Home to around 289 thousand residents, Bedok is the largest planning area in Singapore. ‘Bedok’ springs from the Malay word for ‘drum’, spelt ‘bedoh’ with the ‘h’ pronounced like ‘k’. The drum was used during the ‘pre-loudspeaker’ era at the mosque as a call to Muslims for prayer time, and to deliver important announcements or messages to nearby residents. As a part of the Tanah Merah region, Bedok’s history is largely shaped by its coastal frontier.
After the country was colonized by the British in 1819, Bedok became a mixed community consisting of Chinese and Malay ethnicities. Bedok once mainly got its income from trading coconuts in Siglap subzone plantations. Fishing was also another primary source of income for the villagers of Bedok. Modernization of Bedok only began around 1966, when land reclamation along the coastal area began. In about a decade after, Bedok was transformed into the country’s fifth self-contained new town, with the first wave of residential flats turning up as early as 1975. Bedok was also bolstered with a new hawker centre and a town plaza for locals and tourists to enjoy. As of 2020, there are a total of 10 major hawker centres as venues for very affordable local street food.