Saturday, July 9, 2011

Who was Chia Eng Say?

Strange, but lately small coincidences seem to keep popping up in sequence for me.
Somehow they all seem to be adding up to....... I don't know !
Maybe I am dreaming Inception or I gotta stop reading Sophie's World...

It all started with the KTM railway closure. (click on link to go there)
Visiting the Rail Mall led me to Fuyong Estate and to Jalan Asas.
This then led me onwards to the old shortcut to the Singapore Quarry Park.
At the quarry park there is a plaque that reads "....Chia Eng Say..."?

The plaque at the Singapore Quarry Park.
Click to read the Ode mentioning Chia Eng Say.
Then just last night, I chanced upon a blog by a Kevin Lee mentioning a disused 'nameless' road running by Rail Mall train tracks. He wondered why it was there.

Wow, just what are all these significances ???
It has finally come full circle for me and the common link to them all is Chia Eng Say!

The mysterious 'nameless' road Kevin Lee mentioned in his own blog is the now disused, disconnected and abandoned Chia Eng Say Road that joins to Upper Bukit Timah Road.
This road led directly to, and was exclusively used by, the old Singapore Quarry !

There!  See how it all ties up?

The original Chia Eng Say Road ran beside the railway truss bridge.
Now abandoned and covered with detritus.
Chia Eng Say Road was a private road built by the quarry company for access to their quarrying operations. I recalled trucks with their load of huge granite rocks rumbling along the road, off to some construction site somewhere in developing Singapore.

The road ran through a Chinese kampong known to us 'locals' as Kampong Chia Eng Say.
The kampong has been demolished and the homesteaders have been resettled in HDB housing, I presume. How sad.

Two of my old schoolmates used to live in that kampong, Quek Chee Ling and Wong Bee Leng. Alas, I've completely lost contact with them after our school days ended.
I can recall visiting them often at the kampong, especially during the times when the Chinese wayangs played during some religious celebrations.

A footbridge ran from Chia Eng Say Road over the KTM railway line.
This gave the kampong folks and quarry workers an access to Upper Bukit Timah Road.
The cul de sac at Jalan Asas. The playground stands where the old kampong was.
The secret shortcut to the quarry at the end of the cul de sac.
The man, Mr Chia Eng Say, must surely be connected to the Singapore Quarry somehow.
In what manner I do not know. I only know that after the government closed the quarry, the entire place was abandoned and the road became derelict.

The only references I managed to dig out on Chia Eng Say was that he was what we would call an entrepreneur today. A multi millionaire contractor from Fujian, China, who established businesses in Penang and Singapore in the early 1900s. He apparently lived in Katong with his large progeny, believed to be 7 sons and 15 daughters in all!

However, Chia Eng Say's legacy still lives on.
Besides being mentioned in the ode on the plaque, his name is now firmly entrenched nearby.
When Rail Mall was re-developed, the little access path in front of the shops was widened to a 2-lane road and the name Chia Eng Say Road was transferred to this upgraded stretch.

The road in front of Rail Mall is now renamed after Chia Eng Say.

 So with this little bit of local history explained, I can now close my circle and return to the real world!

Can Tom Cruise kick me back from his dreams now?
or would that be Jostein Gaarder who has to write me out of his novel?

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