Idea of bringing back Yan Kit swimming pool floated again

MP polls Tanjong Pagar residents on having swimming complex at old site

There is a new buzz among Tanjong Pagar residents who are talking once again about having a swimming pool where the landmark Yan Kit Swimming Complex used to be.

The old pool was popular in the 1950s and 1960s but closed in 2001 after fewer and fewer people swam there. Three years ago, residents tried to bring it back, with a petition and online campaign, but that did not work.

Now, an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, Ms Indranee Rajah, is polling residents to ask them what they think, and many want a pool in the neighbourhood again.

More than half the residents of eight blocks surveyed by the Tanjong Pagar Plaza Residents' Committee are in favour of a pool.

Feedback is also being sought from residents of almost 1,850 units at Pinnacle@Duxton Housing Board estate, near the former swimming complex.

Posters saying "Vote for or against a swimming pool at former Yan Kit swimming complex" have popped up around the estate. Residents can send their completed surveys to the Tanjong Pagar Community Club, or fill it online at The deadline is June 16.

The Yan Kit complex opened in 1952 and was Singapore's second public pool after the one which opened at Mount Emily in 1931.

It was so popular after it opened that there was standing room only on some days, and Tuesdays were set aside for women and girls too shy to appear in their swimming costumes when there were men around.

The two estates being polled now are closest to the site of the former pool.

Ms Indranee told The Sunday Times she wanted a sense of what residents hope to see at the Yan Kit site, and to ensure there was a "proper process of checking".

She said the final decision would be made by the Singapore Sports Council (SSC), which had "made a great effort to find out what the community would like and to make it a collaborative effort".

The SSC said last year that the 0.6ha site would be turned into a community sports venue. In tender documents last October, it recommended having a play field, indoor sports gymnasium and sheltered area for events at the site.

It also said then that it would consult residents about the long-term use of the site.

Those in favour of bringing back the swimming pool include Pinnacle@Duxton resident Calvin Chu, 36, who noted that a pool could be a focal point of activity for teenagers, adults and the elderly.

The strategy consultant added: "It's important to preserve at least some collective memories of our history, especially if we want to build a sense of community as a neighbourhood or as a nation."

His neighbour, teacher Suzanne Eng, 33, said a pool would be ideal when her two children, aged two and 31/2, eventually learn to swim.

"I think it's not too bad an idea to re-open the swimming pool to cater for the vast number of residents in the surrounding areas. But besides the swimming pool, it should also have its own attractions like swimming enrichment lessons, and it should be child-friendly," said Ms Eng.

SSC sports facilities group chief Kenneth Hui told The Sunday Times: "SSC welcomes additional feedback from the residents and grassroots leaders based on the original proposal of a multi-generational facility. We will continue to work closely with the grassroots leaders... to incorporate ideas that will encourage residents to participate actively and regularly in sport."

He said the long-term plans would be announced in due course.

Engineering officer David Kwok, 62, who lives in the area, noted that when the pool closed back in 2001, it was because of low usage and high operating costs.

"But now, with the 1,800 families at Pinnacle and new schools in the area coming up, a pool should be justified," said Mr Kwok.

Keeping a city's memories alive - Think