Reflections at Bukit Chandu: Remembering the Bravery of a Few

Reflections at Bukit Chandu

Sitting along the top of Pepys Road, Reflections at Bukit Chandu is an interpretative centre that recounts the events that took place during the World War II Battle of Pasir Panjang and the deeds of the brave men who fought there.

Events on Pasir Panjang Ridge

In February 1942, the Malay Regiment was tasked to defend the Western sector of Singapore. As invading forces pushed towards the centre of the island, the regiment were forced back on to Pasir Panjang Ridge (now Kent Ridge) where Reflections at Bukit Chandu is located.

At that time, the defence of the ridge was critical as beyond lay the army’s ammunition and supply depots. It was imperative to stop these resources from falling into enemy hands.

The stubbornness of the soldiers defending the hill led to some of the fiercest fighting ever seen on Singapore soil.

Opium Hill

The name Bukit Chandu means Opium Hill in Malay and is a reference to a British opium processing plant that stood at the base of the hill.

Stairs leading up to Reflections at Bukit ChanduThe building that now houses Reflections at Bukit Chandu was originally built as a residence for senior British officers. It was used to store supplies during the battle itself.

Reflections at Bukit ChanduInside the two-storey colonial bungalow, you will find exhibition galleries that keep alive the memory of those dark days in the surrounding area. History is presented through photographs, maps and artefacts.

Overview of Events

Exhibition area on the first floor of Reflections at Bukit Chandu
Exhibition area on the first floor of Reflections at Bukit Chandu

On the first floor of Reflections at Bukit Chandu are exhibits that provide an overview of the events leading up to the Battle of Pasir Panjang.

View a multimedia presentation of the Battle of Pasir Panjang inside a pillbox
View a multimedia presentation of the Battle of Pasir Panjang inside a pillbox

These include a map that shows a timeline of events that culminates in the invasion of Singapore and a multimedia presentation of the Battle of Pasir Panjang.

These bicycles are a reminder of how the invading army managed to conquer Malaya and Singapore in just over two months.
These bicycles are a reminder of how the invading army managed to overrun British Malaya and Singapore in just over two months.

Remembering the Brave

Second floor exhibition area at Reflections at Bukit Chandu
Second floor exhibition area at Reflections at Bukit Chandu
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The second floor is a more detailed account of the Malay Regiment who held the hill and the soldiers who gave their lives defending the ridge.

Bust of Lieutenant AdnanOf significance is the story of Lieutenant Adnan bin Saidi.

Born in Selangor in 1915, he joined the Malay Regiment when he was 18. As a career soldier, he rose through the ranks and became a commissioned officer. He was the leader of 7th Platoon “C” Company of the Malay Regiment that was defending the Pasir Panjang area.

Displays of the Malay Regiment's uniforms
Displays of the Malay Regiment’s uniforms at Reflections at Bukit Chandu.

Even though heavily outnumbered, he valiantly led the defence of Pasir Panjang Ridge. The fierce resistance included hand-to-hand fighting but eventually the regiment was overrun.

For his role in the battle, Lieutenant Adnan was mercilessly executed. He was only 27.

This army-issued mug belongs to Lt. Ibrahim Sidek who was executed for refusing to remove his Malay Regiment uniform. It has been his widow's only keepsake of him as his body was never found.
This army-issued mug belonged to Lt. Ibrahim Sidek who was executed for refusing to remove his Malay Regiment uniform. It has been his widow’s only keepsake of him as his body was never found.

Place for Reflection

The interpretive centre’s exhibition space is small. Nonetheless, personal stories, such as those of Lieutenant Adnan, make a visit to Reflections at Bukit Chandu a contemplative and rich experience.

Collection of weapons at Reflections at Bukit Chandu
Collection of weapons at Reflections at Bukit Chandu

Worth a mention is the centre’s collection of military weapons that include rifles, a Vickers machine gun and a mortar.

The centre’s exhibits do not glorify war nor are they gruesome (unlike some photos at Changi Museum). Instead, the interpretive centre serves to reminds visitors of the price of peace and sacrifice of patriots.

This point is well captured by a plaque at the centre inscribed a quote from George Yeo in 1997, then Minister for Information and the Arts. It reads, “If we do not remember our heroes, we will produce no heroes. If we do not record their sacrifices, their sacrifices would have been in vain… the greatest strength we have as a people is our common memories of the past and our common hopes for the future…For without those memories, the next generation will not have the fighting spirit to carry on.”

Sculpture of a mortar team at Reflections at Bukit Chandu
Sculpture of a mortar team at Reflections at Bukit Chandu

Visit Reflections at Bukit Chandu to discover these common memories and what it means to have hope for the future.

Reflections at Bukit Chandu

Address: 31-K Pepys Road, Singapore 118458
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sundays, 9 am to 5.30 pm, Closed on Mondays except Public Holidays
Free admission

NEARBY: Kent Ridge Park – Tranquility in the Woods

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