Byron Koh Uses Walking Tours To Rekindle Our Love For Singapore
STORY: Sim Ding En
24 December 2019
Byron Koh has a niggling fear that involves a tragic scenario of Singaporeans one day leaving Singapore because they no longer feel it's home.
In fact, it was so strong, he started Lion Heartlanders, an initiative that offers guided walking tours around Singapore, in the hopes of getting people more interested and invested in home.
Ironically, Byron's bugbear began in his previous life as an air warfare office in the RSAF (Republic of Singapore Air Force). He is pictured below, second from left.
As an air warfare officer, he used to control and guide aircraft, and was in the force for nine years.
"I was also in charge of the national education programmes within my unit," says the 32-year-old. "And I thought, how can I engage the younger soldiers and get them more interested in Singapore and Singapore’s history? Because they need to know what they're defending, to have a purpose being in the force.
"I wanted these boys to leave NS feeling proud of Singapore and to have a sense of purpose in defending the country. So I came up with the idea of interactive trails for them to try out, and it seemed like they were really engaged at each site."
When he left the RSAF, Byron's passion to inspire love of country remained, but was transferred from soldier to fellow countryman.
And that is how Lion Heartlanders kicked off in August 2018.
"I started Lion Heartlanders to inspire Singaporeans to love Singapore," says Byron, whose enterprise now offeres guided walking tours as well as interactive trails that take participants around Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam among other locations.
In the process, countrymen get acquainted with their homeland through fun facts and by walking the routes of their forefathers.
One can also learn more about other religions in Singapore. For instance, get to know your Sikh neighbours better:
Or get a guided tour of the Masjid Darul Ghufran, Tampines Chinese Temple and Baha’i Centre, structures that you might pass by every day but know little about:
"History is full of stories and stories are always told to brighten up people’s day or to give a certain kind of experience that you cannot get because you are not living in the past," says Byron. "The only way for us to appreciate what we have today is to know what we didn’t have before, or to look around and see how far we’ve come."
Familiarity breeds contempt, so the saying goes.
But judging by the zeal and efforts of this man, we think familiarity won't breed contempt but affinity instead.