Tampoi's fruity origin
Tampoi drawas derisive jokes from those out of town as it is home to Permai Psychiatric Hospital, a mental asylum. -NST
OUTSIDERS love making fun of Tampoi, a suburb of Johor Baru which is just 9.6km from Woodlands New Town in Singapore.
But the locals are adamant there is nothing to be ashamed of.
While those who have just moved in would try their best to avoid putting Tampoi in their mailing address, the locals would proudly announce that they are from Tampoi.
Why is Tampoi the target of derisive jokes from those out of town?
The reason - it is home to Permai Psychiatric Hospital, a mental asylum built in 1915, said to be the first such hospital in Johor.
The hospital is an example of fine colonial institutional architecture.
It was popularly known as the 3rd Mile Mental Asylum owing to its location, with fewer than 100 patients at that time. Then, in 1929, the name was changed to the Lunatic Asylum.
Seven years later, the hospital was shifted to its current grounds in Tampoi. The construction of the hospital's new building in Tampoi, known as the Johor Mental Hospital, was completed at a cost of RM1,618,100 (S$690,119).
Its name was later changed to Hospital Permai in 1972 by the then health minister Tun Sardon Jubir.
The hospital used to be the military headquarters of the Japanese army during their occupation.
"When I first moved here after getting married, I heard a lot of stories about the hospital and its inmates.
"No matter what people say, I don't have any problems with the presence of the hospital," Khadijah Hamidon, 59, said.
The younger generation also values the importance of the hospital.
"I think it is really silly for people to make fun of the townsfolk or the hospital as this hospital is a very important part of history," said 17- year-old Nadine Angela Sabapathy.
Nadine's twin, Sabine, could not agree more.
"I think people should stop their silly assumptions about people from Tampoi.
"With the stresses of modern living and the pressures faced by people, a hospital such as the one in Tampoi offers hope," said Sabine, who aspires to be a paediatrician.
Ahmad Sakirin, 29, who moved in only recently from Kelantan, is not the least bothered by the presence of the hospital.
"Tampoi is a beautiful town. It is very comfortable. There is a good public transportation system, markets, malls and hypermarkets. Everything is within reach," the construction worker said.
It may not be as busy as Bangsar or Damansara in Kuala Lumpur, or any other towns and cities in the country, but any regular "orang Tampoi" would be able to tell you that the town has almost everything that is necessary. Indeed, one won't be bored in Tampoi.
How did the town get its name? Ask the locals and they will happily share the story.
Apparently, the name came from the tampoi trees which were found all over then. However, most of them have been felled to make way for development.
The edible buah tampoi, which is similar to the duku, can still be found in Seri Medan, Batu Pahat.
Muhammad Salleh Perang, the then Datuk Bentara Luar of Johor, who was Johor's developmental architect, originally spelt Tampoi as "Tampoy".
In 1911, it became officially known as Tampoi.
The town has definitely come a long way. It now has many light industries and is an idyllic retreat for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
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