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Just the other day I came across this Facebook post from FiveStarsAndAMoon and it sparked a surge of curiosity within me.


Why do we have so many places named “___ Chu Kang” in Singapore?!

To many of us Singaporeans, Choa Chu Kang, Yio Chu Kang and Lim Chu Kang all sound like they were named after the same person, but with different surnames. However, “Chu Kang wasn’t the name of a person at all…

Unless you’re talking about a certain “Ah Beng” Contractor who declares himself as the “best in Singapore, JB and some say Batam”.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

Don’t Play Play ah! Okay, let’s get back on track.

The origins of these names find their roots in the Kangchu system adopted by 19th century chinese agricultural settlers in Singapore.

So what is the Kangchu system? the Kangchu system is kind of like an administrative system made up of a collection of villages and plantations that’s usually situated around the mouths of rivers.

Photo Credits:
Photo Credits:

Back then, the dominant clan in each village held the title of Kangchu 港主(which means lord of the river), and their respective areas were marked with their clan names, which eventually resulted in the modern-day names of three of Singapore’s well-known districts.

As you would’ve guessed, Yio Chu Kang was controlled by the Yio clan, Lim Chu Kang by the Lim clan and Choa Chu Kang by the Choa clan. These were the only three that found a permanent place in our progressive society. Chan Chu Kang which was situated around Yishun, later became Nee Soon Village while Tan Chu Kang and Lau Chu Kang became relics of the past.

So, here you go! Mystery solved!