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Monthly Photos June 2014

Photos taken by ILCAA staff and associates are posted here once a month; most of them are taken during their field research in Asia and Africa.

(The copyright belongs to the photographers.)

Road Names of Burmese origin in Singapore

The name “Prome Road” written on the waymark must be popular to those who visit Myanmar, especially Yangon. Prome is the former name of Pyay, a city facing Ayeyarwaddy (Irawaddy) River in Central Myanmar, and the road named after the city is one of the main roads in Yangon.

However, the picture does not look like neither Yangon nor Prome. I took the photo in Balestier, a district north of Singapore’s Central Business District. But the name “Prome Road” is not a mere coincidence either. There are not a few roads named after place names in Myanmar in the area between MRT Novena station and Balestier Rd. When I was on the way to a famous Hainanese chicken rice restaurant, I was astonished to see “Bassein Rd.” (after the capital of Ayeyarwaddy Region, south Myanmar) and looked around carefully before and after the meal. It’s all there; Akyab (the former name of Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State), Mandalay (as you may know, the second largest city of Myanmar), Minbu, Martaban (an old principal trade port), Pegu (Bago, the capital of Bago division; also the capital of old Hanthawaddy Kingdom of Mon), Bhamo (it is amazing that there is even the name of a city in southern Kachin State), and Moulemein (the capital of Mon State). Beside city names, I found also Shan Rd. (an ethnic group in Myanmar) and Irawaddy Rd. (Incidentally, there is 'Burmah Road' in Little India of Singapore. The spelling is rather ’Indic’.) It is rather strange that names such as Rangoon (Yangon) and Pagan (Bagan) are missing here.

It is obvious that the names are chosen purposely. I watched a map and found that there is a Burmese Buddhist Temple built in the end of 19th century in Novena. There must be the relation between the Burmese temple and the road names above. Perhaps this area might have been Burmese town formerly though I could see no human figure who seemed Burmese, nor I could hear Burmese sound.

26 NOV 2013
Prome Road, Balestier, Singapore
Photograph by Hideo SAWADA

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