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Feb 3, 2010

"Memories of HDB" - Mr Black Tan, Guest Blogger

Black Tan (left of photo)

With the "Year of the Tiger" in 2 weeks, I would like to take this opportunity to greet everyone "Best Wishes for A Happy and Prosperous Lunar New Year with Good Health, Good Luck and Happiness".

This is a special blog to coincide with a verbal (not written) Guest Blog by Mr Black Tan with 33 years working at Housing & Development Board (HDB). How much apart can a person separate his life for over 3 decades from the same organisation until the day of his job fulfillment retirement in August 1995.

HDB celebrated its 50th Anniversary in February, 2010. Its a special tribute to HDB and the growth through the 5 decades of rapid changes for housing of people from attap squatters to HDB heartland housing estates to "The Pinnacle@Duxton", the tallest HDB public housing project in Singapore.

This blog is not about HDB per se, not about the corporate policies, the various concepts of methods, systems and machine required for the remaking of HDB over the decades, the adaptability to improve the building designs, computerisation, resource development. Most these historical and updated information are at HDB InfoWEB .

This blog is an exceptional unofficial interview for our guest blog specially for Black Tan. It is not a blog to express; not as a blog to brag for a personal showcase. Hundred and thousands of HDB men and women over the decades have contributed and dedicated themselves to HDB for the memories of HDB.

My fellow retired collegues of HDB are welcome to contribute as their blog guests and reminiscence for this topic blog. With due respect to their comments though.

Saim bin Kadir, my former colleague at HDB in 1970. Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

With the consent of Black to share some snippets of their colleagues' experience, of old times, good times, bad times, 33 years time in a same employer all the through. By the way, this is not a biography of Black Tan or his personal or family privacy to blog here.

I just happened to know Black in person as my "newbie, young, fresh, innocent chicken" working as his subordinate, a Counter Cashier at the HDB Cash Office at Maxwell Road. Fumbling along on the job to learn and experience in my early twenties.

During our personal meetup last week in the evening, Black was initially reluctant to publicise what this thingy blog for? However, some happy memories of younger days in HDB. A majority of his fellow colleagues have retired, immigrated overseas or passed on.

After nudging him to share his interesting working experience while we could still remember them. After 73 years young, his brain is still not yet rusty. Not everything or faces of people could recognise them though.

Anyways, he prefer to have more pleasant selective memories, not bad ones or idle gossips to waste his times.

Fine. It is purposeless and meaningless to store memories for grievances and unpleasant things about the past. Buildings are now looking at HDB 50-storey flats now, but we could see how far we have gone from the SIT flats in some places of Singapore over 50 years ago! He has been there, done that...of the various types of HDB flats.

Black first started as a Cashier at 1962 at the HDB Princess House HQ at Alexandra Road. It was then transferred to Queenstown Area Office at Tanglin Halt for 2 years, various other Area Offices and then went to the Cash Office at Maxwell Road as the Finance Supervisor and whom I had the affinity to work with Black (call me "Black", he wanted no one to call him "Blackie", never to forget that....hahaha ;)

Queenstown Area Office in 1970 (above & below). Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Bukit Ho Swee Area Office in 1970. Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

33 years in working for the same employer, an institution for an icon of a national housing development for 50 years this month. An organisation is with a evolutionary, revolutionary culture of its people to have to ever-changing to meet the needs of its internal and external customers, to learn and study, training and not static (motionless and changeless).

Black is a tough guy who thought his style was like John Wayne, but always to tell people that he is 5 feet 4 and a HALF inches in if that half inch made him that more taller in difference ; )

He was popular with Club HDB activities, staff family gathering events and almost everybody in HDB knows him..."Ah Orh" in Hokien. A joker with a contagious loud laughter, sense of humour and talk loudly.

Black sharing his thoughts or his feelings with others as a personality. He behaves like rugged and talk straight. Once many years ago showing the TV serial of "Justice Bao (包青天)", Black was his favorite. His tagline "Come on, lets rough it out" whether for working overtime or get a special assignment out of office hours done.

Was he a slave-master or a sadist? &nbspNot as a personality analysis, an impartial and objective personal judgement of his overall character. But he knew sometimes I felt that he had his command was like his military style and the staff are like stressful and emotional pressure. Whatever it is, he seldom take anything personal except for a job to get done. Its part of his role for a work performance, regardless of fairness (never mind if his complexion is dark, not fair ; ) He is compassion, reasonable in flexibility but no compromise for strict rules and regulations.

Whether it is argument or taking care of the staff welfare, the rational evaluation is always give every a person a right of reply to investigate for staff personnel matters.

Black admitted that about 10 years after retirement, he had matured and mellowed much after age, no longer hot-tempered, trying others to win and lose. It doesn't matter after all over.

After the competition to win score over past colleagues, we are all equal...we are same as retirees. Changes in our ages are no longer young, we are impermanent as mortals.

Blessed thanks God for going through 33 years of survival for past HDB.

Winston Churchill said: "We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us".

Looking at the HDB flats...from SIT to HDB with 50 storey which are building higher and better amenities and designed for the demand of the people for 50 years, nothing will remain unchanged for an inevitable for the future.

Black's favorite song is Frank Sinatra's "My Way" characteristic of Black Tan.

Towards our chitchat near his bedtime, it was too late for us to prolong the talk.

Congratulation to the 50th Anniversary of HDB. Thanks to Black's Guest Blog to share his "Memories of HDB"!



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