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A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Jan 30, 2013

City of Singapore

When was Singapore a City before it became a country, our Republic of Singapore?

The population of Singapore in 1961 was 95425 based on 'The Population of Singapore" by Mr Saw Swee Hock (Third Edition) and published by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1 Jun, 2012.

As a British colony, Singapore was conferred city status by a royal charter from King George VI in 1951, when Singapore was then a crown colony of Great Britain. The original Municipal Council was therefore renamed City Council, and the Municipal Building was renamed City Hall.

The City Council of the City of Singapore and the Singapore Rural Board were abolished in 1965.

While the Union Flag flies over the Municipal Building and with Singapore's 50,000 future citizens watching, Governor Sir Franklin Gimson handed to F P F McNiece, President of the Municipality, a shallow red box containing the Royal Charter and Seal thus declaring the Town of Singapore as a City.

This day is known as "CITY DAY"

Transcription/text of Royal City Day Charter by King George VI of Great Britain

George the Sixth, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the seas, King, Defender of the Faith; to all to whom these Presents shall come, Greetings.

Whereas the inhabitants of the Town of Singapore in Our Colony of Singapore are a body corporate by the name and style of the Municipal Commissioners of Singapore; and Whereas We, for divers good causes and considerations Us thereunto moving, are graciously pleased to raise the said Town to the rank of a City.

Now, therefore, know ye that We of Our especial grace and favour and mere motion do by this, Our Royal Charter will, ordain, constitute, declare and appoint that Our said Town shall on the twenty-second day of September in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and fifty-one and forever thereafter be a City, and shall be called and styled THE CITY OF SINGAPORE, instead of the Town of Singapore, and shall thenceforth have all such rank, liberties, privileges and immunities as are incident to a City.

And we do further declare and direct that the Municipal Commissioners of Singapore shall thenceforth be one body corporate by the name and style of THE CITY COUNCIL OF SINGAPORE, with all such powers and privileges as thet would have had as the Municipal Commissioners of Singapore and as if they had been incorporated by the name of the City Council of Singapore.

And further know ye that We, trusting in the discretion, fidelity and care of Our trusty and well beloved Sir Franklin Charles Gimson, Knight Commander of Our Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and saint George, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Our Colony of Singapore, do give and grant by the tenor of these Presents unto the said Sir Franklin Charles Gimson full power in Our name to declare and make known Our Pleasure herein.

 In Witness whereof We have caused these Our letters to be made Patent Witness Ourself at Westminster, the twenty-forth day of July in the fifteenth year of Our Reign.

By warrant under the King's Sign Manual

City Day, 22 September 1951, the Town of Singapore was officially made a City of the British Commonwealth, by an official proclamation of a Royal Charter by King George VI. Singapore City Day festivities began with an official parade, in the presence of 50,000 of her citizens at the Padang.

On the Grandstand Sir Franklin Gimson sat between Malcom MacDonald and T. P. F. McNiece, Sir Charles Murray-Aynsley and Sir Henry Gurney sat on the side of them. Behind in a semi-circle row were the Municipal Commisioners, and behind them the heads of Municipal departments. In the guests' enclosure sat Service Chiefs and dignitaries. The reserved enclosure had notables of Singapore, officials and executives and their wives, leaders of all the city's communities. Children's Day uniformed youngsters were in the front seats and other places of honour to witness the simple but solemn ceremony.

The historic ceremony began when the Governor read a message from the ailing King George VI, which included his "best wishes to the City Council...and to the citizens of Singapore on this notable occasion". This was followed by Sir Franklin's speech on Singapore's historic past, and its aspirations of the future, to which he ended with "I am sure we can all invoke with virile and active confidence in the future, its proud motto, all the prouder today, "Majulah Singapura"' (meaning 'Let Singapore Flourish!')".

Then the archaic wording of the Royal Charter from His Majesty the King, was read to the people by the Chief Justice Sir Charles Murray-Aynsley. Then an A.D.C. handed the Charter to the Governor Sir Franklin Gimson, who said, "On behalf of the King I present to you the Royal Charter and Seal, conferring City Status on the Town of Singapore" and then presented a shallow red box which contained the Royal Charter and Seal, to the President of the Municipality, T. P. F. McNiece. From that moment the call of trumpets heralded the proclamation as McNiece, dressed in his Malayan Civil Service uniform, became Lord President of the City Council, and the Municipal Commissioners of Singapore became the City Council of Singapore.

Festive attractions

The spectators watching at the floats from the Sir Stamford Raffles statue at Victoria Memorial Hall

The event at the flag-bedecked Padang, had all the trimmings of pomp, pageantry and Royal splendour. The city was dressed for the occasion, especially for the night with thousands of light bulbs stringing buildings and illuminating structures.

Many activities were lined up to take place around the island "on the hour" throughout the day. Big attractions were lined up for the evening.

The city was in traffic chaos and jammed everywhere. Thousands of men, women and children in a festive mood, jammed and crammed the streets or seafronts to catch the best angle and action of the three big shows, the Sea Dragon, the fireworks display, and the City Day Procession. At least 1,500 policemen were assigned to control the overwhelming numbers.

The Chinese community ended the day's celebrations with their three mile Chingay-like City Day Procession surpassing any within living memory. Sponsored by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, 10,000 Chinese men, women and children from more than 230 trades, guilds, associations, societies, clubs, schools, presented a five hour show that hundreds of thousand spectators will never forget. Crowds, masses swarmed around Collyer Quay to catch the parade as well as the Sea Dragon. 

 The night parade of about 300 floats, decorated lorries and buses were assembled all the way up to Keppel Harbour in readiness for the start. After a 15 minute delay caused by traffic jams, the procession kicked off at 7.45 pm, at the starting point on Raffles Quay. A dozen colourfully dressed Chinese maidens carrying lanterns led the procession through thick and uncontrollable crowds along the route. When the procession reached the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles, thundering explosions of Chinese crackers ignited by candles, launched the 60 ft long Dragon Dance. With eyes spouting flames, the flowing luminous body danced and pranced to the beat of Chinese drums, gongs and cymbals, before the statue. 

Victoria Memorial Hall was the designated performing platform or staging area for the acts. Commercial organizations and other communities like the Malays and Indians also participated with illuminated and decorated floats that played taped music or had live-band music! The Land Dragon procession took top prize for the Best Exhibit, the Lion with the Royal Crown built by the Teochew Huay Kuan (clan association) of Singapore, was awarded second prize, and third prize to the Model of the Town Hall.

City Day brought together 300,000 people or more, the largest crowd the city had ever seen, and for an event they will long remember.

Vernon Cornelius-Takahama, 2000 (Source: Singapore Infopedia,   An electronic encyclopedia on Singapore's history, culture, people and events).

City Day Celebration at Municipal Building on 22 September, 1951

Inspection by the Guard of Honour

Presentation of "City of Singapore Certificates"

How different are the presentation of the Singapore Citizenship Ceremony today?

Singapore started to hold its first National Citizenship ceremony on Aug 18, 2007 to reinforce the significance of citizenship and to drive home the message that both indigenous and new citizens share a common identity and destiny.

Photo courtesy of Bukit Batok East blog
Note:  The curated and archived photos posted on this blog for educational purposes with the courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore.


Jan 27, 2013

Philatelic Rambling - The Japanese Occupation

Dr Tan Wee Kiat has published a small new stamp-based book with a big title "Philatelic Rambling in Singapore History: The Japanese Occupation 1942-1945" and invited the "Friends of Yesterday" (FOYers) to autograph books for us at Kreta Ayer Food Centre on Sunday 27 Jan 2013, 2.00-3.30pm

His previous books were posted on the blogs here and here .

FOYers Gathering on 27 Jan 2013

Philip Chew meeting Thimbuktu at Kreta Ayer Food Center  (Photo Credit: Lam Chun See)

James Kwok at his favorite fried pig intestine congee at Kreta Ayer Food Center
Connie Tai, President of Kreta Ayer Stamp Society with Wee Kiat's autographed book.
Thimbuktu and Wee Kiat with autographed book (Photo Credit: Lam Chun See)
Char Lee chatting with James Kwok
Philip Chew with Wee Kiat and his autographed book
Unk Dicko with free tips and lessons to Junius Soh on using his new ukele
Wee Kiat signing his new book to present to Soh Kiak's sister at the FOYers gathering
Group photo of the FOYers and friends

Japanese Occupation 

Former Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain in 1941

The Japanese Occupation, widely believed to be the darkest period of Singapore's history, was a trying time for Singaporeans and tested the people's ability to cope in times of adversity.

The Occupation highlighted their adaptability, resourcefulness and resilience, as well as the importance of positive thinking.

The people were forced to adapt quickly to new rules laid down by the Japanese and learn to accord the Japanese soldiers the respect they demanded from them. Problems like food shortages and lack of medical care also took their toll on the people. In order to overcome these problems, the people came up with creative solutions such as food substitutions and home remedies.

During this period, the people did their best to live life as they had in times of peace. Some changes were inevitable, but Singaporeans adapted to them and controlled the situation they were in instead of allowing the situation to control them.

Despite their sufferings, many people did not doubt that the Japanese would eventually be defeated by the British and Singaporeans would once again be able to regain their freedom. The possibility of a better future kept the people cheerful and gave them the determination and will to survive.

Singaporeans also witnessed human nature at its worst and best during the Japanese Occupation. The cruelty of the Japanese towards the people, and the greed of some who took to exploiting their countrymen during the Occupation showed us human nature at its worst. However, there were others who made life enjoyable for others and gave aid whenever possible, sometimes at the expense of their own lives. The POWs and other European civilian internees also showed dignity in the face of defeat, holding their heads high and never giving in to the demands of their Japanese captors.

The Japanese Occupation helped young Singaporeans to mature ahead of their time. Invaluable lessons that the survivors of the Occupation walked away with helped shape the generation of Singaporeans who developed Singapore from a Third World country during independence to become what she is today. Future generations of Singaporeans can also learn from these timeless lessons. Adaptability, resilience and resourcefulness are qualities that can help Singaporeans achieve success on the global stage today and in the future. Positive thinking will also aid the future generations in overcoming their own difficulties as they will not throw in the towel so easily and keep themselves positive in trying times.

These are the lessons that we can learn from the Japanese Occupation of Singapore. The Singapore government has also learnt from this occupation and built up the SAF, a strong defence force that will act as a deterence to any potential aggressors. In Singapore, 15 February is also Total Defence Day, when Singaporeans remember the British surrender and the importance of staying vigilant in order to prevent a repeat of the events that took place on 15 February 1942 and those that followed. (Source: River Valley High School, Singapore).

Related blog topic resources are available  here , here and here .

Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's Political Lessons from the Japanese Occupation of Singapore.

[Quote] In The Singapore Story, Lee Kuan Yew pointedly explains that the three and a half years of Japanese occupation were the most important of my life. They gave me vivid insights into the behaviour of human beings and human societies, their motivations and impulses. My appreciation of governments, my understanding of power as the vehicle for revolutionary change, would not have been gained without this experience.

First of all, he observed "a whole social system" built upon assumptions of British military and cultural superiority "crumble suddenly before an occupying army that was absolutely merciless. The Japanese . . . were hated by almost everyone but everyone knew their power to do harm and so everyone adjusted." People who accepted the Japanese as their new masters prospered, whereas those who did not lost money and status.

Second, he learned that fear of brutal punishment can deter crime:

The Japanese Military Administration governed by spreading fear. It put up no pretence of civilised behaviour. Punishment was so severe that crime was very rare. In the midst of deprivation after the second half of 1944, when the people half-starved, it was amazing how low the crime rate remained. . . . As a result I have never believed those who advocate a soft approach to crime and punishment, claiming that punishment does not reduce crime. That was not my experience in Singapore before the war, during the Japanese occupation or subsequently.

"I learnt more from the three and a half years of Japanese occupation," he states again a few pages later, "than any university could have taught me".

A third lesson, in particular, remained with him his entire life -- that power can make people change their ways of thinking and acting:

I had not yet read Mao's dictum that "power grows out of the barrel of a gun", but I knew that Japanese brutality, Japanese guns, Japanese bayonets and swords, and Japanese terror and torture . . . could make people change their behaviour, even their loyalties.

The Japanese not only demanded and got their obedience; they forced them to adjust to a long-term prospect of Japanese rule, so that they had their children educated to fit the new system, its language, its habits and its values, in order to be useful and make a living.(References Lee Kuan Yew. The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore: Times, 1998). [Unquote]

Lessons from the Japanese Conquest - "Fall of the Fortress" at ThinkQuest, Projects by Students for Students:

[Quote] The sufferings that the people went through during the Japanese occupation also taught the people to see the need to get rid of their foreign masters. In the words of Lee Kuan Yew, who later became the first Prime Minister of Singapore,

"My colleages and I are of that generation of young men who went through the Second World War and the Japanese Occupation and became determined that no one - neither the Japanese nor the British - had the right to push and kick us around. We were determined that we could govern ourselves and bring up our children in a country where we can be a self-respecting people." [Unquote]

SBC 1988 - Diary Of A Nation (Episode 25 - The Japanese Surrender)


Jan 26, 2013

Father of the World Wide Web

Tim Berners-Lee was born in London, England, in 1955. He holds a B.A. in physics from Oxford University (1976).

While working as an independent contractor at the European high-energy physics laboratory (CERN) in 1980, Berners-Lee built a prototype system for document sharing among researchers based on hypertext called ENQUIRE. In 1989, he had a new proposal, written with the help of Robert Cailliau, based on combining hypertext with the Internet, which he called the "World Wide Web." The world's first website, at CERN, went online August 6, 1991.
The Web proposal was based on a system of globally unique identifiers for resources, the HTML publishing language, and the use of HTTP. The turning point came in 1993 with the introduction of the free Mosaic web browser, which allowed images to be displayed alongside text, unlike the other hypertext systems then in existence. That same year, CERN announced that the World Wide Web would be free to everyone.

In 1994, Berners-Lee left CERN and founded the World Wide Web Consortium at MIT, a group of member organizations, including vendors, willing to create standards for the Web. In 2004, he was knighted for his pioneering work.

Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist, invented the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989, while working at CERN. The web was originally conceived and developed to meet the demand for automated information-sharing between scientists in universities and institutes around the world.

A short history of the Web here .
Sir Timothy John "Tim" Berners-Lee, (born 8 June 1955), also known as TimBL, is an English computer scientist, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web. He made a proposal for an information management system in March 1989, and he implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the Internet sometime around mid-November of that same year.

Berners-Lee is the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which oversees the Web's continued development. He is also the founder of the World Wide Web Foundation, and is a senior researcher and holder of the Founders Chair at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). He is a director of the Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI), and a member of the advisory board of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence.

Please watch the YouTube video here .


Jan 20, 2013

Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebrations 2013

Yue Hwa Chinese Products at the corner of Eu Tong Seng Street
Great Southern Hotel at the corner of Eu Tong Sen Street in 1973.

The former Peoples' Park (on the right of the photo) next to Majestic Theatre in 1950.

The Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebrations 2013 Official Light-Up and Opening Ceremony was officially launched by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratname, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance on Saturday, 19 January 2013 at Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road, Singapore.

Presentation of the Singapore Book of Records Certificate for the "Largest Sculpture Made of Sky Lanterns" comprising 850 sky lanterns at South Bridge Road in Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebrations 2013 Street Light-Up.

The refreshing and innovative snake theme street light-up design, conceptualised by 12 undergraduates and four faculty and staff members from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).

The Street Light-up showcases vibrantly coloured lanterns forming snake sculptural structures and illustrations of the 12 animal signs in the Chinese Zodiac on the lanterns.Photo Credit: Chinatown Festivals on Facebook.  Chinese New Year 2013 is the "Year of the Snake".

Photo Credit:  "Chinatown Festivals" on Facebook.

Chinatown is the traditional place in Singapore for Chinese New Year shopping, marketing or just to mingle around for rubbing the shoulders of fellow Singaporeans of all ethnic groups, including foreign visitors and tourists to soak in the cheerful atmosphere, sound, sight, smell, nostalgic memories for the festivities over the centuries.

How is it possible to share with younger Singaporeans to describe in words or visualise the Chinese New Year festivals in Chinatown in the past without "memory-aids" as photos?

With the courtesy of National Archives of Singapore archived photos to share on this blog, the current photos of the same place juxtaposed with archived photos to view the difference. Same, same but different!

From 18 January to 11 March 2013, Chinatown will be enlivened and lit up by Chinese New Year Celebrations. 

Organized by Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens' Consultative Committee, the Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebrations 2013 will showcase an exciting, colourful and vibrant programmed centered on the theme, "Spring of Happiness" -  金蛇迎新春, 花开幸福年.

Please visit the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens Consultative Committee's "Chinatown Festivals" web for more information here .

On this photojournal , follow this personal nostalgia blog as my "mind's eyes" switch from now and then  to visit Chinatown, some of the buildings, shops, and street names remain unchanged.  We can remember and recognise the old, familiar places.

 For the benefit of the first visitors to Chinatown and the younger Singaporeans,  there are some interesting stuff to discover and to learn..  Thanks to the conscientious efforts of the National Heritage Board for conservation of Chinatown, these heritage historical buildings are not demolished.

 The advantages of  elderly Singaporeans who have memories of the best of both worlds - old and new.

New Bridge Road in the above photo.  The photos below of New Bridge Road in 1972 due to change of traffic direction.

Memorable Photos - Thanks for the Memories

Photo Credit:  Delta Avenue Facebook

Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebrations 2013 Official Light-Up and Opening Ceremony

Opening Address by Dr. Lily Neo, Grassroots Adviser and Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC

Highlights of the Programmes

Fireworks Display at Chinatown

It was a rousing finale with bright, colorful and enjoyful completion of the Chinatown Chinese New Year 2013 celebrations...a meaningful and unforgettable evening for everyone.

"Wishing everyone a Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year 2013.  Gong Xi Fa Cai"!"