Kent Ridge Park

by Chan, Rachel

Kent Ridge Park is a 47-hectare public park located in southwestern Singapore, on Vigilante Drive off South Buona Vista Road. Situated between the Singapore Science Park and the National University of Singapore, the park honours the duchess and duke of Kent. Bukit Chandu, a hill in the park, was the site of one of the last battles fought by the Malay Regiment against the Japanese Army during World War II.1

Kent Ridge Park was initially a lowland evergreen forest. Settlers in the early 19th century planted crops like rubber, pepper, gambier and pineapple on it, but many of the plantations were either destroyed or abandoned during the Japanese Occupation (1942–45).2

Formerly known as Pasir Panjang Park, it was renamed Kent Ridge Park in honour of the duchess of Kent and her son, the duke of Kent, who visited the ridge in 1952. On 3 October 1952, the park was renamed Kent Ridge Park, and a plaque commemorating their visit was erected at the junction of Kent Ridge Road and South Buona Vista Road.3

During World War II, the British army used Kent Ridge Park as a fortress to defend Singapore against the Japanese invasion in February 1942. It was an area of strategic importance to the British, being a gateway to the northern sector of Singapore with access to the Alexandra area, where military installations, the main ammunition armoury and the British Military Hospital (today’s Alexandra Hospital) were located.4

Bukit Chandu (“Opium Hill” in Malay) was the site of the fierce 48-hour battle between the Japanese 18th Division and Charlie Company (C Coy), a 42-man platoon from the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Malay Regiment, led by 2nd Lieutenant Adnan Saidi. On 13 February 1942, the Japanese focused their attack on the southern coastal area of Singapore, particularly Pasir Panjang Ridge, battering it with heavy mortar, artillery fire and aerial support.5

The Malay Regiment put up a strong resistance against the Japanese attack, hampering their advance and pressuring them to retreat for the night. In the afternoon of 14 February, however, the Malay Regiment was defeated, following a strong reprisal by the Japanese despite having put up a spirited and courageous defence.6

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, the National Heritage Board erected a plaque at Carpark B of the park in June 1995 and marked the site as one of 11 World War II locations in Singapore.7 The Ministry of Defence also placed two sets of M114 Howitzer guns and a set of AMX-134 Light Tanks on permanent display at the park, as it adopted the park as the Army Green Park.8

In February 2002, Reflections at Bukit Chandu, a World War II interpretative centre, opened in Kent Ridge Park to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of the Malay Regiment in defending Singapore.9

With a variety of historical and natural attractions, Kent Ridge Park is popular among families, fitness and mountain-biking enthusiasts, bird watchers, picnickers, photographers and students on excursions.10

Being a ridge, Kent Ridge Park has several lookout points. The park’s highest point is Carpark B, which is 61 m above sea level and provides panoramic views of West Coast Park, Pulau Buran Darat, Pulau Bukom and some southern offshore islands.11

A nature trail is situated near Carpark A.12 Cycling tracks, jogging paths and a fitness area with exercise stations can also be found within the park.13

The 3.5-kilometre mountain bike trail at Kent Ridge Park is considered one of the most technical trails in Singapore, with a 300-metre downhill stretch that has sharp S-shaped turns.14 This was the site of some mountain bike competitions, including the inaugural Red Bull Dark Knights night downhill race in 2011.15 The Kent Ridge trail was closed in December 2015 due to a landslide, after which it was reopened in 2017.16

A 280-metre-long canopy walk completed in October 2003 at a cost of S$1.3 million links the northeastern section of the park to Reflections at Bukit Chandu. Nature lovers can enjoy the vegetation and biodiversity of wildlife along the canopy walk.17 On the eastern side of the park is a natural pond with turtles and fish.18

As part of the 2002 Urban Redevelopment Authority plan, Kent Ridge Park is connected with Mount Faber and Telok Blangah Hill parks via the Southern Ridges, a 10-kilometre expanse of greenery.19 In 2010, in recognition of the Southern Ridges, the Urban Redevelopment Authority was awarded the Urban Land Institute Award for Excellence: Asia Pacific, as well as the Global Award for Excellence.20

Flora and fauna
Natural vegetation thrives at Kent Ridge Park, which has been carefully designed to preserve its tranquility. The park is composed of secondary forest on degraded soil, where trees such as tembusu, acacia, simpoh air, saga, rubber, wild cinnamon and angsana grow. Plants like wattle, the Singapore rhododendron and three native species of pitcher plants (Nepenthes ampullaria, Nepenthes gracilis and Nepenthes rafflesiana) can also be found in the park.21

Besides sunbirds and doves, birds such as the collared kingfisher, banded woodpecker and the white-crested laughing thrush can be spotted at Kent Ridge Park. Other creatures in the park include squirrels and fruit bats.22

13 Feb 1942: Bukit Chandu, a hill in Kent Ridge Park, becomes the centre of a battle between the Malay Regiment and the Japanese Army.
14 Feb 1942: The Japanese Army defeats the Malay Regiment.
3 Oct 1952: Pasir Panjang Park is renamed Kent Ridge Park, after the duchess and duke of Kent.
Jun 1995: National Heritage Board erects a plaque at Carpark B in memory of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, and it is marked as a World War II site in Singapore.
15 Feb 2002: Reflections at Bukit Chandu officially opens to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of the Malay Regiment in defending Singapore.
Oct 2003: Canopy Walk, installed by the National Parks Board, is completed.
Jun 2010: URA is awarded the ULI Award for Excellence: Asia Pacific for the Southern Ridges project
Oct 2010: URA wins the ULI Global Award for Excellence for the Southern Ridges project

Rachel Chan

1. Zhao Jian, Cai Jun Gang and Ashraf M. Hefny, Creation of the Underground Science City in Rock Caverns below the Kent Ridge Park in Singapore (Singapore: Nanyang Technological University, 2001), 13 (Call no. RSING q624.19095957 ZHA); National Heritage Board, Singapore, Discover Singapore Heritage Trails (Singapore: National Heritage Board, 2006), 142. (Call no. RSING 915.95704 DIS)
2. National Heritage Board, Singapore, Discover Singapore, 144.
3. National Heritage Board, Singapore, Discover Singapore, 142.
4. Arthur Richards, “Forgotten Fortress,” Singapore Free Press, 10 January 1962, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
5. Yap Siang Yong et al., Fortress Singapore: The Battlefield Guide, 4th ed (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish International (Asia), 2004), 64–67 (Call no. RSING 959.5703 FOR [HIS]); Haji Mubin Sheppard, “The Fire and Death on ‘Opium Hill’,” Straits Times, 13 February 1967, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
6. Lim Kay Tong, “The Malay Regiment – ‘Ta’at Dan Setia’: 1933–1945,” accessed 7 December 2021.
7. “Kent Ridge Honours Those Who Died in WWII,” Straits Times, 11 June 1995, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
8. G. Wan, “Exploring Scenic Beauty of Southern Ridges,” Pioneer (August 2008), 20–21. (Call no. RSING 355.225 NP)
9. Tony Tan Keng Yam, “The Opening of Reflections at Bukit Chandu – A World War II Interpretative Centre,” speech, 15 February 2002, transcript, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. (From National Archives of Singapore document no. MINDEF_20020215002)
10. “Kent Ridge Park,” National Parks Board, accessed 7 December 2021.
11. National Parks Board, “Kent Ridge Park.”
12. Timothy Auger, Living in a Garden: The Greening of Singapore (Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, 2013), 148. (Call no. RSING 363.68095957 AUG)
13. National Parks Board, “Kent Ridge Park.”
14. Lydia Vasko, “Rough Rides,” Straits Times, 22 March 2013, 4–5. (From NewspaperSG)
15. “Yang Rides to Victory in Elite Race,” Straits Times, 24 July 2006, 14; “Racing in the Moonlight,” New Paper, 24 December 2015, 29. (From NewspaperSG)
16. Danson Cheong, “Kent Ridge Mountain Bike Trail Closed after Landslide,” Straits Times, 24 December 2015, 2 (From NewspaperSG); Jonathan Tan, “On the Ride at Kent Ridge Park’s XC Trail,” accessed 7 December 2021.
17. Neils Humphreys, “Final Notes from a Great Island: A Farewell Tour of Singapore,” in Complete Notes from Singapore: The Omnibus Edition (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2007), 57–58. (Call no. RSING 959.57 HUM)
18. National Parks Board, “Kent Ridge Park.”
19. Liaw Wy-Cin, “From Garden to Creek to Harbour All in Just 2km,” Straits Times, 15 May 2008, 28 (From NewspaperSG); “The Southern Ridges,” National Parks Board, accessed 7 December 2021.
20. Tan Dawn Wei, “Prestigious Award for Southern Ridges Trail,” Straits Times, 27 June 2010, 12; Amresh Gunasingham, “URA Wins Global Prize for Parks Project,” Straits Times, 15 October 2010, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
21. Brandon Seah, “A Guide to the Plants of Kent Ridge,” accessed 26 November 2021; Weng Ngai Lam and Hugh T. W. Tan, eds., “Singapore Species and Hybrids,” in The Pitcher Plants (Nepenthes Species) of Singapore (Singapore: Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, National University of Singapore, 2020), 9.
22. National Heritage Board, Singapore, Discover Singapore, 146–53.

Further resources
Kevin Y.L. Tan, ed., Kent Ridge: An Untold Story (Singapore: Ridge Books, 2019). (Call no. RSING 959.57 KEN-[HIS])

Lee Sing Kong and Chua Sian Eng, More Than a Garden City (Singapore: Parks & Recreation Department, Ministry of National Development, 1992). (Call no. RSING 333.783095957 LEE)

The information in this article is valid as at December 2021 and correct as far as we can 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. 

Historic sites--Singapore
Places of interest
Streets and Places

All Rights Reserved. National Library Board Singapore, 2021.