Saturday, December 27, 2008

no hamburgers at this macdonald house


(photo from national archive of singapore)


many people, especially the young, who walk past this building along orchard road, are totally unaware that more than forty-three years ago, this building was the object of a terrorist attack. a bomb went off and it killed three people and injured many others.

you can read more about it at this website and this newspaper report.

this historic building, built in 1949, used to house the hongkong and shanghai banking corporation (hsbc) on the first few floors. it was vacant for a number of years before reopening in 2005. today, a different bank (citibank) occupies the lower four floors.

another building nearby - demolished in the early 80s to make way for the dhoby ghaut mrt station - was the subject of a bomb hoax during the same time. amber mansions was located at the corner of penang road and orchard road.

two other interesting buildings located along the same row are one housing the bmc academy and its neighbour which houses the mdis. one of them used to be a motor-car showroom. which one?



21 comments:

Victor said...

YG, your "this website" html link didn't work. Hence not enough reference material so can't attempt your quiz.

yg said...

victor, thks for alerting me; i have rectified the problem. i am sure you don't need any reference material to answer the question. this part of orchard road was/is just a short walk from your former cheng yan place.

Victor said...

YG, I needed help. I was only 9-year-old when this incident happened in 1965. Luckily I found it in the other linked article - it said that Progress Motors was right beside Macdonald House. Cross-checking with your photos, I conclude that the car showroom was the building now housing BMC.

yg said...

now, i need help. if progress motors was next to macdonald house, then there was more than one motor-car showrooms. in fact, there was at least one more (ford motors) showroom on the other side of the road.
i don't have very clear memories of motor-cars showrooms because at that time i was more into motor-cycles.

peter said...

The MDIS bdlg = Malayan Motors Ltd belonging to Wearnes Brothers, distributor for Mini Leyland cars.

Progress Motors agent for for Volvo if I am correct was not on the side of MacDonald House but at the corner of Orchard Road and Oldham Road or Oldham Lane in those days.

Plaza Singapura after the Istana was Borneo Motors, agent for Toyota cars. BMC Bdlg was not Progress Motor. Ford Motor's agent (name temporarily forgotten, think it was "Island.......") was at the corner of Orchard Road and Penang Lane (now a park). After Ford there was Cycle & Carriage showroom for Mercedes cars. Cycle & Carriage Bdlg unique because it had a modernistic look because of its aluminum cladding. There were 2 ways into Cycle and Carriage and Ford; via Penang Road.

Between Cycle & Carriage was a row of 2 storey shophouses , one shop sells carpets and another was a music school.

The Jewish cemetery was behind this row. There was also a Hindu temple on this side.

BMC Bdlg if I am not wrong was either a nite club or a laundry shop. I hate to get my 'era" wrong. Further down was Keller Piano housed in a 2 storey shophouse (now demolished for the left turn into Selegie Road).

Amber Mansion had a carpark within the bdlg and access was from Penang Road (opposite the church). There was Foster's Smokehouse restaurant upsides, Edward Eu Private Ltd, agent for RCA and Whirpool consuner products on the ground floor.

peter said...

There was a SHELL station either at Borneo Motor or Ford Motor site

I mean "Between Cycle & Carriage and For ...there was a 2 storey row of shop houses".

Between 1960s and 1970s, we use to come and see the cars, collect brochures and dreaming one day can drive a car (not own a car). There was very little entertainment in those days, so this was the best we could do to keep ourselves occupied with activities.

peter said...

There was a trade practice among car agents in those days. If you want to buy brand new car, you walk into the showroom facing Orchard Road. If you want to buy secondhand car you enter from Handy Road or Penang Road. The reason? The distributors' showrooms were separated into 2 halves. The workshop and secondhand car showroom were on Handy Road and Penang Road side.

peter said...

I say "Sala". Should be "Between Cycle & Carriage and Amber Mansion was the Hindu temple and a row of 2 storey shophouses....".

There was also a upmarket ladies boutique at Amber Mansion ground floor nearer to the Hindu temple. We used to see mannequins dressed up in bikinis and we starred and giggled into the window when the female staff take off the dummy clothes to chaneg for new clothes.

yg said...

peter, thks for all your input. yes, the building now occupied by mdis was the malayan motors, sometimes called the morris motors (you can see the big sign 'morris' in the national archives picture). i remember the hindu temple but cannot remember the rest.
wow! the female staff wore dummy clothes and you all got to watch them change!

yg said...

victor, i had the impression that you were chun see's age. you cannot be considered an oldie, mah.
1965 was my school certificate (equivalent to 'o' level) year.

Anonymous said...

Were the three who died in the MacDonald House bombing Singapore's first victims of terrorism, and not the lawyer who was killed in Mumbai recently as was proclaimed by the local press? If so, it is a pity that local journalists these days don't do their homework.

yg said...

common definitions of terrorism refer only to those acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to a lone attack), and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants
i think by this definition, the macdonald house bombing could be considered an act of terrorism. but, i am also not sure if the three were the first victims of terrorism.

Victor said...

YG, I am only 2 years younger than Chun See. Whether I am considered an oldie or not, well, it depends on what yardstick you use. :)

Icemoon said...

I think the trio - Chun See, Peter, Victor - are exactly a year apart. Chun See attended his BMT in 1971, Peter in 1972, now Victor claimed he is 2 years younger than Chun See which means 1 year younger than Peter?

Icemoon said...

Anonymous is the one who didn't do his homework. The MacDonald bombing was before our independence day. Technically Singapore wasn't even born yet, so the attack wasn't against our sovereign nation. Even our MM (once) believed in "merger and unity of the two territories".

peter said...

Singapore was "1/2 born" in 1959 bcos we got self-independence, remember from the British? Indo bombing took place when Singapore was part of Malaysia. There is a chilling story about the female victim who lived in Tanglin Halt - older generation taxi drivers know the story.

Other bombings in the CBD area included the carpark at Odeon Cinema and Raffles Hotel (present bus stop facing Fairmont Hotel).

"Sala" one more time for me - Progress Motors agent for Renault and Simca. Federal Motors for Volvo.

Icemoon said...

I saw the video of the episode in the Singapore History Gallery and was a bit confused. Apparently the planters were two? commandos from Indonesia. They tried to smoke the police inspector but the latter was smart. Plus the commandos were stupid enough to claim a storm when there wasn't a storm for past one week.

The confusing thing is this - who planted the other bombs? How come they didn't explode and kill people as well?

Victor said...

Alamak, I think I am suffering from old-age related amnesia. I am actually 4 years younger than Chun See and 2 years younger than Peter. :p

The 2 culprits who planted the bomb in Macdonald House were Indonesians. It was during a period they called Konfrontasi (Confrontation). I think they were eventually caught and executed by Singapore.

Icemoon said...

From the video, I learnt the judge actually ruled against the defense that the culprits were POWs, indirectly telling the reader they were soldiers. POW means they can skip the gallows.

Victor said...

Where did you get to see the video, Icemoon? How come I can't find it? Can put the link here?

Icemoon said...

Victor, it is in the Singapore History Gallery, not online.