When I’m 54: Uniquely “Temasek” Things You Never Knew
Text by Khong Swee Lin Video by Dorothy Clement
As we jubilantly swig teh tarik and gobble kaya toast in honour of this modern island’s 54th birthday – chew on these six “uniquely Temasek” morsels:
10 Uniquely Temasek You Never Knew
1. Do exotic animals such as anteaters actually live in Singapore?
Yes, they do and they’re critically endangered. The Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica), an anteater that is native to Singapore, lives in Nature reserves but is threatened by rapid urbanisation.
2. Found growing happily on our little isle is a plant that’s quite carnivorous. Should this plant be permitted in safe Singapore?
Well, it probably is a citizen by birth! And to top that, it’s named after Sir Stamford… no less! The Nepenthes rafflesiana, or Raffles pitcher plant, is a scrambling vine discovered by Dr William Jack in 1819, trapping and digesting small animals like snails.
3. Singlish aside, we also have our “rojak tongue”, for instance, “You want to makan now?” Is our “rojak” speech uniquely Singaporean?
Perhaps not. It’s all Parameswara’s fault. The “rojak”, or “eclectic mix”, of languages probably came about upon his alleged founding of Malacca (now spelt Melaka), around 1402 and its subsequent prosperity. Tomo Pires, the indefatigable 16th-century Portuguese recorder of all things remarked that “… Moors, Turks, (men from) Orissa, Cambodia, Brunei, Java, Moluccas, Banda, Aden, the Deccan, Chinese, Klings, Armenians, Parsis, (men from) Maldives, Madura, Ceylon, Pegu, Kedah, Siamese, Parsis, Gujeratis…” lived in the cosmopolitan port of Malacca, population 50,000, speaking 84 languages.
4. Where can you find otters in Singapore?
Besides scouring the shelves of the National Library for tales on otters, you might wander to Sungei Buloh Nature Park and Marina Bay Reservoir.
5. Remember Marine Parade? The Marine… Parade… literally?
For that was exactly what it was in 1965 – a promenade by the sea, complete with local casuarina firs, sandy beach and holiday homes. Then part of Katong, it yielded to land reclamation shortly after. The rest is history, as the artificial promenade, the likes of Parkway Parade and other delights, eventually replaced the natural.
6. Is “Tekka” market Singapore’s oldest market?
No, it’s Lau Pa Sat, built in 1838 and rebuilt in 1894.