Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC Mohd Fahmi Aliman shares three things unique about Geylang Serai – one of Singapore’s oldest communities.
#1: An enclave rich in local heritage
Geylang, within Geylang Serai division, is known as Singapore’s infamous red-light district. But do you know that the area has a rich culture and heritage?
Former Queen’s Theatre
In the early days, many Singaporeans loved to watch movies. Located at 511 Guillemard Road, the Queen’s Theatre opened from 1930 to 1982 and showed films from Singapore-Malaysia, Indonesia, and even Egypt for as low as $1. Today, it forms part of Grandlink Square, but the façade of the old theatre can be admired from Lorong 44.
Pre-war shop houses
You can find beautifully conserved pre-war shophouses hidden away in some of the lorongs in Geylang such as Lorong 24A, Lorong 26 and Lorong 19.
Oldest Chinese temple in Singapore
Located at Lorong 29 Geylang, Soon Thian Kheng is the oldest Chinese temple in Singapore and was established during the reign of Qing Dynasty’s Emperor Jiaqing (1796 – 1821).
You can find Khadijah Mosque, built in 1920, along Geylang Road and Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace, built in 1950s, along Sandy Lane. There are also over 120 clans, associations and organisations in Geylang Serai, making it a true multi-cultural tapestry.
Since late 2019, the Geylang Serai Heritage Group has been organising the Geylang Serai Heritage Trail – three free guided tours which showcase the variety and diversity of Geylang Serai.
Fahmi shared that the tours have been very popular but have been suspended due to COVID-19 pandemic. His team plans to come up with a virtual Geylang Serai heritage tour that uses Augmented Reality technology. He is also reaching out to the religious organisations in the area, so their youth volunteers can share more with visitors.
He encouraged Singaporeans to explore Geylang Serai since they cannot travel overseas due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “You can spend half a day walking the heritage trail and enjoying the different food in Geylang. You will discover that Geylang Serai is bustling with activities and culture,” he added.
By the way, there are lights and police cameras along the back lanes from Lorong 22 to Lorong 40 Geylang, so you can feel safe visiting at night too. Residents welcomed this initiative by former MP of Marine Parade GRC Dr Fatimah Lateef.
#2: Running or cycling to the city
Most of the residents in Geylang Serai know that there is a tranquil part of Geylang by the river – ABC Waters @ Geylang River.
Geylang River, one of Singapore’s oldest rivers, was given a new lease of life six years ago under the Public Utilities Board’s Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters Programme.
Residents can jog or cycle through Geylang Park Connector which runs along Geylang River and continue along Tanjong Rhu Promenade before reaching Gardens by the Bay and the city centre.
Fahmi, also an avid runner, hopes to promote healthy living among his residents, one of the three key pillars that he is focusing on. The other two are caring community and lifelong learning.
He has plans to build a running track circumventing the housing estates at Eunos Crescent View and Eunos Court. The track, approximately 2.1 kilometres long, will have water points and lighting along the way.
#3: Wisma Geylang Serai – A social and cultural hub
Interested in finding out more about Malay heritage and community?
You can visit the Malay heritage gallery at Wisma Geylang Serai (WGS), Singapore’s first-ever cultural heritage integrated hub. Opened in mid-2018, WGS houses the Geylang Serai Community Club, family service centre, a senior care centre and other facilities.
Fahmi revealed that he has plans to promote more cultural activities at the hub, such as traditional music and dance.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many activities were suspended at the community club. But the staff promptly set up a virtual community club to conduct online classes and performances for residents, which has attracted seven million views.
Fahmi also shared that a sports arena named Anjung will be built here by next year to cater to residents’ needs for healthy living.