Nee Soon Road
by Thulaja, Naidu Ratnala
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.
Lim Nee Soon (b. 12 November 1879, Singapore–d. 20 March 1936, Shanghai, China) was a prominent businessman who owned several estates. 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). Lim was also active in public affairs, being a co-founder of the Chinese High School, and serving as a Justice of the Peace and member of the Rural Board.2
Lim owned a large area of land along the Seletar River and in recognition for his contributions, the British government renamed the village Chan Chu Kang (also known as Jia Chui Kang) Nee Soon Village after him in 1930.3 In 1950, Nee Soon Road was officially named after him by the Rural Board to make postal services easier.4
Many roads in the vicinity of Nee Soon Road are named after Lim or his family members.5 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.6
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.7 These establishments, however, are no longer present today.
In 2002, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) decided to develop the area around Nee Soon Road 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.8 In the same year, the URA developed plans to realign the road through a new park near Sungei Seletar.9 However, these plans were shelved in 2003 due to environmental concerns.10
In 2014, Springleaf Nature Park was first of four new nature parks around the Central Catchment Area to be opened to the public. The six-hectare park is bounded by Nee Soon Road and Upper Thomson Road.11
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja
1. Singapore Street Directory. (n.d.). Nee Soon Road. Retrieved 2020, May 20 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; 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)
3. 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.
4. 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. 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)
6. Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Publications, p. 221. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN)
7. 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)
8. Neo, H. M. (2002, August 31). Park vs reserve: The verdict is still out. The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Urban villages to gain more charm. (2002, August 2). The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Residents say ‘no’ to spas and yoga studios in Springleaf. (2003, January 23). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Feng, Z. (2014, November 2). New nature park at Nee Soon Road and Upper Thomson Road opens. The New Paper, p. 6/7; Feng, Z. (2014, November 2). Go birdwatching at new nature park. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. Singapore Street Directory. (n.d.). Nee Soon Road. Retrieved 2020, May 20 from Singapore Street Directory website: http://www.streetdirectory.com/sg/nee-soon-road/20332_1.html
The information in this article is valid as at August 2020 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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