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PostPosted: Sun, 15 Oct 2006 10:53 am 
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This is part 2 of a series of articles into early history of Singapore.....
Part 1 is on the Last Sultan of the Lingga-Riau Empire buried in Singapore

More to follow.


The Kallang River is the longest river in Singapore flowing from the Pierce Reservoir to the coast at Nicoll Highway. For a long time the Kallang Gasworks was quite a landmark with its distinctive appearance and gas odours. Singapore's first International Airport at Kallang was completed in 1937, and was closed only with the opening of Paya Lebar Airport. The old building and grounds became the Youth Sports Club, and then the site for the Peoples' Association

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Satellite map of Kallang and Rochor River

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Kallang River in 2006


The Biduanda Orang Kallang, a people group found in Java, constituted at least 50% of the 1000 residents found in Singapore at the time of Raffles' landing. They were a shy, primitive river people who were boat-dwellers, and had lived in the swamps at the mouth of the Kallang River, which thereafter took on their name. After 1824, the Kallang people were relocated to Pulai River by the Temenggong of Johore, when Singapore was ceded to Britain. There were about a hundred families, but in 1847, the small pox disease reduced them to merely 8 families.

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Kallang Kampong

In the 1835 G. D. Coleman Map of Singapore, a long stretch of the coast along Kallang was in sand and mud with mangrove marsh and swamp land blanketing the Kallang Basin. Coleman's map also shows a Bugis Village between the Rochore and Kallang Rivers. A road called Kampong Bugis exists and marks the area. In the early days, Bugis Traders unloaded their cargoes from their sail boats here. The Orang Bugis also lived on the opposite side of Kallang Road on Padang Jeringau and Kampong Soo Poo (now gone with the development of Kallang Bahru Industrial estate). Some of the Bugis can trace their family origins to The Celebes (Sulawesi).
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Early 1819 map show Kampong Bugis already in existence

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Early Picture of Kampong Bugis

At that time some Muslim teachers (orginating from Baghbad) came from Pasai and Palembang to stay near the Kallang River. Their purpose is to teach Islam to the Orang Lauts living near the Kallang River.(Pasai is a Muslim harbour kingdom located in North Sumatra in the eary 13 - 15 centuries)

The name of the Muslim saint was Siti Mariam. She arrive in the 1700s, together with her family and mother. Unfortunately she die at a tender age of 18. Her grave and family grave is still there at Kallang. The keramat was erected in her honor because of her holy pious nature and the help and assistance she rendered to the Orang Laut people living there at the Kallang river at that time.

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Some of the tombs at Makam Siti Mariam at Kallang. The middle one is
Syed Abu Bakar Idrus, father of Siti Mariam.

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The grave of Siti Mariam, holy Muslim saint who taught Islam to the Kallang Orang.

Other family members who came and was buried alongside with her:

Father: Syed Abu Bakar Idrus
Brother: Syed Abdullah Maulanah bin Syed Abu Bakar Idrus
Sister: Siti Khatijah, the sister of Siti Mariam - the grave on the other side of Siti Mariam's grave
Grandmother: Siti Maimunah

If the 300 year old source can be authenticated, then this makam of an early Arab lady preacher and her family would be one of the earliest history in Singapore whereby Islam was introduced.

Source : oral interviews with 64 year old caretaker Ali (since 1987)


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