By Tan Bah Bah who was born in Geylang
By 2034, Geylang will cease to be an area of concern. The Commissioner of Police recently told the Committee of Inquiry on the Little India riot that he was more worried about Geylang than Little India. His worries were unnecessary.
From blueprints and documents provided by reliable sources, The Independent Singapore learnt that a multi-ministry was set up five years ago to look at the feasibility of upgrading Geylang. We also managed to talk to some of the people involved in the project, which is expected to cost a whopping $2.2 billion.
We can expect that the heritage charm of the place will be preserved, particularly the Straits Eclectic architectural style with its European Doric columns, shuttered windows and brightly coloured ceramic tiles with flower and bird motifs.
The study team made several visits to foreign cities that have successfully gentrified their red light areas, especially Amsterdam and Paris.
Liew Tua Ker, who was a member of one of the teams, said they picked up some good ideas, which they hoped to implement here.
For example, the committee will work with the Heritage Board to set up a special museum dedicated to the history of the famous brothels and ‘lorongs of Geylang’. They have begun collecting invaluable items ranging from art pieces by well-known British artists who had patronised these brothels and struck up relationships with the call girls, to famous clients registers kept by mamasans. Rumour had it that the CID forced these mamasans to keep track of their contacts, which proved useful for criminal investigations.
“I’m very excited about the Geylang project,” said Liew, “It will showcase a Singapore which has always been an integral part of our lives but had somehow been neglected to our detriment..”
Geylang will, however, not just be about the olde-worlde.
High-end condominiums will be built on Sims Avenue and Guillemard Road, to take advantage of Geylang’s proximity to the Sports Hub area.
Below the roads, a new underground city will be making its appearance. The city will stretch all the way through to the Kallang River. A tunnel made of the strongest glass will allow residents to live and dine beneath the river.
Dr Tay Keng Now, a leading architect, described the Geylang plan as one of the most imaginative he had ever come across: “Singapore continues to surpass itself. First the Barrage, then, the Gardens By The Bay. Now, Geylang 101.”
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