Yan Kit Road

by Thulaja, Naidu Ratnala

Yan Kit Road in Tanjong Pagar is a one-way street connecting Craig Road to Cantonment Road. It was named after a well-known dentist, Look Yan Kit.1 In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Yan Kit Road was considered a relatively safe residential area compared with the surrounding roads which had a seedy and dangerous reputation.

Look Yan Kit, a Cantonese dentist trained in Hong Kong, came to Singapore in 1877 and soon became a wealthy and sought-after dentist with an influential and powerful clientele, including Sultan Abu Bakar of Johor and the Rajah of Solo in the Dutch East Indies.2 Look owned two rubber plantations and 70 houses, and was one of the founders of the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital constructed in 1910. Yan Kit Swimming Complex, which opened in 1952 along the road, was also named after him. The pool closed in 2001 due to rising repair costs and dwindling usage.3

Yan Kit Road was one of the few roads that were relatively safe and quiet during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although located in close proximity to Craig Road and Duxton Road, which were notorious for their criminal elements, Yan Kit Road was considered a secure residential place. Lower-middle class homes used to line the street.4

Landmarks and amenities
Located on Yan Kit Road is the Buddhist Poo Thor Jee Temple (Pu Tuo Si Temple).5 Beside the temple is a portion of the Duxton Plain Park that can be accessed via Yan Kit Road, New Bridge Road, Neil Road and Kreta Ayer Road.6 A tembusu tree was planted at the park on 25 April 2015 in memory of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew who passed away on 23 March the previous month. A memorial plaque in his honour was also placed at the park.7 Across the road from Duxton Plain Park is the Vanda Miss Joaquim Park, named after the national flower of Singapore, Vanda Miss Joaquim.8

Many pre-war terrace houses on the road were sold in 1997 to a property developer to make way for new developments.9 Today Yan Kit Road is lined with residential units, eateries, shops and commercial buildings.


Naidu Ratnala Thulaja

1. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013).  Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 407. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
2. Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who's Who Publications, p. 330.  (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS]); Tan, B. H. (1989, April 5 ). The pioneers of Tanjong Pagar. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3.  Why Yan Kit pool must close. (2001, March 29). Today, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Chan, K. S. (1997, December 23). Yan Kit Road was a relatively safe locality. The Straits Times, p. 34. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Priests help in registration. (1947, August 18). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Singapore Buddhist Organisation Directory. (n.d.). Pu Tuo Si Temple. Retrieved 5 May, 2016, from Singapore Dharma Net website: http://www.buddha.sg/htm/general/temple.htm#P
6. Come discover this quiet Chinatown park. (1998, December 16). The Straits Times, p. 47. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; National Parks Board. (2016). Duxton Plain Park. Retrieved 5 May, 2016, from NParks website: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/parks-and-nature-reserves/duxton-plain-park
7. Grosse, S. (2015, April 25). Memorial tree planted at Duxton Plain Park in honour of Lee Kuan Yew. Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 5 May, 2016, from Channel Newsasia website: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/memorial-tree-planted-at/1807036.html
8. Building and Construction Authority. (2011). Vanda Miss Joaquim Park. Retrieved 5 May, 2016, from Our Friendly Built Environment Portal: http://www.bca.gov.sg/friendlybuilding/FindBuilding/Building.aspx?id=2201
9. RDC unit buys property for $26.5m. (1997, January 10). The Straits Times, p. 79. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

The information in this article is valid as at 5 May 2016 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.


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