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Nov 18, 2016

Visit of Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip to Queenstown Singapore in 1965


His Royal Highness Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip waving to the residents from the roof-top of a block of HDB flat in Queenstown during his visit to Singapore in 1965.

This photo journal blog is posted with archived photos as the "memory aids" with the courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore.

Prince Philip visited the See family in their HDB flat at Queenstown during his state visit to Singapore on 19 February, 1965.


A group photograph of Duke of Edinburge Prince Philip and Yang Di-Pertuan Yusof Ishak with the See family on 19 February, 1965 - with nostalgic memories from the family album to reminisce.



The See family bid a fond farewell to Prince Philip, the Yang Di-Pertuan Negara Yusof Ishak and the distinguished guests after the visit to their home.

Please join the guided tour of "My Queenstown Heritage Trail" to recount the story of Queenstown and visit the iconic landmarks which define the Queenstown skyline for the past 60 years.  More information available here.

Briefing for Prince Philip by the Housing & Development Board (HDB)

Before the visit to the See family in Queenstown, Prince Philip was briefed by Minister for National Development Lim Kim San at the HDB Headquarters at Princess House in Alexandra Road.  Also present was Yang Di-Pertuan Yusof Ishak and the invited distinguished guests.



Background of Public Housing in Singapore

Public housing in Singapore generally comprises high-density, highrise developments, mostly located in the suburban area.  The majority of public housing estates are self-contained communities with not only the essential facilities to meet the residents' basic needs but also various community amenities such as schools and recreational facilities.  The larger estates are called new towns.

History 

Singapore's first new town, Queenstown, was initiated by SIT in the 1950s but has been developed mostly by HDB.  The second new town, Toa Payoh, was the first to be developed entirely by HDB.
In 1918, the colonial government set up a housing commission to review the living conditions in the central area of Singapore.

The SIT was formed following the recommendations of the commission and started function in 1920 with the recruitment of Captain Edwin Percy Richards as deputy chairman.  However, SIT was not constituted as a legal entity until the Singapore Improvement Ordinance was passed in 1927.

Although Singapore was facing an acute housing shortage at the time, SIT was not given the authority to build housing for the people except for those left homeless by its improvement schemes. It was only in 1932 that SIT was given more powers to undertake building projects.

One of ts earliest projects was the Tiong Bahru housing estate which is regarded as the first public housing estate of Singapore.  However, SIT's building efforts were far from adequate to meet the needs of the fast-growing population and the housing situation worsened, especially after the Pacific War of the 1940s.

By the time Singapore attained self-government in 1959, the housing shortage and its related problems such as overcrowding and squatter colonies had reached alarming proportions.

Public housing for the lower-income groups was thus given top priority and HDB was set up by February 1960 to replace SIT.  This marked the beginning of large-scale public housing development in Singapore.  Compared to the cramped and unhygienic living conditions in shophouses and squatter areas, flats built by HDB seemed luxurious - they were spacious and equipped with basic services such as electricity, flush toilets and piped water.  By 31 March 1976, more than 50 percent of the population was living in HDB flats, a significant improvement from the 8.8 percent living in SIT flats in 1959.   (Source:  Excerpt from Singapore Infopedia, National Library Board).

The chronological story (then and now) of the Housing ; Development Board is told here .

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