The weekend following Nomination Day on 16 Jan, we made our way to Sengkang and went around the housing estate in style - in a LRT, our first ride on the Sengkang LRT Line. Only the West Loop, i.e. half of the estate, was completed due to time constraint but still this did not stop me from alighting at one station opened for passenger service only this year. At Cheng Lim Station, located in a part of Sengkang still developing, the view to the north was surprisingly rural. As I stared at the platform signboard with the background in blur, my mind began to wander; and there and then, I wondered where was the PAP candidate's roots in Punggol.
|Dr Koh Poh Koon (ST Photo)|
The Straits Times article by Jessica Cheam gave further clue to Dr Koh's roots in Punggol:
As a boy living near where the Cheng Lim LRT station now stands, he recalled with delight how he played among the pig sty and chicken coops his family kept.I did not catch the part where Dr Koh explained he was living near the site of today's Cheng Lim Station. Did Dr Koh make the association in his speeches or interviews? Or did the journalist make the association herself without verifying with Dr Koh?
In fact I am puzzled over the association of Lorong Cheng Lim where his farmhouse was located with Cheng Lim station where I alighted that weekend. I did not realize it then, when my mind was wandering at the station, that Lorong Cheng Lim did not actually cut through the forested patch today north of the station. Far from it. That was a romantic notion.
Pouring over old maps and comparing them with our current street map, I now have a better idea of the alignment of Lorong Cheng Lim including the location of its "entry point" from the main road, i.e. Punggol Road.
|In an old topo map, Lorong Cheng Lim is shown as a dotted track from the main road. Where is this area in Punggol today?|
|Using a larger-scale map the track marked Lorong Cheng Lim is plotted onto OneMap.|
I'd like to believe my plot is reasonably accurate having used heritage landmarks north and south of Lorong Cheng Lim as guidelines. Even as an approximate alignment, the plot is good indication the track cut through what is today's Compassvale Green, Compassvale Sec School, Compassvale Lodge, TPE, Punggol Waves and terminating at Punggol Walk / Punggol Green Pri School. From the plot, it appears the junction of Lorong Cheng Lim and Punggol Road was located just slightly after today's Punggol Road - Compassvale St cross junction. An eating place sits at the corner (Blk 297C) today, an appropriate signpost to the old junction as your vehicle descends down the gentle slope of Punggol Road after St. Anne Church. Incidentally this would position Lorong Cheng Lim at the 9 1/4 milestone of Punggol Road (note the 15km marking on today's map). How far am I from the historical truth?
We are told Dr Koh moved to Toa Payoh around 1976 after spending three years at the farmhouse. Incidentally the 1970s was the period when redevelopment commenced in Punggol to phase out pig and poultry farming so Dr Koh and family could have been resettled by the government. How was Punggol developed after Dr Koh's time, into the late 70s, 80s and 90s before Punggol New Town?
What is puzzling from the plot of course is the discrepancy of distance between Lorong Cheng Lim and Cheng Lim Station today. According to SBS Transit on Cheng Lim Station,
This station is located very near the old road called Cheng Lim Farmway. Cheng Lim marked the area where farms were plentiful in the old days.Not surprisingly, there is a Farmway Station further down Anchorvale Street before Sungei Punggol.
On a map drawn probably in the 90s before Punggol New Town, I saw Cheng Lim Farmway 2, 4 and 5 and Track 13 marked where today we find Punggol Field and Punggol Central around Punggol Station. As I could not find these tracks on older maps, I suspect they were renamed or added after redevelopment crept in. Interestingly, Google Map also lists Cheng Lim Farmway 1, 3 and 5 and locates them between Farmway and Cheng Lim stations where a vehicle park sits today. Finally in a 1985 photo below, we are told Lorong Cheng Lim was once linked to Cheng Lim Farmway 1.