Author Archives: Kenneth Pinto

The Battle of Pasir Panjang Commemorative Walk 2019

Sat 9th Feb 2019 – some 70 members of the public with a special passion for heritage gathered before dawn to commemorate the Battle of Pasir Panjang. Fought through the ridge 77 years ago, it would be the last two days before Singapore fell on 15th Feb 2019.

We traced the steps of the Malay Regiment as they held off the Imperial Japanese Army, and then were forced into a desperate and retreating battle. We began, as they did, at the junction of Ayer Rajah Road and Reformatory Road – what is today Ayer Rajah Expressway and Clementi Road.

We remembered the observations of Penrod Dean before we set off:

The Malays started to fight the Japanese on Reformatory Road,” said Lt. Penrod V. Dean of the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion. “They had dug slit trenches but they didn’t have a lot of weapons. They started fighting the Japanese just with rifles virtually. And when the Japanese broke through them, the Malays took to them with bayonets, they put bayonets on the rifles and with a bayonet charge they drove the Japanese back across Reformatory Road.”

“They were very brave people. They fought very hard, but for every Malay soldier there was about 10 or 12 Japanese soldiers. So it was inevitable what was going to happen.” [link]

After the 7.00am briefing amidst a grove of Gelam trees next to the NUS University Cultural Centre, we made our way up the ridge, onto Kent Ridge Road, past The Gap into Kent Ridge Park and finally Bukit Chandu.

Along the way, we shared stories of the battle, interweaved with the history, geography and biology of the ridge. This year – also the 200th anniversary of modern Singapore’s founding – the recurring theme was a biologist view of human behaviour: from expanding civilisations to colonialism, World War 2 and beyond: the exploitation and manipulation of humanity by a minority of their own kind.

But importantly, we took heart by remembering these men who had been banded together, who faced impossible odds, fought on these grounds beyond the call of king or country, neither for creed nor ethnicity but simply for each other.

We begin the walk amidst the grove of gem trees, at NUS’ University
Cultural Centre, where the Battle of Pasir Panjang began.
A series of markers for the Kent Ridge Heritage Trail pepper the route
and provide highlights about historical points along the way.
Veteran guide, Oi Yee, who walked the ridge in the 1950’s, shares tales about the botany and uses of Simpoh Air and Resam from kampung days.
Following the guides up to point 270 on the maintenance trail.
Sivasothi aka Otterman explain the events leading to the renaming
of the ridge after the Duchess of Kent in 1954, during the Emergency.
Just before Bukit Chandu, the group listens to a heartfelt account about
the last stand of Lt Adnan bin Saidi and his men of The Malay Regiment.
Ever changing landscape: The point blocks at Normanton Park, where the Normanton Oil Depot was located. This will be lost to redevelopment soon.

For more about the heritage of Pasir Panjang, see the webpage and blog.



Ridge Walk – a series of five Friday evening briskwalks along the Southern Ridges

Dear friends,

In 2008, a 9-km series of trails, bridges and walkways were unveiled – these reconnected the Southern Ridges which had been carved through by several roads (see map). An almost continuous traffic-free walk from NUS to HarbourFront became possible and takes two hours at a brisk pace.

This is an excellent way to get in some exercise at the end of a tough week, amidst a unique landscape and greenery. Get to know various points along the Southern Ridges and plan your future visits. But it all starts with a walk and we are hard pressed to find the time.

To get you going, NUS Toddycats, in conjunction with Ridge View Residential College are leading a series of brisk walks for NUS staff, students and friends from YIH Plaza through to HarbourFront MRT on the following dates:

  1. Fri 24 Mar 2017
  2. Fri 28 Apr 2017
  3. Fri 19 May 2017
  4. Fri 30 Jun 2017
  5. Fri 28 Jul 2017

If you struggle to keep up initially, you can peel off at any time. Several popular stop points along the way are:

  1. 2.0km, 22 mins – Science Park 1 (Kent Ridge MRT Station); [route]
  2. 4.0km, 51 mins – Reflections at Bukit Chandu (near Pasir Panjang MRT Station) [route]
  3. 5.3km, 1h 12mins – Alexandra Arch (near Labrador Park MRT Station); [route]
  4. 6.2km, 1h 22mins – Henderson Waves (near Telok Blangah) – Bus Stop no. 14051 & 14059; [route]
  5. 8.8km, 2h 5mins – HarbourFront (near MRT Station); [route]

Your guides frm NUS Toddycats will be Kenneth Pinto, Xu Weiting, Airani S & N. Sivasothi.

If there is threat of heavy rain, strong winds prior to a storm or haze, we will cancel the walk and inform you by email.

Register here!

Screenshot 434

Battle of Pasir Panjang Commemorative Walk 2009 Review

Steely Eyed Warrior
Steely Eyed Warrior

Saturday 14 February, Valentine’s Day & Chinese New Year Eve.

Sunday 15 February, Chinese New Year.

The year was 1942.

Those festive occasions were probably far from most people’s minds as Singapore was on the brink of surrender.

They were most likely the least of the Malay Regiment’s concerns as they fought to hold Pasir Panjang Ridge – the present Kent Ridge.

So, the Pasir Panjang Guides gathered with a 50-strong group of diverse participants to commemorate the battle on 14 Feb – incidentally a Saturday this year.

Continue reading

Battle of Pasir Panjang Commemorative Walk 2009 – Registration open!

Reflections at Bukit Chandu

The Toddycats’ first guided walk of the year is the Battle of Pasir Panjang Commemorative Walk. The Pasir Panjang guides met last weekend to tie down details of our activities this year, as well as planning for the upcoming walk.

Battle of Pasir Panjang Commemorative Walk
Saturday 14 February 2009
7am to 12 noon
Walk begins at University Cultural Centre, NUS and ends at Reflections at Bukit Chandu (end of Kent Ridge Park)

More details at Habitatnews.

Oh, event details on Facebook too!

Register here.

M.I.A. Trail recap (an International Museum Day activity) 31 May 2008

M.I.A. Trail 2008

Two groups of about 40 participants each took part in the third annual M.I.A. Trail. This walk is conducted as part of International Museum Day 2008 celebrations.

The Pasir Panjang Heritage Guides met the participants at Harbourfront Cruise Centre’s bus bay. First stop: Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at NUS, where we introduced Singapore’s flora and fauna as well as the many species and habitats that have gone missing or are close to being wiped out.

We then headed to Kent Ridge Park. Here, we explored the plants of the ridge. One eagle-eyed participant even spotted a snake, which was probably more terrified of us than we were of it. The guides started weaving in stories of the Malay Regiment and the Battle of Pasir Panjang, which served as an introduction to…

Reflections at Bukit Chandu, which is at the end of Kent Ridge Park’s canopy walk. Participants found out about the history of the Malay Regiment and the background about the Japanese invasion of Malaya. This led up to the Battle for Singapore and the Battle of Pasir Panjang, where the Malay Regiment had their final stand.

That was also the last stop of the MIA Trail. It’s always a unique experience for guides and participants alike as this tour takes place at night.

If you missed us this time around, we will be conducting more walks (daytime) when Heritage Fest is on in July.

Our thanks go out to National Heritage Board for their support, National Archives of Singapore for their continuing collaboration with the Pasir Panjang Guides and our wonderful participants who make our efforts all worthwhile!

– N. Sivasothi a.k.a. Otterman

Plants of Pasir Panjang

Back to School! (by Darren)

The Pasir Panjang Heritage Guides – old and new – have started training, in preparation for next year’s walks. First up, as Kiah Shen shows, was a refresher about the plants on Kent Ridge.

We gathered on a cloudy Saturday afternoon for our session with Siva and Cheng Puay. The lesson plan was simultaneously impressive and daunting, especially for those who lacked a firm grounding in Biology.

1. Introduction

  • common descriptive terms – shrub, tree, herb etc.
  • binomial nomenclature, scientific names, common names
  • botanical drawing versus nature notebook

2. Plant collection – common ridge species behind Lab 7

  • coarse description of plant in situ
  • annotated notes

3. Plant drawing

  • comparing against plant descriptions from textbooks and guidesheets
  • highlighting features of significance
  • comparing similarities and differences

4. Group presentations

  • interesting highlights about Kent Ridge plants

Cheng Puay, our Botany expert, kicked off the session with a quick introduction to the world of fauna. We were then assigned various plants to study. Each of us had to do a sketch on the spot with detailed descriptions, then bring back the respective plants for more detailed botanical drawings.

This is the first time some of the guides have had to examine plants in minute detail!

Some had impressive annotated nature notebook drawings.

Others showed their artistic ability with detailed botanical drawings.

And all of us had an enjoyable time learning about these plants of Pasir Panjang.

You can view our handiwork here! (Thanks to Darren for the photos.)

Back to School! (by Darren)