Sunday, September 6, 2015

Lost Roads and Heritage: Masjid Petempatan Melayu Sembawang

I've been wanting to visit Masjid Petempatan Melayu Sembawang or "Sembawang Malay Settlement Mosque" in English, off Sembawang Road for awhile now. Been doing a lot of research on the internet,

It has been described by many as "the last kampong mosque in Singapore".
Masjid Petempatan Melayu Sembawang 

Petempatan Melayu Sembawang (Sembawang Malay Settlement)

Located in the former Kampong Tengah, in the 1960, the mosque was built and named "Masjid Kampong Tengah" after the kampong it was located in. The mosque was build through fundraising, in which the Lee Foundation donated $10 000 (Which was a lot of money at that time) to the cause. The area along the coastlines was populated by several Malay kampongs including Kampong Lobang Bom, Kampong Tanjong Irau and the well known Kampong Wak Hassan. Together, the area was called "Petempatan Melayu Sembawang" or "Sembawang Malay Settlement".
1981 vs 2015 maps of the area.
Wak Hassan Drive, presumably named after the former kampong.
Sometime later, the mosque was renamed Masjid Petempatan Melayu Sembawang. It became a center for Muslim communal affairs, From cukur rambut to weddings, it served as a social and religious center for the villagers for many years.

Entrance into Andrews Avenue off Sembawang Road.
After riding down the private estate, the scenery changed to a more rural setting
Further down, where Andrews Avenue ends and Jalan Mempurong begins.
Junction of Jalan Inggu and Jalan Mempurong 
Jalan Mempurong, the road leading towards the mosque.
Street sign of Jalan Mempurong from the 70s.
Sign at junction of Jalan Inggu and Jalan Selimang
Jalan Selimang

The roads, unmaintained and filled with potholes really adds to the kampong charm. It really feels as if I've been transported back to the 50s and 60s. Mediacorp and hipster photographers should really use this location for kampong road scenes!

Masjid Petempatan Melayu Sembawang

A sign outside the mosque.
From the sign, the covered walkway leading to the building.
The western side of the mosque, showcasing the kampong character of the building.
Outside the main prayer hall
Outside the main prayer hall
Outside the main prayer hall
Main prayer hall
Despite being a kampong mosque, it did feature modern conveniences. 
The mosque cat. Seems to be blind as it responds to the sounds that I make.
Despite being a kampong mosque, the institution did feature modern conveniences such as water coolers, modern plumbing for ablution areas and a flat screen television. Guess this is something that cannot be avoided, considering that these modern facilities are needed to better serve the worshipers of today,

As viewed from Jalan Selimang
Another angle


From what I have read and gathered, it's kinda ironic that they destroyed kampongs to make way for private housing estates. Literally taking away the homes, livelihoods, memories and selling them at a premium to the rich and wealthy. Sure, its for "progress", but at what cost to the villagers?

Being there, I really felt that I have been transported back in time, and felt that I've been into a kampong in Batam or Malaysia. Rarely you'll get to experience this kind of life in the concrete jungles of Singapore, let alone seeing one and in disbelief that such a place still exist in Singapore.

Today, what is left of the areas once known as "Petempatan Melayu Sembawang" is just a two ulu unmaintained roads, a mosque and a name. Currently the mosque is sitting on land designated as "Temporary occupation license". With this in mind, other developments seem to be closing in into the area and hopefully, the government has no plans to develop the area. Through this blog post, I hope to have document my experience and proudly say that I have had my chance to pray in this mosque.


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