Why is it Important to Know our Heritage?
Jurong Lake Gardens (Photo by Lhu Shi Hui on Unsplash)
Many things are essential for our progress in life, such as having enough resources or opportunities. While these are indeed crucial, we introduce a vital but often forgotten element – our heritage.
Many parents hold high hopes for their children to succeed by providing them with tangible resources. However, they often under-emphasise or even neglect to teach the intangibles such as values and heritage, which are equally or if not more important.
Knowing one’s heritage is not restricted to understanding the family history or even how the nation was formed. You may be surprised to learn that even the little town that you reside in Singapore such as Punggol, Pasir Ris, Yishun or Chinatown may contain rich history and gold that you can gather and pass on to your next generation.
In this article, we will be sharing with you one such example of how the rich heritage in the little town of Jurong can positively impact different aspects of life as we delve into the heritage of this precinct.
A Little History on Jurong
Like most towns in Singapore, Jurong (or “Jerung” as it was then known) was named after its environment back in the 1900s. “Jerung” is derived from the Malay word ‘shark’. Back in the day, Jurong was a swampland, densely populated by plantations, hills, and jungles. For a long time, Jurong was also known as a prawn reserve and for its brickwork industry.
By the 1960s, driven by industrial development and motivation for jobs, more businesses set up shop in Jurong. Public housing estates were built to house workers and families that had resettled in the town. In 1968, Jurong Town Council (now called JTC Corporation) was established to head the industrial development of Jurong.
In line with Singapore’s economic growth, JTC has altered their position to focus on advanced industrialisation and developed the area for high-technology and capital-intensive industries. As a result, Jurong housed Singapore’s very first business park in 1992.
Artist impression of Jurong Innovation District (Photo credit: JTC Corporation)
Today, Jurong has radically evolved whilst still retaining footprints from the past. While the town has been transformed into an international business park, it has not forgotten its roots.
Few may know that Jurong is home to one of the oldest brick kilns (The Dragon Kiln) located at Thow Kwang Pottery, built in the 1940s. Other standing historical memoirs include the Jurong Town Hall, Nanyang University Arch, Garden of Fame, and so on.
In a recent article, JTC has pledged to make Jurong a luscious green island amidst the push for economic development. Many companies are happy and willing to join with Jurong to become socially and environmentally responsible whilst preserving their town’s natural landscape.
Along with its rapid development, the population of Jurong has increased from a measly 3,104 people in 1950 to a whopping 450,289 residents today. Nevertheless, it is heartening to know that the “kampong” spirit still resides amongst the Jurong residents, as reflected in an article by Yahoo on how the community came together to save a trapped cat.
In a series done by CNA in 2020 to uncover hidden gems in Singapore, some long-time residents have shared their sentiments with CNA regarding the neighbourhood’s progress.
Many residents also displayed pride at how Jurong still retains its historical value despite its modernisation (just look at the four mega malls – IMM, Jem, Jurong Point, and Westgate – all located in Jurong itself!).
Here are some of the musings by Jurong residents as interviewed by CNA:
“Despite the numerous changes Jurong has seen over the years, Taman Jurong remains a tight-knit community because of how small the estate is,” says Vern, a long-term Jurong resident to date.
“There were many brick kilns in Jurong in the past yet were all shut due to the lack of next-generation owners,” says Stella as she reiterates her intention to keep their grandfather’s legacy alive at Thow Kwang Pottery.
It is apparent that Jurong is close to the hearts of its many residents. Can you say the same about your town?
What Jurong Could Have Been
Imagine this with me – if JTC and Singapore had neglected to preserve Jurong’s rich heritage, choosing instead to focus only on economically developing it as an industrial site or business park, what do you think would have happened? Definitely, there would be tremendous economic growth.
However, perhaps residents would grow cold and Jurong would lose its spirit and soul. Instead of a town dotted with greenery and cultural memoirs, we may look at Jurong as a polluted town with poor suburban planning. In fact, we may see residents choosing to relocate elsewhere instead!
Thankfully, a multi-angled approach was adopted in Jurong’s development. Jurong was transformed into an ecosystem where urbanisation and environmental sustainability could co-exist. Such an approach allowed businesses to grow while still enabling residents and families to call the town their home.
Why is it Important to Know Our Heritage?
Knowing one’s heritage goes beyond taking a trip down memory lane. It entails unpacking the significance behind key decisions and moments that took place in the past.
When you illustrate heritage (and values) to your children or family, your descendants can then trace their roots and appreciate where they are today. By doing so, you integrate the tangible (present) and intangible (lessons from the past), thereby fostering gratitude and an understanding to treasure, protect and preserve what is currently in their hands.
Beyond keeping the present status quo, your descendants will also be able to continue the heritage set in place in their family and/or community, thereby ensuring progress individually and in society without losing the essence and heart of why things are done the way they are.
Therefore, remember to pass down heritage and values to your children! Share stories about the past so that they know how to operate in the present and shape their future.
We know that it is often easy to overlook documenting key milestones and sharing values and heritage amidst our busy schedules. This is where we step in – check out our Memory Time Capsules (MTC) in the heritance app where you can capture unique milestones, memories and values to pass on to your loved ones.
You might also be interested in:
- Ang, W. (2021, September 7). A heartwarming community effort in Jurong West to save a trapped cat in a car bumper. Retrieved from Yahoo! Life: https://sg.style.yahoo.com/heartwarming-community-effort-jurong-west-save-trapped-cat-car-bumper-095410096.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAJDdBF6H9IEejaHgBscDEa9aH7bI2xfqqHg5K_Si8xg2t4GltMdaABj3VVIcpz
- Asokan, A. (2020, November 29). Up Your Alley: Jurong, from ‘cowboy town’ to heritage hotspot. Retrieved from ChannelNewsAsia: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/up-your-alley-jurong-lighthouse-lake-railway-dragon-kiln-576956
- JTC. (2021, October 31). Jurong Island, where nature and industry coexist. Retrieved from JTC | News & Publications: https://www.jtc.gov.sg/news-and-publications/featured-stories/Pages/Greening-Jurong-Island.aspx
- Jurong Lake District. (2021, October 31). Jurong Lake District | Experience. Retrieved from Jurong Lake District: https://www.jld.gov.sg/experience
- Tham, S. (2021, October 31). Jurong Heritage Trail: Into the West. Retrieved from Roots.sg: https://www.roots.gov.sg/stories-landing/stories/into-the-west-jurong-heritage-trail/story
- World Population Review. (2021, October 31). Jurong Population 2021. Retrieved from World Population Review: https://worldpopulationreview.com/world-cities/jurong-population