Yishun: History

11 July 2007

Nee Soon Estate
Nee Soon Road was officially named after Lim Nee Soon by the Rural Board in 1950. Several other roads in Nee Soon Village are named after his businesses (Thong Bee & Thong Soon) and family member (Chong Kuo & Chong Pang). Marsiling is the name of Lim Nee Soon's house.

The history of Nee Soon can be traced back to the mid 19th century, when gambier and pepper plantations flourished along the Seletar River. These plantations were mostly owned by Teochew immigrants, who would name their village after their clan surname. The gambier and pepper plantations were replaced by the more profitable pineapple and rubber estates by the end of the 19th century.

From post-World War II to the 1960s, most of the farmlands in Nee Soon area were devoted to mixed farming, in particular, a combination of horticulture, poultry and livestock breeding. Fishery production activity could also be found near the three rivers of Sungei Simpang, Sungei Khatib Bongsu and Sungei Seletar.

Yishun New Town
Nee Soon continued to be a rural area until it was developed by Housing & Development Board (HDB) in 1979. At the same time, Yishun is formalised as the name for the New Town instead of the original name Nee Soon. However the original name Nee Soon is retain for the suburban estate.

The Hanyu Pinyin system of romanised spelling for Chinese characters is adopted to ensure correct pronunciation and consistency in the spelling of Chinese names. This leads to unhappiness from Lim Nee Soon’s descendants. Although in recent years, there is a reversal of government policy in retaining old dialect names for their historical value, there is no plan of reverting Yishun back to Nee Soon.

Yishun New Town is modelled after and improved upon the earlier Ring Road Model of Toa Payoh. Like other towns of the 1980s, the town has street layout planned to take advantage of the natural topography, with shape of land parcels, existing streets patterns and buildings of architectural interest taken into account. Yishun is planned with particular attention on streetscape, special block design and colour scheme to identify each neighbourhood. Most of the original hills and undulating land are retained for recreational spaces.

Besides the neighbourhood principle, the precinct concept first applied in Tampines is also been adopt in Yishun. The new Simplified series of 3-Room and 4-Room flat designs first introduced in Hougang is also built in Yishun. However, with the demand for smaller flat decreases, blocks of unsold 3-Room and 4-Room Simplified flats were converted into larger 6-Room or 7-Room flats towards the end of the 1980s.


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