Building On The Past (饮水思源)

by Patrick Liew on February 20, 2017

The Authorities should consider ways to revive Sungei Road as a “living” heritage site to anchor the values that contributed to our progress as a nation.

Growing up in a poor family, I joined many others to work in Sungei Road and other places to stay alive and earn additional pocket money.

Sungei Road is a good reminder of the stark contrast between the lifestyle of the past and that of the relatively comfortable life that we have today.

A reminder about how tough our forefathers had to sacrifice, work hard, and improve to contribute to our nation-building process.

At that point, although all of were hawking simple and second-hand wares in dinghy stalls and on floor mats, all of us had a dream for a better day and for a better life.

In a bigger picture, it was the worthwhile dreams uniting our people and galvanising and channeling their talents and energies that transformed Singapore from being a third world to a first-world nation.

History has taught us that when the people have a dream, they will rise up and beat a pathway to make the dream come true.

Besides having proper entrepreneurs, Sungei Road was also a flea market for petty thieves, pickpockets, and purse-snatchers.

It may be hard for our younger generation to imagine how vulnerable and dangerous Singapore was in the past.

How difficult it was to transform ourselves into a relatively low-crime and corruption-free society today.

Just as importantly, it was in Sungei Road and such places that we realized nobody owes us a living.

A good run in the business is no assurance that the business will continue to be stable, secure and sustainable.

Customers will only be friendly and loyal to us until they find a better vendor.

In the same way, Singapore must never lose our sense of healthy paranoia and positive desperation to survive and fight for a better future.

Sungei Road can remind us to build on the fighting spirit and constant pursuit of progress that is manifested in the lives of the entrepreneurs working there in the past.

Without building on the past, having a purposeful dream, developing a healthy environment, and fighting for a better life, our Little Red Dot may eventually be decimated and destroyed.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Please ‘Like’ me on

Please visit my website,

Follow me on:

Visit my Inspiration blog at

For my opinions on social affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at

Let’s connect on
– via @patrickliewsg
– via @patrickliew77

My LinkedIn

Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


Powered by Facebook Comments

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: