Nee Soon Road



Nee Soon Road runs between Sembawang Road and Springleaf Road.1 The road was named after a prominent rubber planter and merchant, Lim Nee Soon, in 1950.

History
Lim Nee Soon (b. 12 November 1879, Singapore–d. 20 March 1936, Shanghai, China) was a prominent businessman who owned several estates.2 He was a pioneer in rubber cultivation, had a large business in the pineapple industry and was a founder of the Overseas Assurance Corporation (OAC) and Overseas Chinese Bank (which later merged with Chinese Commercial Bank and Ho Hong Bank to form the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation).3 Lim was also active in public affairs, being a founder of the Chinese High School, and serving as a Justice of the Peace and member of the Rural Board from 1913 to 1921.4


Lim owned land in the area around Nee Soon Road.5 At that time, there were many zinc houses along the street which served as residential units as well as shophouses. In 1950, the road was officially named after him by the Rural Board to make postal services easier.6

Many roads in the vicinity of Nee Soon Road are named after Lim or his family members.7 However, instead of the name Nee Soon, its hanyu pinyin version, Yishun, is the more commonly used version nowadays. A statue of Lim graces the Yishun Town Park.8

Description
In the past, there were religious buildings and schools along Nee Soon Road. One of them was the Ti Kong Toa (Tian Gong Tan), one of the oldest temples in the Nee Soon, or Yishun district. Another was the Feng Xian Dong Temple, which was built at the end of Nee Soon Road in 1956. The Seletar School, established by Lee Geok Lin within the premises of the Lee Rubber Factory in 1937, moved to its own building at the end of Nee Soon Road after the war. Another English school was set up in 1954 along this stretch of road, called the Nee Soon School.9 These establishments, however, are no longer present on the road today.

Nee Soon Road runs through secondary forest vegetation, and both its ends, on Sembawang Road and Springleaf Avenue respectively, are used for residential purposes. Springleaf Avenue is where the Springleaf private estate is located.10

The stretch of Nee Soon Road from Sembawang Road onwards, until it crosses the Sungei Seletar reservoir stream, is dominated by green landscape on both sides. This area is frequented by those who like birdwatching and fishing. In 2002, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) decided to develop this area into a public park with cycling or running trails. This was met with mixed responses from the area’s residents. Many preferred retaining the natural charm of this unassuming rural road.11 In the same year, the URA developed plans to realign the road through a new park near Sungei Seletar.12 However, these plans were shelved in 2003 due to environmental concerns.13

Nee Soon Road today is a rare place in Singapore where one could see yellow parrots and owls. The Nee Soon Swamp Forest, located at the southeastern side of Seletar Reservoir, is the only substantial primary freshwater swamp forest left on Singapore island.14

In 2014, the first of four new nature parks around the Central Catchment Area, known as Springleaf Nature Park, was opened to the public. Bounded by Nee Soon Road and Upper Thomson Road, the six-hectare park was once part of a kampong called Chan Chu Kang Village.15



Author

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja



References
 
1. Singapore Street Directory. (n.d.). Nee Soon Road. Retrieved 2016, September 9 from Singapore Street Directory website: http://www.streetdirectory.com/sg/nee-soon-road/20332_1.html
2. Suryadinata, L. (Ed.). (2012). Southeast Asian personalities of Chinese descent: A biographical dictionary. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, pp. 649–651. (Call no.: RSING 959.004951SOU); Death. (1936, March 23). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Lee, K. L. (1997, December 12). Forget Yishun, just remember Nee Soon. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Oral History Department. (1987). A pictorial history of Nee Soon community. Singapore: The grassroots organisations of Nee Soon Constituency, National Archives, Oral History Department, pp. 26, 122. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 PIC); Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 267. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV)
5. Suryadinata, L. (Ed.). (2012). Southeast Asian personalities of Chinese descent: A biographical dictionary. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, p. 650. (Call no.: RSING 959.004951SOU); Tan, B. H. (1987, November 24). Man behind old Nee Soon village. The Straits Times, p. 6; Goh, M. Y. (2008, May 30). Up in the north. The Straits Times, p. 109. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Oral History Department. (1987). A pictorial history of Nee Soon community. Singapore: The grassroots organisations of Nee Soon Constituency, National Archives, Oral History Department, p. 41. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 PIC)
7. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 267. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV)
8. Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Publications, p. 221. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN)
9. Oral History Department. (1987). A pictorial history of Nee Soon community. Singapore: The grassroots organisations of Nee Soon Constituency, National Archives, Oral History Department, pp. 54–55, 93, 100. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 PIC)
10. Singapore Street Directory. Nee Soon Road. Retrieved 2016, September 9 from Singapore Street Directory website: http://www.streetdirectory.com/sg/nee-soon-road/20332_1.html; Get to know the new Springleaf Nature Park that opened on Nov 1. (2014, November 1). The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
11. Neo, H. M. (2002, August 31). Park vs reserve: The verdict is still out. The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Urban villages to gain more charm. (2002, August 2). The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Residents say ‘no’ to spas and yoga studios in Springleaf. (2003, January 23). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum. (n.d.). Nee Soon Swamp Forest. The DNA of Singapore. Retrieved 2016, September 9 from Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum website: http://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/dna/places/details/13
15. New nature park at Nee Soon Road and Upper Thomson Road opens. (2014, November 2). The New Paper. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Singapore Street Directory. (n.d.).  Nee Soon Road. Retrieved 2016, September 9 from Singapore Street Directory website: http://www.streetdirectory.com/sg/nee-soon-road/20332_1.html; Get to know the new Springleaf Nature Park that opened on Nov 1. (2014, November 1). The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/




The information in this article is valid as at 2003 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Street names--Singapore
Law and government>>National development>>Urban development
Arts>>Architecture>>Residential buildings
Urbanization--Singapore
Streets and Places
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings