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In Malay, the word "Kampung" means "village or settlement" and "Glam" is the name of a particular tree, which grew in abundance in the area in early Singapore. In the beginning, Kampong Glam was a fishing village situated at the mouth of Rochor River.  It became more populated and grew into prominence after the Sultan of Singapore, Hussein Mohammed Shah and the Temenggong signed a treaty with the East India Company in 1819.


Photo source: "Kampong Glam - Spirit of a Community"

In nineteen century, Kampong Glam remains an ethnic district with a strong Malay-Arab influence. It is a place where one will patronise for their Arab-Muslim traditional foodstuff and merchandise. In 1822 "Town Plan", Sir Stamford Raffles allocated Kampong Glam to the Malays, Bugis and Arabs. As trade flourished, Farquhar preferred the business quarter to be centered here at Kampong Glam. Rough justice, robberies, street brawls and stabbings were common.


Photo source: "Kampong Glam - Spirit of a Community"

Tengku Ali built Istana Kampong Glam in 1840 at Sultan Gate. Tengku Ali was only recognised as Sultan of Singapore by the British, in 1855. By 1911, Singapore’s population numbered over 185,000 with nearly three-quarter of those Chinese; men outnumbered women 8:1. Kampong Glam, during that period was swallowed up as a city with vibrant commerce, but lawless attitudes and a money-making fervour where wealth was more admired over scholarship. It had become, as Raffles had predicted, "the emporium and pride of the East".

What we see today in Kampong Glam is a variety of rich heritage passed down from generation to generation. Some of these long enduring traditions are in the form of monuments, trades, cultures and practices. Conservation of places of worship, old school, old dwellings, some of which are still in their original form while others have been refurbished. These rich remains give a hint of the architecture and life style of the early days. Such diverse rich heritage can only come about through a sense of tolerance, sharing and bonding, all encapsulated in the Kampong Glam spirit.


Photo source: "Kampong Glam - Spirit of a Community"

Constantly improving the living standards of its constituents is the main preoccupation of its grassroots leaders. Improving the housing estates that are more than 10 years old is carried out under two schemes. Those more than twenty years old would come under the Main Upgrading Programme. Those between ten and seventeen years old would qualify under the Interim Upgrading Programme, where improvement work is confined to the surrounding area and no work is done inside the individual flat.

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