Jun 23, 2011
Posted by Icemoon
As you may have guessed, yours truly have gone on multiple trips to Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, thanks to his excellent workplace location at Si Pai Por. As the deadline for the station closure looms, I brave a few midday sun in my business clothes to explore the station; to shoot and re-shoot, to makan and to observe the crowd, at the same time wondering hard about its history from 1932. It was a frenzy of activity for me; and so every visit, without fail, I would be rewarded with a shirt - the one I'm wearing - soaked in sweat.
Wednesday was no different, except I saw KTM selling their merchandise to mark - the word commemorate would be so wrong - the end of railway travel in Singapore. Boarding the train at Woodlands come July 1 does not count, in any case KTM would fully withdraw its main line services to Johor Bahru after 2018.
Souvenir for sale to mark the end of rail travel in Singapore. Two fridge magnets and a t-shirt were what I saw.
The staff set up a table for the sale of souvenir that people will remember as the "good old days which have gone by". There was no snaking queue like the ticket counter, perhaps transaction was faster for this lelong lelong kind of sales. I stood by the table to examine the goods on display: two fridge magnets, showing Tanjong Pagar and Bukit Timah stations; and a black t-shirt with a striking photo of Tanjong Pagar station from an earlier era. I did not immediately ask for their price and almost wanted to, but a $20 sticker on one t-shirt stopped me. I'm quite sure the price is not in ringgit and when I examined the fridge magnet and t-shirt closer, the purist in me thought they were so wrong.
Tanjong Pagar souvenir t-shirt on display. Can you spot what I felt was so wrong on the t-shirt?
Stesen Keretapi Tanjong Pagar - these are the words printed below the photo. Actually there is really nothing wrong with the t-shirt, except this is not what KTM call the station. You see, the proper word in Bahasa Melayu/Indonesia is Tanjung. Tanjung Pinang (in Bintan) rings a bell? The Malaysians, as in KTM, call the station Tanjung Pagar. This is so obvious from what is visible outside the station.
The lettering Stesen Keretapi Tanjung Pagar on the big blue signage outside the station.
In the end I did not buy any of their souvenir. I thought the attempt at appealing to Singaporeans, to the extent of ditching the Malay name for our English one and the last minute effort at commercialization felt a little weak and turned me off somehow. Assuming they meant to use the English name, why did they use "Stesen Keretapi" and not "Railway Station"? The hefty price tag was also pretty discouraging.
I have decided instead of paying for something that will lose its magnetism over the years or a garment that will become rag cloth in future, I will create my own Stesen Keretapi Tanjung Pagar souvenir for free. In fact I see many people doing that, creating their own souvenir using a digital camera. These bits and bytes should last a lifetime and many generations.
Stesen Keretapi Tanjung Pagar 1932 - 2011. This is the same photo you see on the souvenir t-shirt. What do you think?