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A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Jul 1, 2012

Ways Done in the Past - Floods in Singapore

Having fun in the flood in Singapore in 1974
National Archives of Singapore (NAS) description of this photo taken on May 21, 1974 above.  Ways done in the past, floods in Singapore almost 50 years ago.

There are 3 sections on this blog -  (1) Ways done in the present, (2) ways done in the past and (3) ways expected to do in the near future after the drainage improvement for Stamford Canal projects are completed.

Children enjoying themselves in the flood.  The early morning Sumatra (monsoon), travelling at a speed of 15-knots lashed through Singapore from west to east flooding several low lying areas.  The six-hour storm started at 5.30 am when thousands of workers and students were on their way to work and school.  The worst affected areas were Bukit Panjang Village and Tanjong Pagar where the water level was over 30 inches.  Both places were also not passable to traffic.

Section 1 - Ways Done in the Present 

In the recent past, on December 23, 2011, the torrential rain suddenly broke through over the dark skies of Singapore and many people were shocked and disappointed by the occurrence of floods in Singapore.

It happened again on January 21, 2012!

Why happen such a thing in cosmopolitan Singapore which everybody in the world now know Singapore aka "a little red dot" on the map?   Few people today could say that Singapore was a little village in China to travellers in the 1950s.

"Flooding in Singapore" was the talk of the town in everybody's lips and mind.  So sad, they said.

In "new media" spread by the flood (not the Bukit Ho Swee fire I blog about in the past) was flooded with printed words in the newspapers or announced over the radio, TV, sent via iPhone to Facebook or Twitter. The news by words of mouth, in the kopitiam from morning to night; during breakfast, lunch and dinner including teatime and suppertime in between.

"This is the Internet era. Anyone in Orchard Road at that time could easily have pulled out his or her handphone, and taken a photo of the floods and posted it on blogs, forums, Facebook, Stomp, Tweet etc".

Concerned Singaporeans blogged online immediately as the flood happened expressed to blog. 

Yours truly, Thimbuktu, spoke nothing on "Blog to Express" to blog on this topic or to express anything about it like an "unconcerned Singaporean" who doesn't care and hid himself away from kopitiam or to meet anybody, friends or strangers,  from groups in public like as if he knows nothing about the flood in Singapore...just to stay myself warm at home.

To express my blog  about the flood last year at the bottom of the blog.

Here's some caustic remarks, comments, criticisms and scholastic opinions and viewpoints (in quotes) :

"On Saturday (Jan 21, 2012), there was a heavy rain when I was out".

"It was so heavy that I was soaking wet by the time I reached home".

"Finally cool weather but so cold, so wet!"

"Why is Singapore weather so bad?"

"In three hours last Friday, the rain that pelted down on Orchard Road was half of what December typically gets in the entire month. Between 2.20pm and 5.20pm, 152.8mm of rain fell in the area. The long-term average for December - the wettest month in the entire year - is 287.4mm."

"Rainfall levels over the past 142 years may be of some meteorological interest to the meterologists. To the general public, it can't be. Singapore has been suffering from floods for the past few years now, and even prime shopping areas and tourist attractions like Orchard Road are getting hit. This is NOT the first time in recent memory that Orchard Road is getting hit".

The two following unnamed blog readers posted comments (italic) with "holier than thou" vehemence, condemning the relevant authorities for not taking action immediately the flood occurred.  Talk is free; everybody knows.

"We don't care what happened 142 years ago. We don't even care what happened 50 or 30 years ago. Singapore has a flood problem TODAY. And it is your responsibility to fix it. Even if global warming is causing climate change and heavier rains nowadays, it is STILL your responsibility to fix the flood problem".

"You should spend less time worrying about how to protect your public image. And more time actually working to solve the flood problem. You'll probably make more progress that way. And the people of Singapore will appreciate it. So please stop being stupid, and go and do the right thing".

Wow...very "jialat liao" (Singlish translation for "bad already" which is not recommended for Good English) everybody or authorities concerned.  People were personally praying quietly: "Oh God, please stop the heavy rain and the floods in Singapore" "God, please save us our jobs and prevent unkind people sabotage us with words freely in the name of  the United Nation Charter for "freedom of speech".  Amen".


To show the old photos of floods in Singapore in the early days, I  wouldn't be able to post on the blog from my limited personal photo collection or shared resources as freely available today from the Internet, Facebook or Flickr.

Section 2 - Ways Done in the Past

With the generous contributions to the National Archives of Singapore (NAS)  over decades, these archived photos are with credit to NAS with acknowledgement and thanks to enhance the blog with "memory-aids" as a picture is worth a thousand words.

Floods in Singapore over the decades


The spirits of these children were not in the least dampened when heavy rain fell in most parts of Singapore they were having a splashing time outside a shop in Cross Street on 15 November, 1971.



The above old photos of children having fun during the floods in Singapore in the 1970s, about my young age when I was growing up in Bukit Ho Swee kampong.

As mentioned earlier on the blog, here's the reasons why I avoided public discussion with anyone.

I was guilty to comment and blog to express about the flooding situations at Orchard Road as mentioned in Section 1 ("ways done at present") shown above.

"Freedom of speech" for one's mouth is also entitled to an individual's freedom of thoughts..."use my own brain, my feelings".  It doesn't matter if I don't have to blog to express indiscriminately on public matters of my choice.

One's opinion and belief is inborn in one's own character, not to please a crowd to follow anyone, shouting funny, empty catchy slogans to become a "third world parliament" or something like that.  I am not interested.

When my Hougang friends told me that the phrase "No comments" was often heard some months ago there as reported in the newspapers, I remember the famous quotation by Winston Churchill: "No comment is a splendid expression. I am using it again and again".

There's a very useful Cantonese phrase I learnt from watching Cantonese drama movies when I was young..."if you don't open your mouth, people wouldn't say that you are dumb". 

These guys did not know with empathy about my childhood experiences, my mood and memories of the moment during the flood in Singapore this year. Why waste time to argue with them as to which is right or wrong over Nature's Ways about the climate or weather?

In a way, I was suffering from guilty conscience with nostalgic childhood memories  about the floods in Singapore.  I recalled the angry adults in those days shouting at us as "naughty kids", "siao kia" (meaning "crazy kids" translated in Hokkien)

While the adults were suffering from the inconveniences of the floods and business, I was one of those "naughty kids" playing the fool (without the knowledge of our parents, of course).

As fool-hardy young kids , we were also not aware of the danger of getting drowned during the floods.

Fortunately, we survived through those foolish days of dangerous and hazardous times of growing up.  We had fun, and no time for complaints...because free fun in the floods during the monsoon seasons to enjoy with my Bukit Ho Swee urchin buddies wasn't offered to us everyday, it may not flood after every heavy rainfall.

We did not let our parents know that and kept our little games to ourselves.

We did not consider what had happened if our parents' friends or neighbors  recognised us to complain about our crazy funtime behaviours.

My late mother was not aware about this until she passed away.

"Please forgive me, Mother. I was too young and innocent when I was a child", I said a silent prayer to my mother.

What were to happen in those days when neighbors immediately reported via Facebook with iPhone photos, video or something to send them to our parents with good intention?

These hi-tech wireless devices were not available in the 1960s.

If the advanced image technology and online connection were available at that time, our "funtime" activities would then be in trouble with us naughty kids to get scolding and caning then from our parents.

Strange, we were then not the least worried about safety while playing in the floods...just to have fun and forget everything else!

Like those children in these photos, I was just like them when I was about 8 or 9 years old having fun everytime it floods. It was funtime to play with my buddies like a big swimming pool all over the kampong.

Especially at Havelock Road which was converted into "Havelock River" about 50 years ago....similar to "Orchard River" which was commented on the flood at Orchard Road this year.

More scenes of the floods in Singapore in the past. 

Life goes on during the flood at West Coast Road kampong in 1976...breakfast for the family.
Flooded coffee shop at Jalan Eunos in 1978.  Time for a beer...

The villagers at Bedok kampong waiting for the flood to subside  c 1954

The children at Potong Pasir kampong waiting for the flood to subside  c 1954

Trees were uprooted on several roads in the floods



The football field became a "swimming pool?
Outside Whitley Secondary School in 1971
"Have hot coffee at the sarabat stall in the flood..."
Business as usual to serve customers in the flood...
Some still use umbrellas to keep their heads dry in a flood...
The police patrol car on duty in action during a flood...
At the five-footway to chitchat until the flood subsides...

The barber shop still waiting for customers...their legs were in the water, not their heads  ; )

All hands on deck working together to keep safe without sinking ...
Schools are not closed because of the floods, education is more important

Floods at New Citizen Public Primary School in Jalan Eunos despite the floods, students were told to carry on with their lessons at interval time, the swirling waters reached halfway up to the pupils' knees but that did not stop them from wading to their tuckshop for their snacks. Description Edited by NAS. Date: 20/09/1974


The school field and canteen at the old building of Outram Secondary School at Outram Road in the 1960s during the floods.  The nostalgic schooldays memories and experiences when I was attending at this school.  Classes went on as usual...recess time went on as usual...for the students and the hawkers stood on wooden benches for everyone until the flood subside...


For this last part of the blog, I had taken some photos a few days ago of certain parts of Orchard Road in Singapore which were affected by the recent floods and places with newspaper headlines.

Several shops with their businesses located in these areas are anxious to have preventive measures to be taken by immediate action at Orchard Road, "the shopping goldmine at this tourist belt for businessmen".

There are few places on Earth where people need not be concerned about flooding. Any place where rain falls is vulnerable, although rain is not the only impetus for flood.

Most floods take hours or even days to develop, giving residents ample time to prepare or evacuate. Others generate quickly and with little warning. These flash floods can be extremely dangerous, instantly turning a babbling brook into a thundering wall of water and sweeping everything in its path downstream.

It is common in Singapore to experience floods caused by the Sumatran Monsoon every year during these periods affecting low-lying areas and some of the unlikeliest high grounds were submerged in swirling flood waters.  Our neighboring countries in South-East Asia such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and others in the path of the monsoon seasons based on geography and climate reasons.

In "The Climate Change Debate: Man Versus Nature" by Anuradha K. Herath for "Astrobiology Magazine" on October 7, 2011 at Moffett Field, California, USA.

As is usually the case, this writer oversimplifies the situation by making it seem as if there are only possible positions to be taken:  (1) total alarmism on the one hand, or on the other hand (2) total denial of anthropogenic global warming (“AGW”).  Heavy academic stuff...

Whilst the debate is on-going among the scientists and  experts to seek solutions for Man versus Nature to change the climate,  practical actions have to be taken about the floods at Orchard Road and other flood-prone areas in Singapore.

Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew was often quoted on different occasions that "necessary actions and justice should not only be done, but should and be seen to be done".

Most people quipped:  Mr Lee Kuan Yew founded a "Peoples Action Party" with actions for the peoples, not a "No Action Talk Only" (NATO) party - the proper acronym for "North Atlantic Treaty Organization" (NATO).

Section 3 - Ways to be expected in the future

Walk down or drive past Orchard Road now,  the actions taken with regards to the flood are seen to be done at Orchard Road.

Business as usual at Orchard Road, the "Happening Street of Singapore" and still as crowded with "Great Singapore Sales" attractions for tourists, visitors and "buy until drop" Singaporeans who would never miss an opportunity for the best bargains for shopping.  Just ignore the blocked up construction areas in certain parts of Orchard Road where work and construction in progress as scheduled on the posters and banners displayed on the walls.

When I visited Edmonton, Canada several years ago, my friend who lived there invited me to visit him again during Christmas.  All the shops there will have "Boxing Day" once a year when "real" sales are held for discount of 50% to 70% in the country.  He asked me to bring lots of money for shopping...but I never had the chance to pick up that offer because "money not enough" to travel so far for a sales for one day's shopping only.

Happy shopping in Singapore for one month for the "Great Singapore Sales" (GSS).  Tourists and visitors to Singapore also learn our shopping culture for good bargains to "shop until we drop" ; )

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2 Comments:

Blogger dashing hongeng said...

Singapore is very fortunate to have only floods as a natural disaster. That is nothing as compared to other countries that experience tsunami, typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions etc.

When I was young I have gone through floods, fires, thunder and lightnings, etc. Visit my blog for more details.
wwwyeohongeng.blogspot - Our Battle with the Elements.

July 2, 2012 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger nofloods said...

Singapore is such a lovely place. Good thing, the people only suffered lesser damage than the ones experienced by Thailand. However, its never easy to be the victims of floods.

July 27, 2012 at 12:50 PM  

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