Bedok is an estate within Singapore’s East Region. It is bounded by the Siglap Canal, Marine Parade Road, Still Road, Jalan Eunos, Eunos Link and Airport Road to the west; the Paya Lebar Airport boundary to the north; and Bedok Canal to the east. Bedok sounds like the Malay word for “drum” – a possible reference to its use at the mosque to announce prayer time to the faithful.1

Covering a total area of approximately 2,157 ha, Bedok comprises eight sub-zones, namely Kaki Bukit, Bedok Reservoir, Kembangan, Bedok North, Frankel, Bedok South, Siglap and Bayshore. Constant upgrading and rejuvenation since the 1970s have transformed Bedok into a bustling town.2

Bedok is derived from the Malay word for “drum”, which is spelt bedoh with the “h” pronounced like “k”.3 The drum was used in “pre-loudspeaker days” at the mosque to sound out a call to Muslims for prayer time, and to convey to nearby villagers important announcements or messages.4 Bedok could also refer to small fishing boats, called biduk, which used to be found along the coastline.5

Bedok occupies the area designated as Mukim 27. The area was originally known as Tanah Merah Kecil.6 The reference to Bedok River as sune bodo (Sungei Bedok), in de Eredia’s 1604 Map of Singapore, suggests Bedok to be an old place name. The first comprehensive map of Singapore, completed by Franklin and Jackson during the time of Sir Stamford Raffles, also indicates the presence of a river, Sungei Badok, “around the small red cliff”.7 On the outskirts of Bedok, at Jalan Sempadan, is a cemetery where Rhio and Bornean peoples who had settled in the district were buried in pre-Raffles days.8

Under the East Coast Reclamation Scheme Phase 1, part of Bedok was reclaimed in 1966.9 Bedok was also part of the massive development of East Coast announced in August 1971.10 By March 1976, the Housing and Development Board had built 4,600 units of flats in the area.11

By 1994, when the Bedok Development Guide Plan was announced, Bedok was already a popular and established residential area with many leisure facilities. Under this plan, another 16,500 housing units were scheduled to be built to cater to Bedok’s population growth.12

Under the Draft Master Plan 2013 for Bedok, the estate will be revitalised with a new hawker centre and town plaza, as well as an integrated complex comprising a community club, sports facilities, a library and a polyclinic.13 A population trends report, released by the Department of Statistics, revealed Bedok as having the largest number of residents at 294,100, as at 2013.14


Vernon Cornelius-Takahama

1. Urban Redevelopment Authority (Singapore), Bedok Planning Area: Planning Report (Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority, 1994), 5, 8. (Call no. RSING 711.4095957 SIN) 
2. Urban Redevelopment Authority (Singapore), Bedok Planning Area, 5, 7; Teo Wan Gek, “Exciting Changes for Bedok, Promises Jaya,” Straits Times, 24 December 2010, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
3. S. Ramachandra, Singapore Landmarks, Past and Present (Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 1961), 5. (Call no. RCLOS 959.57 RAM)
4. Urban Redevelopment Authority (Singapore), Bedok Planning Area, 8; Hadijah Rahmat, Kilat Senja: Sejarah Sosial dan Budaya Kampung-Kampung di Singapura (Singapore: HS Yang Publishing, 2005), 133. (Call no. Malay RSING 959.57 HAD)
5. Victor R. Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2013), 34–35. (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
6. Hadijah Rahmat,Kilat Senja, 133.
7. Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 34–35.
8. Urban Redevelopment Authority (Singapore), Bedok Planning Area, 8.
9. Urban Redevelopment Authority (Singapore), Bedok Planning Area, 8.
10. William Campbell, “Where 100,000 Will Live and Play on Reclaimed East Coast,” Straits Times, 8 August 1971, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
11. Lulin Reutens, “Bedok: The Birth of a New Town,” New Nation, 6 July 1976, 10–11. (From NewspaperSG)
12. Ann Williams, “Govt to Create Greater Housing Choice with More ‘Prime Districts’,” Straits Times, 31 March 1994, 3 (From NewspaperSG); Urban Redevelopment Authority (Singapore), Bedok Planning Area, 18.
13. “Draft Master Plan 2013: Bedok,” Urban Redevelopment Authority Singapore, accessed 26 October 2016; “Bedok Residents to Get Healthcare and Sports Facilities under One Roof,” 27 July 2014. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
14. “Over Half of 3.84m S’poreans, PRs in 10 Urban Planning Areas,” Today, 27 September 2013, 2. (From NewspaperSG)

The information in this article is valid as at 2013 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.


Streets and Places