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Hong Lim Park (Malay: Taman Hong Lim, 芳林公园; 芳林公園; Fānglín Gōngyuán), formerly Hong Lim Green and Dunman's Green, is a 0.94 hectare heritage park in Singapore located next to Clarke Quay MRT station. It is "the only venue in Singapore where public protests are allowed".[1]


Dunman's Green was one of the earliest public parks in Singapore,[2] it was named after the first Superintendent of Police Thomas Dunman who retired in 1871. In 1876, it was renamed Hong Lim Green in honour of Cheang Hong Lim (章芳林; Zhāng Fāng Lín), a wealthy Chinese Hokkien businessman and philanthropist who bought and donated the land to the government.

File:KITLV - 50214 - Lambert & Co., G.R. - Singapore - Police Court in Singapore - circa 1900.jpg

Police Courts (right), known as the Criminal District and Magistrates' Courts at Hong Lim Green, Singapore, demolished in 1975

In 1885, a Mansard roofed Police Courts building known as the Criminal District and Magistrates' Courts, was built on the grounds of the park. The North Canal Road Post Office was also built in the area, which was situated closer to North Canal Road, while the Police Courts building was situated closer to South Bridge Road. The first Straits Chinese Recreation Club clubhouse was built at the centre of the park, an octagonal pavilion designed by H.D. Richards, was officially opened to members by Chinese consul Tso Ping Lung on 2 July 1887.[3] In 1914, the original clubhouse was demolished for the construction of a new pavilion which had improved lighting and facilities, with its entrance facing New Bridge Road.

Hong Lim Green would start its first storytelling tradition during the Japanese occupation of Singapore in the 1940s. After the war, it was used as a cricket ground by members of the Singapore Chinese Recreation Club and the Singapore Cricket Club, and was also the venue for many of the first political speeches and election rallies in the 1950s and 1960s.[4] When the Singapore Chinese Recreation Club vacated the premises in 31 July 1959 and moved to Shenton Way, the demolition of its former clubhouse began the following day to make way for new developments.[5]

Hong Lim Green was refurbished by the City Council of Singapore with a new grass turf, a sand-filled children’s playground, a fountain, park facilities, and an open-air theatre built at a cost of S$173,000. It was renamed Hong Lim Park and officially reopened by S. Rajaratnam on 23 April 1960.[6]

The following day, the Telok Ayer Hong Lim Green Community Centre, which was behind the open-air theatre, was officially opened by Dr Goh Keng Swee.[7] The storytelling tradition was resumed and Chinese operas were performed at the theatre from the 1960s to 1970s. The park had also became an attractive location for cultural shows, outdoor movie screenings and election rallies once again from the 1960s to the 1970s. In 2005, the Hong Lim Park open stage was refurbished to incorporate a modern-looking pure Teflon tentage that preserved the historical stage layout of the 1950s.[8]

The Criminal, District and Magistrates' Courts on 13 September 1975, viewed from South Bridge Road. Hong Lim Park lies behind the building. Photo credit: National Archives of Singapore.

The Criminal District and Magistrates' Courts, which had remained at the park for 90 years, was demolished soon after the Subordinate Courts opened on 15 September 1975. In its place was erected the two-storey Hong Lim Shopping Centre which stood for a decade before it too was demolished in 1985. The site is currently an empty field with a toilet facility to its right. The park's playground had since been removed, probably to deter gay cruising at night.
The former North Canal Post Office was converted into the Kreta Ayer Neighbourhood Police Post in the late 1980s, and later also served as a registration centre for anyone who wished to give speeches or hold events at Speakers' Corner when the latter was incorporated in September 2000.

Speakers' Corner[]

Main article: Speakers' Corner, Singapore

Hong Lim Park was selected by the Government as the venue for Speakers' Corner on 1 September 2000. Since then, it is the only place in Singapore where one can legally stage public protests. In early 2013, two protests against the Government's immigration policies each drew more than 350 people, and in June 2014, about 20 people protested against the Central Provident Fund (CPF), Singapore's state-run pension fund.



The park is bounded by North Canal Road, South Bridge Road, Upper Pickering Street and New Bridge Road. Telok Ayer Hong Lim Green Community Centre and the Kreta Ayer Neighbourhood Police Post lie adjacent to the park.

Getting there[]

By bus:

  • Bus services 186, 568, 575, 588, 599, 723, 735 and 970 are available at Upper Pickering Street.
  • Bus services 2, 12, 33, 54, 147, 190 and 767 are available at New Bridge Road.
  • Bus services 2, 12, 33, 51, 61, 63, 80, 174, 174e, 197, 961 and 961M are available at Eu Tong Sen Street at Exit A of Clarke Quay MRT station.

By Clarke Quay MRT station

See also[]


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External links[]