Reflections at Bukit Chandu: A Place to Remember and Learn

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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 the invading forces pushed towards the centre of the island, the regiment was 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 in.

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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.

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

Inside 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.

Exhibits at 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, or the Battle of Opium Hill as it is also known. These include a map that shows a timeline of events that culminates in the invasion of Singapore.

The second floor is a more detailed account of the Malay Regiment who held the hill and the soldiers who sacrificed their lives to defend the ridge.

Of 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.

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.

Place for Reflection

It is the personal stories at Reflections at Bukit Chandu, such as that of Lieutenant Adnan, that make a visit a truly reflective experience. The Centre’s exhibits do not glorify war nor are they gruesome (unlike some photos at Changi Museum). Instead, the interpretive centre 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.”

Pay a visit to 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

READ: Changi Museum – Personal Accounts of Dark Days

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