Reflections of Mr Yatiman

by Wisma Geylang Serai on Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wisma Geylang Serai


Geylang Serai remains close to my heart since I first visited it via an STC (Singapore Traction Company) electric-powered bus in the 50s with my late father. It became part of me when I moved into a Jalan Pasar Baru flat in the 70s. It was an exciting and thriving hub in Singapore. Taj Cinema, which was later redeveloped as Singapura Cinema, the old Joo Chiat Market which was later relocated to Geylang Serai Market, Galaxy Cinema, the two-storey Hawa Restaurant and a number of coffee shops where the residents would gather to chat over cups of coffee, remain indelible in my mind. 

There also used to be a Chinese coffee shop below Block 1, nicknamed “Liverpool Square.” Musicians, artistes and fans gathered there after sunset to enjoy the chicken rice and Hong Kong noodles. I also remember being a member of the sepak takraw team called Sri Geylang, led by the late Wak Radin Ismail. By 5.00 pm we would set up the court at the car park and played till the call for prayer from Aminah Mosque reminded us of our religious duties. Among those in the team are former Singapore sepak takraw players, Ramli Ismail and Said Yusof.  Said later became the Singapore coach. 

Since then, the area has gone through many changes with more to come. One exciting development for the area is the civic centre. A naming competition was held late last year, which saw about 380 creative entries attempting to name the civic centre. And, we received all kinds of entries! Amazingly, we even received the exact same names from people of different backgrounds too! As chairman of the panel that shortlisted the 10 entries for public voting, I first must thank all the participants who took part in the competition. 

The process of reading all the entries was a very heartening experience for us, because each name revealed a genuine connection and sentiment he/she has for the Geylang Serai area. With only 10 top slots for the public voting, the panel had a really hard time short-listing them. Throughout the shortlisting process, we made sure that three essential criteria were given priority; that is the name must have Relevance to the Malay Heritage, Reflect the Nature & Flavour of the civic centre & of course must be Original and Creative. 

So we started by taking out entries that did not meet the three basic criteria. Other entries had to be removed because they were too similar to existing buildings/street names, too long, too short, or too complex etc. 

The shortlisting process was efficient, engaging and precise. After scrutinising all the top 10 entries to ensure they deserve their placing, they are now up for public voting online. You can read them at the voting website

If you notice, all 10 entries share some common ground – they have a tinge of the Malay language that serves to retain the Malay flavour and heritage of the Geylang Serai area. Each of the 10 names comes with a good backgrounder and explanation to support it showing that some thought had gone into it. The selection panel strongly believes that these 10 names can accurately portray and represent the upcoming Geylang Serai Civic Centre. 

The panel has done its part to shortlist the 10 names. I now urge you to do your part to tell us which name is best suited for the civic centre. I sincerely encourage and hope that everyone, especially those who have fond memories of Geylang Serai, to be part of this exercise to name the civic centre. 

This is just the beginning. Greater and more exciting things are awaiting Geylang Serai. 

Terima Kasih.



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