP

This thought ran through my mind : Is there a Marina Bay in Singapore during 1800s? In the Present photo of the Marina Bay, it shows the Marina Bay Sands on the right and the Singapore Art Science Museum at the centre left, with the Custom House tower on the foreground left and the Promontary @ Marina Bay on the foreground right. From this view, I can deduced that the photographer probably viewed the Marina Bay from the location shown below by the red star;

So in the Past photo comparison of Marina Bay in 1800s, from the same angle of view by the photographer – is there a Marina Bay?

First what and where is Marina Bay? If I will to Google, I will find “Bay” as “A bay is an area of water mostly surrounded or otherwise demarcated by land. Bays generally have calmer waters than the surrounding sea, due to the surrounding land blocking some waves and often reducing winds. It can also be an inlet in a lake or pond.” by Wiki. The Marina Bay is actually a sheltered body of water formed by the reclaimed land at Marina Centre and Marina South.

I remembered my first encountered were probably shopping at the Marina Square shopping mall and Marina Mandarin Hotel in that area. Later on were the SuperBowl and Victor’s Bowl at Marina South, also for the “eat all you can” seafood buffet, kite flying / football area, and not forgetting the game arcade. Of course the most memorable thing is not tearing the parking coupon while eating out at the seafood buffet and once the parking warden was there, many dinners were rushed to their cars to tear the parking coupons. Probably this is the meaning of  “United We Stand”!

The development of Marina Bay probably started as early as in 1969. You can see the shoreline or coastline before 1962 and present;

Credit : Pearson Education South Asia Pte Ltd 2002

Also below shows the stages of land reclamation of the Marina Bay from 1969;

Credit : Pearson Education South Asia Pte Ltd 2002

Those familiar with the area will probably remembered the Marina City Park and Marina South Promenade which were closed in 2007 to be rebuilt into Gardens by the Bays. Those statues at the Marina City Park have already been relocated to the Chinese Garden;

Now take a look at the development of the Marina Centre first. In 1969 when the Concept Plan of Marina Centre just started, let’s take a look at the aerial view;

Credit : MyPaper, Singapore Press Holdings

Land reclamation started in the early 1970s for the Marina Centre to take shape as shown above. Also see the old map below showing the view;

The reclamation of Marina Centre was completed in 1978 and among the first projects like Marina Square shopping mall which houses the 3  hotels, Marina Mandarin, Mandarin Oriental Singapore and Pan Pacific, were opened in the late 1980s. Of course, Suntec City was later developed in the Marina Centre during the 1990s.


Credit : MyPaper, Singapore Press Holdings

Flanking the Marina Bay in the south is the Marina South. See the land reclamation phase of the Marina South in 1977 below;

Credit : The Sunday Times, Singapore Press Holdings

In the foreground (above 1977, 1986), you can see the Marina Centre development over the 9 years period. As for the Marina South, those interim setup like the 2 bowling alleys, Chong Pang and Chin Huat Live Seafood restaurants, game arcade, etc. had to close down (2008) for the redevelopment of Marina South;

Credit : The Sunday Times, Singapore Press Holdings

Remembered the National Day static and firework displays held at the Marina South in the past;

I remembered seeing the huge Singapore Flag being tied to the Super Puma during the National Day parade at the Marina East before doing the fly past.

The Marina City is made up of these 3 plots of reclaimed land : Marina Centre, Marina South and Marina East. The Marina East was reclaimed off the Tanjong Rhu joining the East Coast Park. The Marina City;

Credit : Gerald H, Krausse, J. Wong (Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1976)

By middle of 1980s, about 40% of the both Marina South and Marina East was sheduled to be completed.

Aeria view of the Marina City;

Credit : LTA

One of the major projects is linking the Marina East to Marina South via the MCE (Marina Coastal Expressway), the 10th expressway in Singapore. This dual 5-lane, 5km expressway has part of it a undersea and underland tunnel. The MCE is expected to be completed by 2013.

Artists impression of the MCE;

Linking the part at Marina East;

Above 3 Credit : LTA

Personally I feel that with the Marina City fully built-up, I feel pity for the Merlion – seems to be encased up by the Marina Centre, Marina East and Marina South;

Credit : URA

Credit : CyberPioneer

So my conclusion is that Marina Bay is not even developed or ready in the 1800s. The old photo of Marina Bay in 1800s shown is probably looking in the reversed direction facing the old Johnston’s Pier.


What my father wrote;

“All colours will agree in the dark”


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April 2020