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 bitterly 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 a popular lifestyle destination for families, fitness and mountain-biking enthusiasts, bird watchers, picnickers, joggers, photographers and students on excursions.10
Being a ridge, the main characteristic of Kent Ridge Park is its 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, with pitcher plants and wild orchids growing alongside it.12 Cycling tracks, jogging paths and a fitness area comprising 20 different exercise stations can also be found within the park.13
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.14 As part of the 2002 Urban Redevelopment Authority plan, Kent Ridge Park is now connected with Mount Faber and Telok Blangah Hill parks via the Southern Ridges, a 10-kilometre expanse of greenery.15 There is a natural pond swarming with turtles and fish on the eastern side of the park.16
Flora and fauna
Natural vegetation thrives at Kent Ridge Park, which has been carefully designed to preserve its air of peacefulness and tranquillity. The park is composed of secondary forest on degraded soil, where trees such as tembusu, saga, rubber, wild cinnamon and angsana grow. Plants like wattle, the Singapore rhododendron and three native species of pitcher plants can also be found in the park.17
Besides sunbirds and doves, birds that can be spotted at Kent Ridge Park include the collared kingfisher, banded woodpecker and the white-crested laughing thrush. Other creatures like squirrels and fruit bats can also be easily sighted.18
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.
October 2003: Canopy Walk, installed by the National Parks Board, is completed.
1. Zhao, J., Cai, J. G., & Ashraf M. Hefny. (2001). Creation of the underground science city in rock caverns below the Kent Ridge Park in Singapore. Singapore: Nanyang Technological University, p. 13. (Call no.: RSING q624.19095957 ZHA)
2. Thangamma, K. (Ed.). (2006). Discover Singapore: Heritage trails. Singapore: National Heritage Board, p. 144. (Call no.: RSING 915.95704 DIS)
3. Thangamma, K. (Ed.). (2006). Discover Singapore: Heritage trails. Singapore: National Heritage Board, p. 142. (Call no.: RSING 915.95704 DIS)
4. Forgotten fortress. (1962, January 10). The Singapore Free Press, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Yap, S. Y., et al. (2004). Fortress Singapore: The battlefield guide (4th ed.). Singapore: Marshall Cavendish International (Asia), pp. 64–67. (Call no.: RSING 959.5703 FOR [HIS])
6. Lim K. T. (1999). The Malay Regiment – ‘Ta’at dan setia’: 1933–1945. Retrieved 2016, March 15 from Habitatnews website: http://habitatnews.nus.edu.sg/heritage/pasirpanjang/articles/the_malay_regiment-lim_kay_tong1999.html
7. Kent Ridge honours those who died in WWII. (1995, June 11). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Wan, G. (2008, August 30). Exploring scenic beauty of Southern Ridges. Cyberpioneer. Retrieved 2016, March 15 from Ministry of Defence website: http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/resourcelibrary/cyberpioneer/topics/articles/lifestyle/2008/aug08_lifestyle.html#.Vtzv7_mqpBc
9. Ministry of Informations, Communications and the Arts. (2002, February 15). Speech by Dr Tony Tan Ken Yam, deputy prime minister and minister for defence, at the opening of Reflections at Bukit Chandu – A World War II interpretative centre held on Friday, 15 February 2002 at 7.30 pm. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline
10. National Parks Board. (2016, March 17). Kent Ridge Park. Retrieved 2016, March 15 from National Parks Board website: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/parks-and-nature-reserves/kent-ridge-park
11. National Parks Board. (2016, March 17). Kent Ridge Park. Retrieved 2016, March 15 from National Parks Board website: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/parks-and-nature-reserves/kent-ridge-park
12. Auger, T. (2013). Living in a garden: The greening of Singapore. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, p. 148. (Call no.: RSING 363.68095957 AUG)
13. National Parks Board. (2016, March 17). Kent Ridge Park. Retrieved 2016, March 15 from National Parks Board website: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/parks-and-nature-reserves/kent-ridge-park
14. Humphreys, N. (2007). Complete notes from Singapore: The omnibus edition. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, pp. 57–58. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 HUM)
15. Liaw, W.-C. (2008, May 15). From garden to creek to harbour all in just 2km. The Straits Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; National Parks Board. (2015, May 21). The Southern Ridges. Retrieved 2016, May 30 from National Parks Board website: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/parks-and-nature-reserves/the-southern-ridges
16. National Parks Board. (2016, March 17). Kent Ridge Park. Retrieved 2016, March 15 from National Parks Board website: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/parks-and-nature-reserves/kent-ridge-park
17. Seah, B. (2004, September 5). A guide to the plant life of Kent Ridge. Retrieved 2016, March 15 from Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research website: http://pasirpanjang.rafflesmuseum.net/
18. Thangamma, K. (Ed.). (2006). Discover Singapore: Heritage trails. Singapore: National Heritage Board, pp. 146–153. (Call no.: RSING 915.95704 DIS)
Lee, S.K., & Chua S. E. (1992). More than a garden city. Singapore: Parks & Recreation Department, Ministry of National Development.
(Call no.: RSING 333.783 LEE)
National Archives of Singapore. (2002). Reflections at Bukit Chandu: Building on memories/ A heritage project by National Archives [Videorecording]. Singapore : National Archives of Singapore.
(Call no.: RSING 940.547252 REF-[WAR])
The information in this article is valid as at 2009 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.