Archive for August, 2008

My First Pair Of Jeans

Do you still remember when you bought your first pair of jeans? What size was your first pair of jeans? What color and what brand? Haha, not many can remember right?

I remember my first pair of jeans is white color and to match with my white shirt. No I’m not wearing that to join any political party hehe. I bought my first white Texwood jean when I was 16 and used it as my school pants. So I had to remove that obvious big label (like one shown above) and avoid walking near the school disciplinary master (bulldog and Mr.Mok of Victoria School then).

Wearing something that was disallowed is challenging and fun when went undetected! Guess what, my size then was something like 27 or 28 and now…….35 or 36…..sigh…..only 30 years ago. Slowly other popular brands were added to my wardrobe, brands like Hara, Lee, Amcol, Levis, and later came Wrangler.

I used to buy my jeans at the Peninsula Plaza or Shopping Centre and the Columbo Court as after buying, I could have it alter at those tailoring shops at the Capitol cinema multi-storey carpark. Those were my favourite hunt for jeans then and prices were not expensive like now. I also have a couple of thick ‘cowboy’ belt to match with the jeans too haha.  Those were the days…


When I was searching for some old documents in my drawer, I came across my old SRP. You may ask what’s “SRP”, it’s “Singapore Restricted Passport”. The younger generation may not be aware of it but it’s our blue passport for travel to West Malaysia only.

After Singapore separated from Malaysia on 8 August 1965, freedom of movement existed between the two countries for a short period of time. Later 2 checkpoints were built, one at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and the other at Woodlands Checkpoint. Malaysians entering Singapore had to produce their identity cards until passports were used on both sides in July 1967.

Thus from 1 July 1967, this Singapore Restricted Passport was issued to facilitate travel to West Malaysia only. So to travel to West Malaysia, the Singapore restricted passport and the Singapore Certificate of Identity was needed. The Singapore Restricted Passport Centre was set up in South Quay. It moved to Outram Road in 1976 and closed its doors on 31 December 1994. I believed the General Post Office was given the task to first issue this Special Causeway Passport around May to June 1967;

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

A passport office was opened at Joo Chiat Complex on the fourth floor on 5 Nov 1984. This office issued both international and restricted passports and was closed on Sep 1999. Due to falling demand and the introduction of the new passport system, the SRP was abolished. SRPs were no longer issued from 1 Jan 1999 and were valid for travel until 31 Dec 1999.

When was the last time I used it? Nov 1988 and that was the year I completed my 6 yrs contract with the Air Force. Now I remember I first applied for this Restricted Passport to go to Malaysia when I was 17 yrs old. Probably had a trip there with some classmates after Sec.4 while waiting to go Poly.

This passport was also used when I drove in to Johore Bahru with my camp mates during my signed-on days in the Air Force. Rather convenient to drive to  JB from Tengah Air Base. The thing I hate most is filling in this card;

Why? Because I always have problem in filling the “Last place of embarkation” and “Next Destination”.

I remember my SRP was renewed once at this Joo Chiat Complex in 1985. But where did I get my SRP from in 1979? Is it Empress Place or Outram Road (which part of Outram, I really don’t know. Maybe Peter and Chun See will know)?

Below shows Joo Chiat Complex in 1985;

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

For more details, read here.

C.K.Tang 詩家董

When I read about the recent news article “Kidney-for-sale: CK Tang chairman charged with 3 counts” on 10 Jul 2008, Straits Times, I couldn’t believe my eyes. CK Tang’s chairman Tang Wee Sung, 55, was charged in court with trying to buy a kidney from a living donor, for which he was willing to pay $300,000 to a middleman to procure it.

Mr Tang Wee Sung is the second son of the late Mr Tang Choon Keng, founder of Tangs department store. He joined the Company in 1975, at the age of 22. The late Mr. C.K. Tang died at the ripe age of 99 on 3 Sep 2000.

I remember when I was still staying with my Godparents place at Beatty Road, in the 60s and 70s, C.K. Tang was commonly known as 詩家董百貨公司. You may read more about how C.K.Tang started in Singapore here.

Below are the summary of it;

– 1923, Mr. C.K.Tang came to Singapore. He started off as a door-to-door salesman and would hired a rickshaw to put his pair of tin trunk which probably still around now (but no photo of it shown so far). He was later known as the “Tin Trunk Man” or “Curio King”. His products then were just hand-made Swatow lace, emboidery and linen.

– 1932, 9 years after he came to Singapore, he saved enough to set up his first store on the first floor of a building in River Valley Road. His initial capital was only $3000!

– 1940, he built an edifice probably named after his father Mr. Tang Gan Urn “Gainurn Building”. This was located at the corner of Jalan Mohamad Sultan and River Valley Road. I know that a buidling by the same name “Gainurn Building” is still around there and it’s near to the UE Square but whether it’s the same building, I don’t know. I’ve not taken a look at the building now, but here is how it looked like in the 40s;

Credit :

Credit : Photo taken by Victor Koo. Gainurn Bldg in 2008. As mentioned by Victor, note the pillars of both bldg.

Credit : Google

– 1958, he bought a 1,351sq.m. piece of land at the corner of Orchard Road and Scotts Road at a price of $10,000. Though this site faced the then Tai Shang Ting cementary, he believed it had commercial value.

Below shows the aerial view and photo of the original CK Tang store at Orchard Road in the 50s;

Credit : Editions Didier Millet, Over Singapore 50 Years Ago, by Brenda Yeoh and Theresa Wong.

Below shows the late Mr. CK Tang at his new building in Orchard (1958);

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

It was not so smooth sailing for CK Tang after opening at this Orchard Road site. In 1960 it was closed due to problems with trade unions but reopened the following year. Below shows the labour strike at CK Tang in 1960;

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

A few months before the above strike in 1960, Mr. Tang was kidnapped by four armed thugs, but was freed unharmed within 84 hours after the family reportedly paid S$150,000 in ransom. I really respect his “never give up” attitude.

And this is how it looked like in 1962;

The green tiled roof and facade was said to be modelled after the China’s Imperial Palace in the Forbidden City. I find resemblance to the old OCBC bank building near the Singapore River then;

Credit :

– 1982, the old green tiled roof building was demolished to make way for expansion – a 33 storey Dynasty Hotel (now renamed as Singapore Marriott Hotel) and the Tangs shopping complex (now Tang Plaza).

Credit :

You can see that the new complex still retained the same green-tiled roof pattern, but of course I don’t think it is the “recycled” green roof from the old building. So did the late Mr. CK Tang retain anything from the old building? Maybe yes, I thought, probably that pair of stone lion outside the building;

But how many stone lions are there? Is the above pair the same old pair, I don’t know….see for yourself the below photo in 1983 when the lions were placed at the footpath during the construction of the new complex;

Credit : National Archives Of Singapore, PICAS

Hope that all these stone lions can bring good luck to their owners.

How many still remember the fire at Tangs in 2006 December?

Credit : pigaholicling

Oh, there is one thing that was memorable about CK Tang – it was probably the only major shopping centre that did not operate on Sunday until 1996! That was to allow his family and his Christian staff to attend church on Sundays.

My Version Of Old Singapore Videos Remake For National Day 2008

This is my version of plagraism – a remake by editing all old Singapore videos together.

I give credit to all original sources, but it’s getting late now and I’ll put in the credits next few days time (pls bear with me). If I left you out, kindly inform me…

Thanks to Victor who SMS to highlight that video to me and gave me the inspiration. Took me 2 days to do it and rushing to post it up on National Day. Though it’s already 11.12pm now, hope you enjoyed it as it’s terribly done.


Let me append the following today;

Though it’s our 43rd National Day this year, but let’s not forget about our past. I’ve put together some old videos from some very good sources (credit to them) and hope you all like it. As I’m using the Adobe Premiere Element 1 (given free with videocam) and my pc is rather slow, so it had taken me quite sometime to do it. Moreover to convert videos from Youtube to .avi is rather slow…

Here are the credits to the original sources and should I left out any, pls let me know:

– Michael Rogge

– Rony Tan

– Dick Lee

– Kit Chan

– Hkgalbert

– Floser75



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August 2008