Don’t Worry Be Happy petrol kiosk in Tampines closes
A petrol kiosk in Tampines that provided the backdrop for the popular 90s local sitcom Don’t Worry Be Happy shuttered on Tuesday.
The Television Corporation of Singapore series, which was the first Singapore-produced Mandarin sitcom, revolved around a family who runs an Esso gas station.
The Tampines Avenue 7 petrol station’s closure on Sept 27 sparked pleas from Singaporeans and Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng for a tiger statue outside the station – an icon for ExxonMobil’s Esso – to be retained as a memento.
Mr Baey told The Straits Times that the idea to keep the statue, which holds a special place in the hearts of those living there as well as fans of the sitcom released in 1996, came from a resident who lamented the loss of the station.
“Residents do talk about how proud they are of their estate being featured in the sitcom… So we would like to see if ExxonMobil is open to gifting the statue, which has become more than a commercial mascot,” he added. “I’ve definitely watched the long-running series. At the time, we didn’t have much Internet so the main pastime was watching TV.”
Mr Baey said a proposal for the upcoming Neighbourhood Renewal Programme to revamp the area also features a marker for Tampines North Zone 7 with the phrase “Don’t Worry Be Happy” as an homage to the show.
Mr Baey added that when the marker is completed in one to two years, he plans to invite the series’ lead actor Chew Chor Meng, whom many residents still remember, to a ceremony to unveil the sign.
Engineer Ronnie Teo, 39, who grew up near the petrol kiosk for about 30 years, recalled how having the neighbourhood featured was an emblem of pride for Tampines residents, just like how a Housing Board estate in Bishan became known as the setting for the first locally produced sitcom Under One Roof.
“Every time the show featured the petrol kiosk, there would be a short video of its exterior. Back then, it was special to say hey, this one is my house area,” he said.
The tiger statue served also as a landmark for Mr Teo when meeting with friends.
“During my secondary school days, I would always say look for the tiger statue when I met my friend near the bus stop… I think it will be good to keep the statue with the new marker, after all the tiger has been there for a very long time.”
Responding to queries from The Straits Times, ExxonMobil Asia Pacific retail fuels sales manager Tan Wei Ling said on Friday that the company is evaluating options to find the statue a new home.
“We are touched by the deep attachment that the community has for the station and our Esso Tiger,” she said.
The lease for the service station, which has served customers for more than 30 years, has expired and another company will be taking over, Ms Tan said, adding that customers can go to the nearby Esso service station in Tampines Avenue 9.
Don’t Worry Be Happy, which ran for six seasons, had a light touch into serious issues that the average Singaporean could relate to, such as the high cost of car ownership, the dilemmas faced by a working mother and marital problems.
Performing scenes of the show before a live audience at every recording was also a first for the Channel 8 cast.