Thursday 16 December 2010


How I love the scent of  steam from the engine of a coal-fired train.  The clickety clack of the train's wheels have always been a part of my psyche and fired the journeys of my life, both  real and imaginary. 

A long, long time ago  my only ambition was to be a train driver!   I  mentioned this to my Abah and he just nodded and said  "wait and see".

At 66 I still haven't got over my craze and love for trains  and - later when I could afford it - for train journeys.   My one big dream is to travel the train across the Rockies or the fabulous train across Peru.

The last time I departed from Tanjong Pagar
But the train journey closest to my heart is the Kretapi Tanah Melayu  (KTM) from Singapore to anywhere in the Malay Peninsula.  And the name of the station at the end of the line - Tanjong Pagar - always evoked such lovely memories  of the magic of departure and arrival. 

Next year this magnificient station will be cut off from KTM forever and ever.  Decades of train history will be  wiped off and now   the soul and spirit of train travel  will end at Woodlands, that fearful-looking fortress which welcomes your entry into  Singapore from the north .

What will Singapore do to this majestic monument of  Malaya's transport history?  Behind me is a giant-sized  wall painting of padi farming.  It is just one of several  depictions - at Tanjong Pagar Station - of  old Malaya's economic activities.  I shudder to think that these might be replaced or laced with huge, crass banners advertising MacDonalds, Gucci and Estee Lauder!

Tomorrow we will take this train trip from Kuala Lumpur  to Singapore.  We shall arrive at and depart ( on  Wednesday)  from Tanjong Pagar for the last time.

Kretapi Tanah Melayu and Kerajaan Malaysia - I hope you know what you have done.  I hope future generations will not regret what you have terminated.

It's such a shame.


Unknown said...

i do understand your sentiment.. being a lover of heritage, it pains me to know that tanjong pagar station will be no more.. its is after all a very historical place... being a Malaysian i strongly disagree with the Malaysian government decision...

anak si-hamid said...


Thank you. I'm so delighted to find a kindred spirit.

We are selling away our heritage, like selling the family silver to satisfy short term greed.

Awang Goneng said...

Tanjong Pagar isn't the first and will not be the last. He who God wants to make mad will first lose his sense of values. We've been selling knives, forks and spoons to all and sundry and have been tossing memories to the wind. And as they say here, will even sell their grandmother to the Arabs for the money.

I just can't understand people without values or those who do not treasure the past. Oh, there's money of course and there's gold in them thar hills. How did I forget that?

So we'll read on about the treacheries and the robberies done by our dear leaders. If only we could read all those haggling for this precious land done on our behalf by people who are now themselves Tuns.

Pass me the sick bag oh Anak Pak Hamid.

PS Har, har, my wordcheck word is 'brapa'!

anak si-hamid said...

Thank you AG,

Caught your comment just before I turned in.

We have turned 'lanun' unto our owh heritage, history and most of all our dignity!

No difference from the old feudal times eh when the tengkus and datos were selling tin mining concessions, land and ports to all and sundry.

All that education, all that 'merdeka', where did it all lead to? Just a lot of wannabes and wantalot more. This time it's made up of a toxic cocktail of Arabism and Madoffism and MBAs mafia.

You always get such apt wordchecks.

It's time for my Milo. Good night

Wan Sharif said...

Love your phrase "We have turned 'lanun' unto our owh heritage, history and most of all our dignity!" There should be some punishment for those lanun, the wannabes and wantalot more...
and all I can think of is the old malay word pasong.. or did I hear sula..

Mr Bojangles said...

A kindred spirit you are to P. Theroux whose opening sentence in The Great Railway Bazaar was "Ever since childhood, when I lived within earshot of the Boston and Maine, I have seldom heard a train go by and not wished I was on it."

Get a hold of the book if you haven't already.

He has a mention of a KTM trip from Thailand through the peninsula to Singapore. Where he encountered an immigration officer who, as a sop to official Singaporean stringency in those days towards hippies and other reprobates entering their island, commented "Your hair is rather rong". To which P replied "...and yours is rather short."

I think also the term turd world was also coined by him in the GRB for reasons I think one better find out from the book itself.

Cheers. Its almost Friday.

Raden Rohaya Lopez said...

Memories on my mind of Tg Pagar train station when as a little girl my parents always take us on the train to go to JB! It is a short ride, nevertheless it was fun
for us little kid. As you mentioned Ash, we are selling our heritage to satisfy short term greed! Very sad :(

ph said...

i think those shit-heads will turn Tanjong Pagar station into a hotel, just like The Fullerton which was previously the General Post Office, or a shopping mall or condominiums.

imsunnysideup said...

Remember sending and welcoming 'bang 'mar, pa usu and family, ma'cik munah at this station. Always a treat to go there....a long and exciting journey in Abah's car from pasir panjang !! Even remembered the railway crossing near the harbour board !

anak si-hamid said...

Thank you Wan Sharif,

What can we do, when our leaders, both corporate and political have become quite shameless in they way they loot the nation for their own gain?

anak si-hamid said...

Cheers and thank you Mr Bojangles,

Thank you for reminding me of Theroux's Railway Bazaar.
I did enjoy his description of his train journey in Malaya but I find him a tad patronising, even bigoted in the way he describes the 'natives'.
Still it's enjoyable to read a book by a 'kindred spirit.'

anak si-hamid said...

Hello Roy,

Wonderful to know you took that trip to JB. Wasn't it so exciting to cross the Causeway on the clickety-clack?

anak si-hamid said...

Thank you sunnysideup for reminding me of the times when we would go to Tanjong Pagar.

Those were the days when friends and relatives could get on to the platform to welcome visitors or to say good-bye.

And there was no such thing as air-con then.

Do you remember Shah taking his solo trip by train from Segamat to Penang?

imsunnysideup said...

hahahhahah....of course i do... when we greeted him at the station, i'm sure he felt like a real MAN...having just had a long train trip on his own and his stories went on for quite a few days...

imsunnysideup said...

'Those were the days when friends and relatives could get on to the platform to welcome visitors or to say good-bye.'

If you remember ...non travellers had to buy platform tickets from a dispensing machine ---probably the first of such machines for those days. I was always the one to slot in twenty-cents coins into this authoritarian machine to get the tickets . Thats what it cost per person. Wish they have that machine in their musuem. Its made of solid iron and if I'm not wrong, the instructions were engraved on that dull painted machine ..

anak si-hamid said...

Thank you sunnysideup for reminding me of that 'iron ticket'.

I think you have a better memory of times on the railway platform. But then you were always Abah's little shadow and tagged along with hime wherever he ent.