Ang Mo Kio

English:Ang Mo Kio
Malay:Ang Mo Kio
Tamil:ஆங் மோ கியோ

Ang Mo Kio is a heartland new town located in north central Singapore, and is generally within the North-East Region. It has a town centre and six neighbourhoods. Although containing many of the common features of the island nation's neighbourhoods, e.g. hawker centres, wet markets and HDB housing blocks, residents see the town as retaining a distinctive identity. Singapore's Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong is the Member of Parliament for this constituency. As an urban planning division, the Ang Mo Kio Planning Area lies within this region.

Origin of the name

The locality's name is believed by some to derive from the Hokkien phrase Ang Mo Kio (红毛桥), meaning "Westerner Bridge". The term ang mo (literally "red hair") is a somewhat derogatory Singlish reference to the people with fair hair who settled from the West and, because such a name might be considered unflattering, it is now written as 宏茂桥 in Mandarin Chinese, which is pronounced in an almost identical way but means "Bridge of Expansiveness and Prosperity". Some local people have incorrectly assumed that the new version of the name refers to the bridges at the seventh milestone of Thomson Road (found at the junction of Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 and Thomson Road). These two old bridges were known as Or-kio ("black bridges") in the local spoken dialects. Research suggests that neither of these bridges were officially named, but they spanned the canal and the old Kallang River, forming a link to the Pierce Reservoir.

Missing image
A map bearing reference to the name

The actual source of the name comes from the old survey maps which label the land as "Mukim of Ang Mo Kio" (Mukim meaning "area" or "district" in Malay). The word "Ang Mo" 红毛 may in fact not refer to Westerners. Rather, it is derived from two separate combined phrases in Hokkien. Ang Mo Dan means "rambutan" 红毛丹, a local fruit, red and covered in hair, found plentifully around the areas of old kampongs. Likely the second suffix "kio" 桥 ("bridge" or "bridges" in Hokkien) was added to the prefix "Ang Mo" 红毛 as an additional description to indicate a more precise location that residents would recognize i.e.红毛桥. There were many concrete bridges built by the old kampong dwellers. It first appears on the early maps drawn by surveyors who took those two phrases and combined them to form "Mukim of Ang Mo Kio" ("District of Ang Mo Kio"). The actual location of Ang Mo Kio New Town has been also known by the former name Kou-teu kio, Hokkien for "Ninth Bridge".

Culture and changes

In the new town, the old friendly kampong spirit of sharing and caring seems to survive as a strong cultural trait. The older generation of kampong people who were once fruit and vegetable growers, small-scale merchants and hard working laborers, have produced two generations of children. The majority continue to live with their children in the renewed environment — the family ties are strong with multi-generaltional units residing in three- to five-room HDB apartments. The lifestyle of the area has been transformed from the simple one of the kampong to urbanized, modernized, and somewhat Westernized living including the obvious modern amenities of piped running water, electricity, flush toilets, and daily garbage removal plus all the less obvious safeguards which were never possible in the era of the small village (e.g. water management systems to drain the monsoon rains into the reservoirs). Some old kampong folk consider one of the most significant changes of recent times to be that, "Even the postman can deliver his mail without problems!"

Many of the adult children have moved on to the new housing estates in Sengkang, Punggol, Woodlands New Town and other parts of the Island but the kinship spirit is kept alive by constant return visits to their older forbears, especially during the weekends and public holidays (particularly at Chinese New Year when the Reunion Dinners are held). Even when away from home in other parts of the world, an Ang Mo Kio resident will be proud to say, “I am from Ang Mo Kio”!”"

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