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Fri 04 Nov 2005

How Bukit Timah got its name

Category : nature

In 2002, Joseph Lai at al. wrote "Tree of Time?" (Changi Heritage webpage, 2002) after they conducted a tree survey of Changi. In that article, he identified Hopea sangal as a candidate for the tree that gave Changi its name.

Now Joseph is feeling elated and jubilant! He lays claim to the solution of how did Bukit Timah was named in "Temak's Legitimacy Out of The Woods.".

"For as many years as one can remember, the root word for 'Timah' had been tossed up in speculation between two possible Malay words -- 'timah' for tin, or 'temak' for Shorea roxburghii. But none of these were found to be satisfactory; for no tin had ever been found on Bukit Timah Hill, and neither had any Shorea roxburghii trees been recorded for Singapore Island as well."

"Temak's legitimacy actually lies in one of the annal of botanical records for Malaya ... 'The Malayan Forest Records - No.5; Malayan Plant Names, J.G. Watson, 1928'; both Shorea macroptera and Shorea bracteolata were recorded as 'Temak' here."

"... it would be safe to assume that the recorded name 'temak' was correctly applied. If so, then any of these two trees present on Bukit Timah could have given their name to the hill. And since both species can also found in the rain forest of Singapore Botanic Gardens, it is quite logically followed that the entire Bukit Timah district got its name from 'temak' as well!"

Source: "Temak's Legitimacy Out of The Woods." By Joseph Lai. Earth , 4 Nov 2005.

Posted at 11:40PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email | Raffles Museum news