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Home > About TTSH > Heritage > Your Story, Our History > The Story of Or Sai


The Communicable Disease Centre (CDC) may not ring a bell for many taxi drivers. 

But chances are, if you mention "or sai", which means black lion in Hokkien, they will probably know the location you are referring to!

The Communicable Disease Centre was first named the Government Infectious Disease Camp and built along Balestier Road. However, it was postulated that the black lions only became part of the compound in 1913 when it was relocated to Moulmein Road.


Here are some of the speculations we gathered:

  1. In the early 1900s when the CDC was first built, staff would live in the quarters situated onsite, which only has a single entry and exit point. Hence, some said that the black lions kept a watchful eye and act as a guardian and protector of the compound.
  2. Another theory suggests that the black lions have its roots in our colonial past! The emblem may have been borrowed from the crest of the Singapore Municipal Commission (later renamed City Council) which was in charge of Singapore's health services then.


As we celebrate the groundbreaking of the new National Centre for Infectious Diseases, let's not forget the rich heritage and history of the Communicable Disease Centre!

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