Punggol, or Ponggol, is a neighbourhood in northeastern Singapore. Presently, there are plans to turn the area into a residential new town (Punggol New Town) under the Punggol 21 initiative which has begun taking place in the southern parts of the area bordering the neighbouring Sengkang New Town.
Punggol Point or Tanjong Punggol appears as Tanjong Rangon on Franklin and Jackson's 1828 map of Singapore. Punggol, also spelt as Ponggol, means "hurling sticks at the branches of fruit trees to bring them down to the ground" in Malay. It might also indirectly refer to the Tamil word "பொங்கல்" or Pongal, a festival celebrated by Tamil Hindus on the first date of the month Thai and also a sweet made specially on that day.
The name Punggol is used in Punggol Road, Punggol New Town and its nearby facilities. The older name Ponggol is still retained in two of the street names: Ponggol Seventeenth Avenue and Ponggol Twenty-Fourth Avenue.
The Punggol area used to be a well-established rural district dotted with farmhouses and farm structures, which were serviced by roads and dirt tracks. Many of the Chinese villagers were engaged in poultry, pig or fish farming, as well as plantation and farm produce. The last pig farm closed down in 1990. Hydroponic non-pollutive vegetable farms and orchid farms used to flourish along the Cheng Lim Farmways and Buangkok Farmways, along with old kampongs and low-rise residential areas. Most of these farms have given way to the high-rise HDB flats of Sengkang New Town and Punggol New Town.
Historically, Punggol was populated mostly by Teochews and Catholics. The end of Upper Serangoon Road is known to Teochews as kangkar or "river bank" or "river mouth". Ferries were used on the Serangoon River as transport. An old market was also located here. The Catholic missionaries arrived here 140 years ago and set up churches and schools. A Malay kampong, which has since been cleared, could also be found at Tanjong Punggol. At the end of Punggol Port Road, Indonesian and Malaysian fishermen auctioned their catch at the wholesale fish market.
During the Second World War in 1942, about 400 Chinese civilians were massacred by the Japanese military forces at Punggol Point, the northern tip of the area, in what was to be known as the Punggol Beach Massacre as part of the Sook Ching Massacre. Today, that location has been marked as a national heritage site.
2) Victor R Savage, Brenda S A Yeoh (2003), Toponymics - A Study of Singapore Street Names, Eastern Universities Press, ISBN 981-210-205-1
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