Preserve Farrer Park site for its historic firsts

I was saddened to read of the impending demolition of the sports structures around the Farrer Park fields (Farrer Park to make way for redevelopment; March 31).

The site had been the venue of many historic firsts.

It was where Singapore's first organised nine-hole game of golf was played in 1891, the first place in the country where an airplane took off in 1911 and it was the site of celebrations marking the centenary of the founding of Singapore in 1919.

The boxing gym which opened in 1968 was where Syed Abdul Kadir, the first Singaporean boxer to win a Commonwealth Games boxing medal, trained.

The Farrer Park Swimming Complex was where Ang Peng Siong, the world's fastest swimmer in 1982, learnt to swim.

The Athletic Centre was where our fastest runner C. Kunalan did his sprints.

And the stadium was where football legends like coach Choo Seng Quee and players, Dollah Kassim, the Quah brothers and Fandi Ahmad plied their trade.

We have already lost a treasure trove of local sporting memorabilia and records due to a fire that destroyed Farrer Park Sports House, which housed more than 40 national sports associations, as well as the Athletic Centre, which has been demolished.

I hope we will not lose whatever historic structures we have left in the area.

The no-fuss, practical designs of the boxing gym and swimming complex may not have enough architectural merit to warrant conservation, but they deserve a second thought by the authorities for their contribution to Singapore's sporting heritage.

Perhaps they could be integrated into future developments on the site.

The boxing gym could be turned into a heritage gallery with a cafe, and the swimming complex could be expanded into a water sports and recreation community hub for the neighbourhood.

They serve to remind us of a time when our sportsmen made do with what little they had to train and fight hard in order to win sporting glory for our nation.

Edwin Pang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2018, with the headline 'Preserve Farrer Park site for its historic firsts'. Print Edition | Subscribe