From ”Is there an MRT station named after a prominent Indian Singaporean?’, 5 Aug 2011, ST Forum
(MR DANNY CHUE):…Is there an MRT station here named after a prominent Indian Singaporean? At the start of the Japanese Occupation, Lim Boon Keng represented the Chinese community at the Syonan Memorial and Srish Chandra Goho, better known as S.C. Goho, represented the Indian community in Singapore in a ceremony in which all four main communities were represented. A road and an MRT station have been named after Lim, but none after Goho, which is a glaring omission. As well as a community leader as the president of the Singapore Indian Association, and a lawyer, Goho was an independent candidate who became one of the first of six elected legislative councillors in Singapore. He was also the legal adviser to the Singapore Traction Company’s Employees Union and had fought for the interests of bus employees. Perhaps a bus interchange should also be named after him.
There’s a Boon Keng and a Tan Kah Kee station, and others that sound like the names of prominent Chinese (Yio Chu Kang, Choa Chu Kang, Yew Tee), but no, there aren’t any MRT stations named after famous Indians. There are, however, references to Indians, like Dhoby Ghaut (washing place in Hindi) and, of course, Little India. Our Malay MRT stations include the two Bukits (Batok and Gombak), Tanjong Pagar (cape of stakes) and Telok Blangah (cooking pot bay), all names to remind us of our humble, rural origins or hilly places, but not dignitaries of the respective races. When it comes to public buildings, although there’s the S Rajaratnam School of International studies at NTU, this is but one Indian- named building among a smattering of many others named after famous Chinese, public hospitals especially (Tan Tock Seng, Khoo Teck Puat, Ng Teng Fong).
S C Goho isn’t exactly a household name, but other than his involvement in politics and buses, he was somewhat of a saviour of fellow Indians during the War, setting up the Indian Passive Defence which put 25,000 Indians under its care (Mr S C Goho dies in Calcutta, 26 July 1948, ST). According to the complainant, he doesn’t even have a road named after him, not to mention a bus interchange, the latter a consolation prize compared to having his heroic contributions to the nation commemorated in the form of an MRT station. Bus depots are constantly shifting locations, and are fast disappearing as distinct entities, being incorporated gradually into mega malls or engulfed by MRT stations themselves, which makes the writer’s suggestion as useful as naming this man after the largest cloud in the sky.
Even Indian poet and Nobel Prize for Literature winner Dr Rabindranath Tagore has a package of roads named after him: ‘Tagore Lane, Drive, Road and Industrial Avenue’, when he was really more of a global celebrity who popped by for a visit in the 1930s rather than a pioneer who got his hands dirty for Singapore, as was what I initially thought (Glimpses of Tagore’s paintings, 30 March 1984, ST). It’s like the modern equivalent of naming our roads after the Dalai Lama. As a lawyer it would probably make sense to name S C Goho after a Law school, instead of a amenity most commuters associate with long queues, noxious fumes, noisy chugging engines, blaring horns, smelly staff canteens and dustbins overflowing with cigarette butts. But first, to the history textbooks.