Four decades of memories

Four decades of memories

SINGAPORE - Orchard Road has changed dramatically in the 40 years that he has worked in the area.

Back then, there was no Wheelock Place or Ngee Ann City, no Marriott Hotel or Far East Plaza.

Instead of ION Orchard, there was Orchard Police Station. And Lido was just a single movie hall.

In 1974, Mr Mohamed Ibrahim Mohd Ya'acob was 19 when he got his first job as a waiter at the newly opened Holiday Inn Hotel Singapore on Scotts Road.

Four decades later, he is among the long-serving employees of the hotel, now known as Royal Plaza on Scotts.

The long-serving staff were feted by their bosses as part of the hotel's anniversary celebrations yesterday.

Together with their families, they were treated to a dinner prepared and served by their department heads.

Mr Ibrahim, 59, said: "The hotel is still in the same spot, but all our neighbours have changed. Metro used to be right next to us, with a bowling alley on the top floor.

"The street right outside used to only have two lanes. Today, it's expanded because there are more people on the roads."

Mr Ibrahim has moved from being a waiter to becoming head concierge.

Today, he has 26 doormen, porters and other concierges reporting to him.

His duty as a concierge is to listen to what the guests want and to give as much help and information to them as possible, Mr Ibrahim said.


"As long as what the guest wants is legal and moral," he added with a laugh.

A father of four adult children, he recalled a simpler time where calls had to be made through a telephone operator and the hotel's guest list had to be manually typed and compiled into a "name rack".

"Now we've got all this integrated technology, you just type in a name and it comes out instantly," he said.

His long-time friend, Mr Lee Kwong Wong, 62, has also been with the hotel for 40 years.

Mr Lee, who has three children and five grandchildren, started out as a electrician at the hotel.

He is now an engineering supervisor in charge of about 20 technicians who are responsible for maintaining the plumbing system, lighting, and gas.

Mr Lee, Mr Ibrahim and some colleagues meet for meals and football or badminton on their days off.

Over the years, Mr Lee has seen the hotel go through many aesthetic changes. But he said the hotel staff still remain like a family.

Mr Lee said: "Everything changes, so we need to accept the changes and move with the times. Our jobs have changed, even the uniforms we wear have changed."

His department head, chief engineer Liew Pin Pong, 43, did the plating for last night's dinner.

Mr Liew said: "(The dinner) expresses our gratitude and appreciation for these individuals who have contributed to the success of the hotel."

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