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Not So Malu

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While ‘Avenue 5’ and ‘Street 11’ seem to be obvious road names for neat and orderly Singapore, the Lion City sometimes displays a sense of humour in the road nomenclature department.

These unusual street names will have you either laughing or grimacing. They’ll certainly make more of an impression than street names like ‘Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5’ or ‘Hougang Street 11’.


Malu is Malay for ‘to be shy or ashamed’. Why this road, off Sembawang Road, was given this name remains a mystery, but one can only imagine the embarrassment that trails residents of properties in this area whenever they have to tell someone where they reside! 

Image credit: Foursquare

If you thought living on a road named Jalan Malu-Malu was shameful enough, how about living on Kay Poh Road? People who live on this road, off River Valley Road, are likely to be derided for being unable to keep secrets, as ‘kay poh’ is Singlish for ‘busybody’. Prying neighbours may or may not be an issue in this neighbourhood but, jokes apart, the road was actually named for Wee Kay Poh, a Hokkien businessman who, among other things, was managing partner of the Singapore Opium and Liquor Farm from 1907–1909. He later went on to make a name for himself as the boss of his own opium and liquor business.

Image credit: 99.Co

The name of this road may draw a knowing smirk or two from National Servicemen as Cheow Keng sounds similar to ‘chow keng’, which is Hokkien for ‘malingering’. The road is actually named after Wee Cheow Keng, who was a leader in the Hainanese community. He, however, was no malingerer, having once been a director of Sze Hai Tong Bank, a subsidiary of OCBC Bank.

Image credit: flickr

With a name like this, you may wonder if this is where caning is regularly carried out. ‘Rotan’, after all, is the colloquial term for rattan canes. But, no, the lane was so named for the cane-producing factory located in adjacent Chander Road.

A mix of Malay and Hokkien, Lorong Lew Lian literally means Durian Lane. One assumes that only durian lovers inhabited this area. In truth, it is most likely named for the durian plantations that used to populate the vicinity.

Single ladies may be tempted to make a trip to this road in search of a swain. Unfortunately, it is likely to be in vain. Jests aside, the road, located in Katong, was in fact named after Aubrey Goodman, who served as the Attorney-General of the Straits Settlements and a judge in Malaya.



Looking to settle a disagreement? This may be the place to do it… or maybe not! Makepeace Road is named after Walter Makepeace, who was a journalist and editor of the Singapore Free Press. He also co-edited the official history of Singapore, One Hundred Years of Singapore in 1919.

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