Our thoughts: Yes, we heard it and saw it from our TV screen. Every now and then, during prime time hours, a clip of the upcoming transformation of Jurong will be shown as part of our dose of advertisement. Hence, some of the future developments mentioned in the article may not be new to our eyes and ears.
But its good to understand the past in order to appreciate and look forward to the future. Cheers!
We feel that this article brings back the old images of Jurong, instead of summing up in 3 points, you should take a few minutes to enjoy reading it.
For the full article from ChannelNewsAsia here
Jurong is being primed for a major revamp that could make it the place to be – a big turnaround from less than half a century ago, when all was quiet on the western front.
In its previous incarnation, Jurong was a swampy area, with jungle and small fishing villages. Mr Zaman Kadir, 76, has been a Jurong resident for 42 years. “When I was in the army, we used to come around to this area. People reared chicken, and bred fish and prawns. To cross the roads, we had to pay 30 cents to cross in a sampan,” he recalls.
Dr Goh Keng Swee, one of Singapore’s founding fathers, made the decision to develop Jurong. It became Singapore’s first industrial estate, and played a key role in the industrialisation of the economy in the 1960s. Investors were encouraged to set up factories here, receiving pioneer certificates that gave them tax exemptions and protective status for their goods.
But getting workers to work in Jurong was a problem. The lack of infrastructure meant that companies had to pay workers extra to commute. So the Government decided to build housing estates in Jurong. That was how Mr Zaman came to live in Jurong – he shifted to company quarters here when he left the army to work for a Jurong factory.
Other amenities soon followed, including Singapore’s one and only drive-in theatre. Recalls Madam Tan Peck Siok, 87, who has been living here for 43 years: “When I brought my children to the theatre, I also brought straw mats. We would watch the 9pm show. We went twice a week. The kids would clamour to go, or friends who were visiting would want to. This was the most happening place!”
The Jurong Drive-In shut after 15 years, due to flagging attendance. For many years, Jurong was still considered a less than attractive place to live, due to its lack of amenities. Said Madam Tan: “When I moved here, there was no market. When we wanted to take the bus, we had to walk all the way out to the main road – and there was only one bus there.”
Gradually, things changed – especially after the Jurong Town Corporation was set up. The transformation into an industrial area meant new companies moving in, and many new buildings going up.
Social and recreational facilities, as well as transport links, soon improved. By the 1980s, the Pan-Island Expressway linked the west to the east of Singapore, and the MRT line was extended to Jurong.
Today, the area is no longer a sleepy outback. Said longtime Jurong resident Madam Lim Yoh Tee, 70: “Everything is so convenient now. In the past, heading out to take the bus was so hard. Now, everything is so convenient. Buying things, sending the children to school is convenient. There was nothing in the past.”
Jurong now has shopping malls to rival those on Orchard Road. A huge new hospital hub is coming up, and Jurong’s existing gardens are slated to be transformed into a new lake garden district, complete with waterfront housing. With change in the air once again, Jurong is set to come into its own.