Bukit Panjang: Place-History-Poem
Phoenix Heights, the first housing estate in Bukit Panjang, is where we lived longest, since 1975. I first came to know Bukit Panjang village, was when my father Jabez Thumboo had charge in 1940 of issuing identity cards to residents. My next contact with the area was when a group of us undergraduates living in Dunan Road Hostels hiked from Bukit Batok, where the Japanese had built the Chureito War Memorial for the soldiers, along Bukit Panjang down to where it ended in Choa Chu Kang Road, slightly west of the village. We bought our house in 1973 and moved in two years later. I saw the village grow in various stages. This end of Bukit Panjang became a major installation for the Ministry of Defence, as the PAP government expanded the British Cantonment that had been there on the eastern side of the hill, up to the top and down to the parts of the western portion. I had watched its developments and looked at some of them in the long poem, â€œBukit Panjang,â€ I wrote in four Parts. It forms the substance of this article. As I wrote the poem, I realised that some of the events that we experienced as nation, island and individual were not part of the living memory of the younger Singaporeans.
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