(Images and illustrations may be available when you place your cursor over the record title.)
First Local Record With An International Label
The Crescendos were the very first Singapore group to sign a recording contract with an international record label, Philips, in 1963. The group was fronted by Susan Lim, who was described as Singapore’s first local superstar. The other members were John Chee, Raymond Ho and Leslie Chia.
Most Successful Pop Group
The Quests were very popular in Singapore and the region in the 1960s. The original team started with Raymond Leong, Jap Chong, Henry Chua and Lim Wee Guan. They were the first to record in English, Chinese and Malay. In their heyday, their records sold between 20,000 and 30,000 units. They were famous regionally and were mobbed by fans from East Malaysia to Hong Kong. But after four albums and over 30 singles and EPs, the group disbanded in 1971.
First Local Original To Top Local Charts
Shanty, written by The Quests’ bassist, Henry Chua, was the first original pop composition to hit No. 1 on the Singapore charts. It was recorded by EMI in 1964.
First Singer Featured On The Oprah Show
Julia Abueva impressed Oprah Winfrey with her singing video performance so much that she was selected for the episode, Oprah’s Search for the World’s Smartest and Most Talented Kids in Nov 2008. Winfrey introduced her, ‘Her name is Julia, she’s 12 years old, she’s from Singapore, and she knocked our socks off, so listen to her!’
First Local Album Recorded In Stereo
The Quests released Questing in 1966. It was recorded at EMI’s studio at MacDonald House. It featured the line up of Vernon Cornelius, Reggie Verghese, Jap Chong, Henry Chua and Lim Wee Guan.
First Singer To Top Taiwanese Charts
Maggie Theng was the first Singaporean to break into the competitive Taiwanese industry. In 1981, Theng topped the Taiwanese charts with Qian Yin. The album sold more than 200,000 copies. Theng has cut more than 50 albums, including one each in English, Bahasa Indonesia and Thai.
Best Known Yodeller
Sakura Teng launched her music career at age 17. During her heyday in the 1960s and 1970s, the A Go-Go Queen, as she was nicknamed, cut more than 50 records and was best known for her yodelling.
Fastest Selling Chinese Album
In Apr 2006, JJ Lin’s (Lim Jun Jie) fourth album Cao Cao sold two million copies within two weeks of its release. Within three years of his singing career, Lin has won more than 25 awards in Singapore, Taiwan and China.
Most CDs Consecutively Signed by An Artiste
JJ Lin secured a world record in Tianjin on 22 Jul 2007. Lin signed 3,052 of his latest album West Side in 2 hr 29 min at a Tianjin shopping mall. In doing so, he smashed the previous record of 2,852 autographs in eight hours. Lin’s CD was published by Ocean Butterflies Music.
First Cantonese EP Released In Hong Kong
Mavis Hee, who was a contestant in 1992 Miss Chinatown Contest, became the first Singaporean singer to release a self-titled Cantonese EP in Hong Kong in 1998.
First Singer With Cantopop & Mandopop Hits Singer
Kit Chan had her breakthrough into the Taiwanese market with her hit Mandarin album, Heartache, in 1994. She had released an EP, Don’t Spoil the Peace, the previous year. Fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin, she was the first Singaporean singer to break into both the Hong Kong Cantopop market and the Taiwanese Mandopop markets. She also held lead roles in the Hong Kong musical Snow.Wolf.Lake with Jacky Cheung – both the Cantonese version in 1997 and the Mandarin production in 2005. This was followed by The Legend (where she played the late Teresa Teng) and Forbidden City in 2002, 2003 and 2006.
First Asian Idol
Hady Mirza was crowned Asian Idol in an inaugural contest held in Jakarta on 16 Dec 2007. The 27-year-old beat five other contestants from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and India in Asia’s largest singing showcase in terms of audience viewership.
Largest Concert By Visually Disabled Singer
In his debut concert on 22 Apr 2006 at the Max Pavilion in Singapore, Kelvin Tan Wei Lian sang in Mandarin, English, Thai, Cantonese and Hokkien. With this public concert, Tan became the first visually impaired singer in Asia to sing in front of a paying audience of more than 5,000 people.
First Singapore Idol
Taufik Batisah was crowned the first Singapore Idol at the Grand Finals of the talent competition held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on 1 Dec 2004. Taufik received 62 percent of the 1.1 million votes cast by the audience, while Sylvester Sim, in second place, received 38 percent of the votes.
First Local Singer Featured On Postage Stamps
SingPost released a special MyStamp sheet of 20 ‘1st Local’ stamps featuring two images of Taufik Batisah. The stamps were available from 28 Mar 2005 at S$15 per sheet.
Fastest Selling English Album
The only English music album to reach double platinum status in record time is Taufik Batisah’s Blessings. It sold 30,000 copies in less than 20 days after its release in 2005.
First Campus Superstar
On 2 Apr 2006, Ng Chee Yang, 16, of Hwa Chong Institution emerged as the winner of Campus SuperStar, a talent-search competition organised by MediaCorp from Jan to Apr 2006. The contestants comprised of students from secondary schools, junior colleges and ITEs.
Best Selling Malay Recording Artiste
Ramli Sarip and his group, Sweet Charity, were very popular in the late 1970s. Warner Music released their first album in 1979, which sold more than 50,000 copies. Having recorded seven albums together, members of the band went their separate ways. From 1989 onwards, Ramli has cut eight solo albums with an average sale of 100,000 original copies per album. The highest sale achieved was 250,000 original copies. Currently, he remains a popular singer and producer in Malaysia.
First TV Artiste To Release Solo Album
Fann Wong was the first television artiste to release a solo album Fanntasy in 1995.
First Solo Concert By Local Singer
Fann Wong was the first local singer to stage a solo paying concert (My Story – Fann Wong In Concert) at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on 24 Jun 2000.
First Successful Singer In Las Vegas
Anita Sarawak was the first local singer to make it big in the Las Vegas show scene, performing nightly at Caesar’s Palace in the 1980s. Anita was wildly popular as a singer on television and stage shows in the late 1960s and 1970s. The diva released her first Malay EP in 1974 entitled Anita Sarawak.
First To Win A Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod Award
Soprano Janani Sridhar was the first Singaporean to win first place at the 58th Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in 2004 in the Vocal Solo under 16 category, one of the world’s great music festivals. She received the 2005 HSBC Youth Excellence Award for musical excellence. In 2007, she won the 6th Asian Youth Music Competition in the voice category for contestants aged between 18 and 35.
Local Artiste With Most Albums Sold
Stefanie Sun has sold over 10 million copies in Asia. With 11 albums to her name, she is the most popular Mandarin female singer Singapore has produced. Her first album, Yan Zi, was released in May 2000. It sold more than 300,000 copies in Taiwan, 200,000 copies in China, 12,000 copies in both Hong Kong and Malaysia and 17,000 copies in Singapore. In 2007, she was awarded the Singapore Youth Award (Arts and Culture).
First Singer To Top American & UK Music Charts
In 2003-05, three of Ho Yeow Sun’s singles Where Did Love Go, One With You, and Without Love, reached number one position on the weekly American Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play Chart. From 2004-06, three of her singles, One With You, Without Love, and Ends Of The Earth, reached number one position on the UK MusicWeek Chart, while Without Love and Gone were top on the UK DMC Chart. More popularly known as Sun, she was the first Singaporean to perform at the Hollywood Film Festival 2003, and to present at the American Dance Music Awards 2004 and the 51st Grammy Awards in 2009.
Youngest Recording Artiste
Hiranya S, 6, recorded her first CD album in a studio in Chennai, India. The CD contains Veda mantras and devotional songs. Hiranya S performs regularly in Singapore’s temples and talent shows. She is currently taking lessons in Indian classical music and bhajans.
First Teenage Rock Band Winner
Band 3dash1 beat 206 other bands in Jul 2006, winning S$5,000 in cash and a management contract from artiste management company, Music & Movement, in the first-ever teenage band talent competition. Called The Straits Times School of Rock Competition, it was for bands with members aged between 13-18. 3dash1 consists of lead singer-guitarist Muhammad Ashik, 18, from Singapore Polytechnic, bassist Andhika, 17, from Nanyang Polytechnic, and drummer Mohammed Nashir, 19, from ITE Simei.
Longest Serving Choir Master
In 1966, Peter Low started a youth choir at Church of St Michael’s. The group moved to Church of the Risen Christ in 1970 where it was augmented to a full strength of 80 singers. Popularly known as the Peter Low Choir, it was installed at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Apr 2002. Low has served in the same choir since 1970. Low was awarded the Papal colours by Pope John Paul ll in 1995. He was knighted Knight Commander with Star of the Order of St Gregory the Great in 2003.
First To Win World Choir Competition
The Singapore Youth Choir was formed in 1964 as a combined schools choir under the Ministry of Education. In 1967, it came under the Young Musician’s Society. Led by David Lim, the choir was the first from Singapore to win first prize in the Youth Choir section at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales in 1974.
First Album By Female Rap Artist
Masia One has challenged stereotypes with her successful rap career. Born in Singapore as Maysian Lim, the hip hop artist has topped music charts in Canada and even became the first woman to be nominated for a Rap Video award at a North American music show in 2005. Since 2003, the architecture graduate has recorded three video albums – Mississauga, and Pulau l & ll.
Most Recordings By A Choir
The Risen Christ Choir has recorded seven albums under the WEA label. It was the first junior choir to participate in the Llangollen Eisteddfod where it won a distinction award. It performed for Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1985 and 1998, in Disneyland at Anaheim in 1982 and in the Merv Griffith Show in Hollywood in 1992.
First Winners in World Choir Games
Anderson Junior College choir won the championship trophy for the Mixed Choir category at the World Choir Games held in Xiamen, China, in Jul 2006. In the Musica Sacra A Cappella category, Victoria Chorale was the winner in the competition. Both choirs were conducted by Nelson Kwei. More than 400 choirs from 80 nations participated.
First Winners At WCOPA
Singapore took part in the World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) for the first time in Jul 2008 at Los Angeles. JazzKids won four golds. Judee Tan won four golds and two silvers. Jay Espano won two silvers. Nicole Verghese won a silver. Except for the latter, they also won the Industry awards. JazzKids, a group of young performers managed by Kids Performing, is Asia’s first group of children that sing to jazz and big band swing music.
First Public Band Concert
In Jun 1831, the Band of the 29th Madras Native Infantry was the first to give a public band concert in Singapore at the sea front along Connaught Drive.
First Public Music Recital
The first reported public entertainment was a recital given by a violinist known as Signor Masoni in 1831.
First Performance of National Anthem
Zubir Said wrote the national anthem around the two words ‘Majulah Singapura’ (Onward Singapore) over 1956 to 1957 before Singapore gained independence from British rule. Originally the City Council’s official song, it was first performed by the Singapore Chamber Ensemble during the official opening of the renovated Victoria Theatre on 6 Sep 1958. It was accepted as the National Anthem in Nov 1959.
First SSO Concert
The first Singapore Symphony Orchestra concert was held at Victoria Concert Hall in Jan 1979, under the baton of maestro Choo Hoey. The SSO was founded in the same year.
Longest Serving Player Of SSO
Acting Leader and Associate Concertmaster of the SSO, Lynette Seah, has been with the orchestra since its inauguration in 1979 till today.
First Harmonica Player With The SSO
Yew Hong Chow became the first Singaporean to play the harmonica with the SSO in 1981. He played Chagrin’s Romanian Fantasy.
Youngest To Play With SSO
On 18 Jul 2003, primary five student Abigail Sin made her concert debut with the SSO performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 13, making her the youngest pianist to perform with the SSO.
First Local Work Played By SSO
Leong Yoon Pin, Cultural Medallion winner (1982), was the first Singaporean composer to have his works played by the SSO in 1998 with his Overture Dayong Sampan.
Youngest Musician To Tour With The SSO
Pan Yi An was only 13 years old when she became the youngest musician to tour and play with the SSO in 2005. She travelled to the United States, France and Spain with the SSO when the scheduled pianist was unable to make the trip.
First Modern Malay Orchestra
Orkestra Melayu Singapura was formed in Sep 1991. It is the first orchestra to perform Malay music with traditional and modern instruments, and popular Western, Chinese and Indian music with traditional Malay instruments. Currently, Amri Amin is its music director and Mohd Jais Minsawi is its conductor.
Top Award-Winning Conductor
29-year-old Darrell Ang won the 50th International Besancon Competition for Young Conductors held in Oct 2007 in France. At the competition, he received all the awards available – Grand Prix of 12,000 euros and the Prix Du Public, voted by the audience, as well as another prize awarded by the orchestra. In Oct 2008, Ang won the top prize at the prestigious Toscanini Competition in Italy. He has also won other competitions including the Pedrotti (2006) and Besançon (2007). Ang studied in Russia and the USA. He earned his specialist diploma in symphonic and operatic conducting from the St Peterburg State Conservatory. He is currently appointed Young Associate Conductor of the SSO.
Only Professional Chinese Orchestra
The 70-strong Singapore Chinese Orchestra has been led by Tsung Yeh since 2002. Formerly a performing unit of the People’s Association Cultural Troupe, the orchestra was inaugurated in 1996.
First Ensemble To Record With BBC
The 70-strong Singapore Chinese Orchestra has been led by Tsung Yeh since 2002. Formerly a performing unit of the People’s Association Cultural Troupe, the orchestra was inaugurated in 1996.
First Piano Concerto
Kelly Tang’s Piano Concerto, in three movements, was written as a doctoral thesis in 1995. It was not until 2010 that the work had its world premiere. He currently serves as Associate Professor of Music at NIE.
Most Prolific Recording Artiste In Classical Music
Melvyn Tan studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School and then went to the Royal College in London. He first focused on the piano and the harpsichord and then turned his attention to the pianoforte. His over 30 recordings include the complete concertos and sonatas of Beethoven, the impromptus of Schubert and the concertos of Mozart. He also recorded albums on the Preludes of Debussy and Chopin.
Youngest To Be Admitted To The Juilliard
At 11, Clare Yeo was admitted to The Juilliard, a world top music school in New York, in Sep 2003. She won the first prize in her age category in the 7th Annual New York Music Competition in 2004. In 2006, she was the first Singaporean to win the Gina Bachauer Scholarship at The Juilliard.
First Professor Of Violin
Since 2001, Siow Lee Chin has been appointed Director of Strings and Associate Professor of Violin at the College of Charleston, USA. She is also the only musician to have the Changi Airport billboards and postage stamps bearing her image.
First Violinist To Sign With Major Label
Lee Huei Min is the first Singaporean classical violinist to sign up with a major label. She released her CD with Universal Music in 2002.
Composer Of Most Symphonies
By the age of 40, Tan Chan Boon has completed four full-length symphonies and over 800 pieces of music. In 2000, he conducted and recorded his Symphony No. 2 Genese with the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra. He studied at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris where he achieved two advanced degrees in composition within three years.
World’s First Professional Toy Pianist
Margaret Leng Tan is the first professional toy pianist to perform worldwide with her 51-cm high toy piano. In 1997, the 60-year-old pianist launched her groundbreaking album, Art of the Toy Piano. It was lauded internationally by critics.
Only Licensed Organ Builder
Robert Navaratnam learned the trade of making organs in Germany with the company Emil Hammer Orgelbau from 1979 to 1983, sponsored by a Christian mission in Stuttgart. He is the only licensed organ builder here, and the maker of Singapore’s only locally designed organ, the choir organ at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. It has 504 pipes and weighs 500 kg. As the organ’s cost of S$40,000 was raised in parts and the construction was done in between services, it took Navaratnam 13 years to build it, from 1992 to 2005.
Oldest Working Organ
Built in 1912, the oldest working organ in Singapore is situated at the gallery of the Cathedral of Good Shepherd, the oldest Catholic church in Singapore. The organ originally had 881 pipes, but in 1990, 679 were added.
Most Prolific Jazz Composer
Jeremy Monteiro, Cultural Medallion winner (2002), has a total of 21 albums to his credit. He has composed or produced over 700 pieces of music and was listed in the year 2000 edition of Who’s Who of The World. He was appointed Professor & Visiting Chair of Jazz, School of Music at Lasalle College of the Arts in 2006, the first local to be appointed Professor.
First Overall Winner At World Violin Competition
12-year-old Gabriel Ng came up tops in his age group at the 14th Andrea Postacchini International Violin Competition held in Femo, Italy, in May 2007. He was awarded the Grand Prize as the overall winner of the competition. Gabriel was also the youngest to win the 2003 Singapore National Piano and Violin Competition when he was nine. He currently trains at the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin School in England.
Longest Performing Classical Harmonica Virtuoso
Yew Hong-Jen has played for Mao Tse Tung when he was 16 and at 67, he still performed with the NUS Harmonica Orchestra in Jun 2006.
First Teochew Drum Music CD
Tom Tan is the owner of four dim sum retail outlets in food courts, one restaurant and two factories and an amateur Teochew drummer. He launched the first CD of Teochew opera music in 1997. The CD was titled, Fatty Yong Teochew Drum Music. Tan was also the first foreigner to have performed Teochew drum music before a Chinese crowd in China in 1997.
Youngest Disc Jockey
16-year-old Nico Alphonso Ho is Singapore’s youngest DJ. He participated at the 8th DMC/Technics World DJ Championships at Zouk and was the youngest contestant in the competition. The East View Secondary School student picked up spinning 18 months before that and finished third in the competition with the Best Newcomer award.
Born in Apr 1999, Ethan Ong Sze Rey was Singapore’s youngest busker. With extraordinary drumming skills since two years of age, Ethan was drumming at Orchard Road on weekends. At eight years, he was the junior champion at the Singapore Drum Festival. In 2009, he won the junior drum category at the 4th National Youth Percussion Instrument Competition in Shanghai, China.
First Film Screenings
The private screening of Queen Victoria’s funeral was held at the City Hall in 1901. The first public screening of a film took place in 1902 by a travelling Parsi exhibitor at the junction of River Valley Road and Hill Street.
First Cinema Hall
The Levy brothers established the first picture-showing building, with proper seats and projection cabin, at Victoria Street in 1904. Called the Paris Cinema, it was the first proper cinema hall.
First Film Distributors
In 1907, Fernand Dreyfus started the first film distribution agency in Singapore. The company was the accredited agency for famous film-maker Pathe. He also started the Alhambra cinema later in the year.
Oldest Registered Theatre And Cinema Companies
Palace Theatres Syndicate and Palace Theatres Ltd were both registered in 1917 and Tan Cheng Kee & Co Ltd in 1919.
First Documentary Shot In Singapore
Georges Melies, renowned early French film-maker, produced A Day In Singapore in 1913.
First Non-Documentary Shot In Singapore
The first story film shot in Singapore was Xin Ke (The Immigrant), produced by Liu Peh Jing. The silent movie was about Chinese immigrants in the city and premiered in Nov 1926 at the Malborough Theatre.
First Local Talking Movies
Laila Majnun (Crazy about Laila), a film about a pair of ill-fated lovers, was the first feature film to be shot entirely in Singapore in 1933 and released in 1934. It was produced by the Motilall Chemical Company and directed by BS Rajhans who came from India. Samarang (Shark Woman), by American film-maker Ward Wing was shot in Singapore in 1932. It was released in the States in 1933 and in Singapore in 1934.
First Local Colour Film
The first locally-produced film shot in colour was Buloh Perindu (Magic Flute), directed by BS Rajhans in 1953.
First Local Cinemascope Film
Sumpah Pontianak (Curse of the Vampire), directed by BN Rao in 1953 and produced by Cathay-Keris Studios, was the first locally-made cinemascope film.
First Local Cantonese Film
The first Cantonese film, produced under the Shaw banner in 1955, was Xingdao Hongchuan (The Opera Boat in Singapore), shot on location in Singapore.
First Local Film Showcased At New York Museum Of Modern Art
Kelvin Tong’s 1995 short film, Moveable Feast, is the first Singapore cinematic piece to be showcased at the prestigious Museum of Modern Art at New York. Tong’s other works, Eating Air and The Maid also received international acclaim.
First Local Mandarin Film
The first locally-made Mandarin movie was Shi Zi Cheng (Lion City). It was directed by Yi Sui, also known as Tang Pak Chee, and produced by Cathay-Keris in 1960. The cast was largely from an acting school Tang set up a few years earlier.
First Film With Sound
The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson, was the first film with sound to be shown in Singapore. The movie was screened in 1929.
First 3D Movie
In 1953, the first 3D film was screened at the Capitol. It was United Artist’s Bwana followed by Warner’s House of Wax (1953). That same year saw the first 3D film in technicolor, Fort Ti. Special polaroid glasses were used to watch the 3D films.
First Multiple-Projection Movie
In 1959, Sky Cinema was fitted with triple 70mm projectors to screen Cinerama films. Cinerama was an entirely new movie experience where three projectors would project a third of a film each on a semi-circular screen. The first film screened in this format was This Is Cinerama, an experience with a roller coaster ride. The semi-circular screen provided a wide-angle panorama of 120 degrees.
First Local 3D Animated Film
Zodiac: The Race Begins is a CGI film produced by Singapore’s Cubix Pictures and released on 26 Jan 2006. The Mandarin film recounts the legend behind the ancient Chinese zodiac on how 12 animals came to be chosen as its symbols.
First Local Gongfu Film
Ring of Fury was the first gongfu action movie made in Singapore. Upon completion in 1973, it was banned. It was never commercially shown in Singapore theatres. It was screened 30 years later at the Screen Singapore Festival. Lead actor Peter Chong was also Singapore’s first martial arts film-star.
First Full-Length Local English Film
Medium Rare, released in local cinemas in late 1991, was based loosely on the bizarre Adrian Lim ritual murders. Costing S$2 million to make, the film grossed only S$130,000 in box office earnings. It was produced in 1987 by Errol Pang.
First Local Film With Own Webpage
Army Daze, produced by Cathay Organisation, was the first local movie to have its own webpage. Army Daze was produced in 1996, based on a 1984 book by Michael Chiang.
First Local Film Submitted For Oscar
The Singapore Film Commission submitted its first Oscar entry, Eric Khoo’s Be With Me for the foreign-language film category in 2005. It was produced by Khoo’s Zhao Wei Films and shot on HD. It was later found that there was too much English spoken for the Academy to consider it a foreign language film.
Top Five Highest Grossing Films
The top all-time highest grossing films in Singapore are:
Avatar (2009) with box office takings of S$10.3 million, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) S$7.9 million, Spiderman 3 (2007) S$7.82 million, Transformers (2007) S$7.06 million and Titanic (1998) S$6.46 million.
First Local Film Selected For Venice International Film Festival
15 started as a short film and was extended to a full feature film in 2003. It was directed by Royston Tan and produced by Eric Khoo.
First Local Film Selected For Sundance Film Festival
Forever Fever, directed by Glen Goei, was the first film from South-East Asia to be screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 1999. It was also the first local film to be acquired by Miramax International for distribution in the United States. There it was re-titled That’s The Way I Like It.
First Movie Screening After The War
Cathay cinema was the first cinema to open after World War II. On Sunday, 23 Sep 1945, it screened the film Desert Victory, about British success in the North African campaign.
Highest Grossing Local Film
The highest grossing local movie was the 1998 production Money No Enough, scripted by and starring Jack Neo. It grossed S$5.84 million in four months and was produced by his company, JSP Productions, at a cost of S$500,000. Money No Enough was also the first local film to be made entirely in dialect. 80 percent of the movie was in Hokkien.
Longest Movie Run
The movie, Jaws, ran for 128 consecutive days at the Prince cinema at Beach Road in 1976.
Most Expensive Film Produced Jointly With A Local Company
2000 AD is an action film directed by Gordon Chan and jointly produced by Singapore’s MediaCorp Raintree Pictures and Hong Kong’s Media Asia Films and People’s Production Ltd. The film cost S$8.5 million and was shot on location in both cities. It starred Phyllis Quek and James Lye.
First Local Full-Length Digital Feature Film
Stamford Hall was directed, produced, staffed and managed by NUS undergraduates and released in 2000. Costing only S$18,000 the film was not released in cinemas. The second digital feature film was Stories about Love. Commercially released in 2000, it comprised three segments, each written and directed by a different filmmaker.
Most Singapore-Made Films At An International Film Festival
A record of five Singapore-made films were selected for screening by the 12th Pusan International Film Festival on 4-12 Oct 2007. They were 881, Ah-Ma (Grandma), Invisible City, Kuaile Gongchang (Pleasure Factory) and Solos. 881 was directed by Royston Tan, Ah-Ma by Anthony Chen, Invisible City by Tan Pin Pin, Kuaile Gongchang by Ekachai Uekrongtham’s and Solos by Loo Zi Han.
First Local Film To Win International New Screenwriters Award
Singapore Dreaming, by writer-director couple Colin Goh and Woo Yen Yen, won the Montblanc Award for New Screenwriters at the San Sebastian International film festival in Oct 2006. In Oct 2007, it snagged the Best Asian/Middle-Eastern Film Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival, the first Singapore feature to win an award at this major film event.
First Local Film Funded By Foreign Broadcaster
Royston Tan’s second feature film 4:30 was funded and co-produced by NHK Japan in 2006. The film was also the first domestic picture chosen to close the Singapore International Film Festival.
First Short Film At Foreign Film Festivals
Barbie Digs Joe was the first Singapore short film to make it to film festivals abroad. It was Eric Khoo’s first animated short film produced in 1990. It won five awards, including Best Film at the Singapore Video Competition.
First Local Film To Receive International Critical Acclaim
Mee Pok Man, a 1995 film by Eric Khoo, was the first local movie to be invited to over 30 film festivals. It won the Special Mention prize from the International Federation of Film Critics, a Special Jury prize at the ninth Fukuoka Film Festival and a Special Mention prize from the jury at the first Pusan International Film Festival in 1996.
Most Prolific Producer Of Box Office Hits
Jack Neo, Cultural Medallion winner (2005), holds the record for Singapore’s highest grossing local films: Money No Enough (S$5.84 million), I Not Stupid (S$3.8 million), I Not Stupid Too (S$4.6 million) and Liang Po Po (S$3 million). Homerun, I Do I Do, and The Best Bet were also box office hits.
First Local Film At Cannes Film Festival
Eric Khoo’s 12 Storeys (1997) about the lives of four families living in the same HDB block, was the first Singapore film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival. It also won the Federation of International Film Critics award.
First Film To Win A Cannes Film Festival Award
Directed by 23-year-old Anthony Chen, Ah Ma was selected from over 3,000 local entries, for competition in the Les Courts Metrages En Competition where short films compete for the Palme d’Or Short Film award and a Jury Prize. The 15-min film secured the Special Distinction Award at the 60th Cannes Film Festival in 2007.
First Movie Entered For The Palme d’Or
At the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, Eric Khoo’s movie, My Magic, became Singapore’s first competitive entry for the Palme d’Or. The Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) is the highest prize awarded to competing films at the festival. The movie, which starred illusionist Bosco Francis and 14-year-old Jathishweran Naidu, has also been entered as an official entry as a foreign language film for the 2009 Oscar by the Singapore Film Commission.
Most Prolific Producer Of Award-Winning Short Films
Wee Li Lin works as a freelance television producer/director. She has made over ten short films in Singapore so far, three of which have been award winners at the Singapore International Film Festival and two have won awards at American Film Festivals. Gone Shopping (2007) is her first feature film.
First To Win Student Academy Award
Amateur film-maker Tan Pin Pin was the first Singaporean to win a Student Academy Award for her documentary, Moving House, in May 2002. The award was given out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the same body that awards Oscars. It was established in 1972 to support film-making at the university level.
First Asian In Raymond Weil Hall Of Fame
On 22 Jun 2006, Royston Tan was the first Asian to be inducted into the ‘Raymond Weil Hall of Fame’ in recognition of his contribution to the local art scene.
First Film Actor To Sing In His Own Voice
In 1950, P Ramlee became the first actor to sing in his own voice in the movie Bakti.
Director With Most Film Awards
From 1955 and for the next 20 years, P Ramlee won multiple international awards (including film festivals in Hong Kong and Japan) for his work, which spanned over 70 films and 200 songs.
Most Prolific Director And Actor
P Ramlee (1929-1973) acted in 65 movies and directed 34 feature films. 16 of these were shot in Singapore where he worked between 1955 and 1964. His other films were mostly shot in Malaysia.
Most Prolific Living Movie Actor
Lim Kay Tong has acted on stage, films and television, including British and Hollywood productions. His 18 feature film credits include The Last Emperor (1987), Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993), Perth (2004) and Kung Fu Killer (2008).
First Actress To Star In A Hollywood Film
Fann Wong acted as Chon Lin in Shanghai Knights (2003), an American action-comedy movie. The film also starred Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson.
First Local Film Award Ceremony
Taking a cue from Hollywood, the first local ‘Oscar’ ceremony was launched by Utusan Film and Sports magazine in 1954. Held at the Indonesian Club, the Best Film went to BN Rao’s Hujan Panas. Best Actor went to P Ramlee and Best Actress to Siput Sarawak.
Most Prolific Local Film Composer
Joe Ng’s music has put life into 20 local films and television series. He has scored all of Kelvin Tong’s films. He was also the singer-songwriter when he was with the band Corporate Toil and later, Padres.
First And Largest Cinema Chain
Runme Shaw and Run Run Shaw came to Singapore in 1926 and ventured into film screening, distribution and production. By 1965, Shaw Brothers owned 35 companies, 130 cinemas in South-East Asia (including 19 in Singapore), nine amusement parks and three production studios. Currently it has approximately 37 screens with a total of 10,190 seats.
First Actress To Win Golden Horse Award
Ten-year-old actress, Megan Zheng, became the first Singaporean to win the Taiwan-based Golden Horse award in 2003 for her role in the movie, Homerun. She was awarded Best Newcomer.
First Local Production Studio
The Shaw Brothers studio, set up at 8 Jalan Ampas in 1937, was the first fully-equipped studio to be set up in Singapore. The first movies were produced with actors drawn from Malay opera troupes. Topeng Hitam (Black Mask), Mutiara (Pearl), Gagak Hitam (Black Crow), Bermadu (The Rival), Topeng Shaitan (Devil’s Mask), Mata Hantu (Ghost Eyes), Kekasih Tiga (Three Lovers) and Terang Bulan Di Malaya (Full Moon In Malaya) were among the early made-in-Singapore movies.
First Cathay Studios
The first Cathay studios were formed out of cooperation between Dato Loke Wan Tho’s Cathay Organisation and Ho Ah Loke’s Keris Film Productions. The two companies merged to form Cathay-Keris Studios in 1953. It closed in 1972.
First Digital Cinema
Opened in 2002, Cathay Cineplex Orchard was Singapore’s first digital cinema with THX technology.
Most Movies Made In A Year
1952 was the most productive year for the Singapore movie-making industry, with a total of 23 films.
First Singapore International Film Festival
The first Singapore International Film Festival opened in Feb 1987. Geoffrey Malone and L Leland Whitney were the unofficial founders of the SIFF, which opened with The Name of the Rose and closed with Roland Joffe’s The Mission.
First Film Classification System
The government introduced a rating system in Jul 1991 with a ‘Restricted’ rating for films with adult themes, limited to those over 18 years old. But a public outcry forced the censors to change the ‘Restricted’ to ‘Restricted (Artistic)’ or R(A) rating two months later, which only allowed these same films to be seen by those 21 years and above.
First Air-Con Cinema
The Cathay Building was the first public air-conditioned place in Singapore. It was also the tallest building at 16 storeys, when it was first opened on 2 Oct 1939. The first movie shown at the cinema was Zoltan Korda’s The Four Feathers.
Golden Village VivoCity’s multiplex, measuring 90,000 sq ft with 15 halls is the largest in Singapore. It opened in Oct 2006. Blockbusters can be viewed on a 24m wide screen at the VMax, the biggest hall with 608 seats. Europa Cinema, which focuses on arthouse fare, has 108 seats.
Asia’s Biggest Drive-In Cinema
The first drive-in cinema in Singapore and Malaysia was located at Yuan Ching Road, Jurong, and opened on 14 Jul 1971 by Cathay Organisation. It could accommodate up to 900 cars and 300 walk-in patrons. It closed in Sep 1985.
The first multiplex cinema in Singapore, Yishun 10, was opened by Golden Village in May 1992. Golden Village also pioneered a 24-hr telephone booking system, which allows the reservation of tickets one week in advance.
Largest Cinema Hall
The largest cinema hall is Prince 1 with 1,200 seats at Shaw Tower, Beach Road, and run by Shaw Organisation.
SE Asia’s Largest 4D Simulation Theatre
The Sentosa 4D Magix, built at a cost of S$3.5 million, was opened in Jan 2006. It offers a full spectrum of visual effects, surround sound, individually-controlled motion seats and special ‘live’ environmental effects such as water spray.
Largest Movie Screen
The screen at the Singapore Science Centre Omni-Theatre is 5-storey high and has a diameter of 23m. The theatre screens large-format films which provide the industry’s highest standard of clarity. The screen stretches 180-degree horizontally from wall to wall and is tilted at a 30-degree angle to the horizon.
Largest Supplier Of Cinema Digital Film Server
GDC Technology is a global solution provider for digital cinema, media delivery and display markets. The group is the largest supplier of cinema servers throughout Asia and the second largest provider of cinema servers worldwide.
Largest Outdoor Projection Screen
A screen measuring 56 ft by 48 ft was used to show the English Premier League at the open field next to Carlton Hotel on 15 Jan 2005. The ‘Rip n Roar’ event, that attracted more than 5,000 people, was jointly organised by Tiger Beer and Concept Alliance Asia.
First Radio And Radio Station
In 1921, an electrical engineer from the Johor Government, AL Birch, brought the first radio set into Singapore. In 1922, broadcasting began with amateurs broadcasting from two experimental stations. The first broadcasting station was set up at Empress Place in 1936 by the British Malaya Broadcasting Corporation, a private commercial organisation.
First Radio Transmission
On 1 Jun 1936, the first radio news was broadcast from Empress Place. Normal service by Radio Singapura began with an inauguration speech by Governor Sir Shenton Thomas on 1 Mar 1937.
First Commercial Digital Radio Service
Digital Radio is Asia’s first digital radio service. Launched in 1999 by MediaCorp, Digital Radio has five channels: Cruise, Club Play, JK-Pop, Chinese Evergreens and Planet Bollywood and is equipped with 20 information services ranging from news and traffic updates.
First Campus Radio Station
Radio Heatwave is Singapore’s first campus radio station. Established in 1992, the station is managed by students from the School of Film and Media Studies in Ngee Ann Polytechnic. It broadcasts in the four major languages.
Most Popular And Longest-Running Storyteller
Lee Fook Hong or more popularly known as Lee Dai Soh, was telling tales of Chinese folklore, sword-fighting heroes and ghosts on the air in Cantonese for over 50 years. His prime time on the air made him a household name. In 1938, he had his first taste of storytelling when he joined Radio Malaya. In 1949, he joined Rediffusion. Till he passed away in 1989, he was still recording for the Australian Broadcasting Commission station here which broadcast to countries such as Malaysia, Hong Kong and Vietnam.
First Radio Station To Use Visual Radio
MediaCorp Radio’s Perfect 10 98.7FM was the first station to launch the Visual Radio commercially in Dec 2005. Visual Radio is an integrated mobile application, which synchronises images and text with the radio broadcast to deliver information and interactivity directly to the listeners.
First Chinese Language Radio Station To Use Visual Radio
YES 93.3FM was the first Chinese language radio station in the world to launch Visual Radio in Jun 2006. It allows listeners to tune in to local FM radio through the analog receiver on their mobile device while simultaneously receiving interactive information and graphics that are synchronised with the radio broadcast via the cellular data network onto the screen of the mobile device.
Station With Largest Audience Size
Singapore’s number one station in terms of listeners, YES 93.3FM entertains 895,000 listeners daily. It plays top hits and entertainment news from the Chinese music industry.
First Digital Audio Broadcasting Subscription Service
Rediffusion is the only subscription radio service provider in Singapore and the first country in the world to introduce subscription digital radio service. Since obtaining a DAB Multiplex Licence in 2005, Rediffusion has since developed a set of DAB receivers encrypted with conditional access for the wireless pay services application, making it the world’s first and only digital DAB conditional access system for the mass market. It operates 11 subscription DAB radio stations.
First Cable Radio Broadcast Service
British cable radio company Rediffusion introduced Singapore to its first cable broadcasting service in 1949, also a first in the Far East region. There were two stations; one was for dialect programmes while the other was for English programmes; for a monthly subscription fee of S$5.
First Radio Programme Syndicated Overseas
The Best In Retro With Doctormix, was the first Singapore syndicated radio dance show to be syndicated overseas to countries like the United States and UK in Mar 2003. The programme is now broadcast to 23 countries/cities across the globe. The producer and presenter, Milton Pereira mixes different dance tracks from the 70s, 80s, 90s and current Top 40 hits to create the programme.
First Local Television Broadcast
The first local television broadcast took place on 15 Feb 1963, from Singapore’s first television station, Television Singapura. Thousands of spectators crowded in front of Victoria Memorial Hall to catch a glimpse of the television sets. Inside the hall, about 500 VIPs waited around 17 TV sets to watch the inauguration of a pilot monochrome television service.
First Person To Appear On Singapore Television
S Rajaratnam, the Minister of Culture then, was the first Singaporean to appear on television, when the broadcast came on at 6 pm on 15 Feb 1963.
First TV Programme Broadcast
The first programme broadcast on Singapore television was a 15-min documentary produced by Television Singapura, called TV Looks At Singapura. It gave viewers a look into the world of TV broadcasting and what it could bring to Singaporeans. It was followed by Heckle and Jeckle (cartoon), Dicky Duck (cartoon), News in English and then Hancock’s Half-Hour (variety). The entire transmission lasted for less than two hours.
Regular transmissions began on 2 Apr 1963 with the English Channel 5. The first Chinese channel, Channel 8, started in 1968.
First Colour Broadcast
The first colour TV broadcast was in May 1974. The first ‘live’ colour transmission was the World Cup Finals between Germany and Holland on 7 Jul 1974.
First Stereophonic Sound Broadcast
Singapore Broadcasting Corporation transmitted its first television programmes in stereophonic sound on 1 Aug 1990.
Earliest Pay TV
Movielink was the first company to offer movies to hotel guests and hospital patients from 1986-1987. It was also the first to operate a video-wall and movie theatrette at Changi Airport in 1991.
First Cable Television Network
Spectel, the first cable television network was launched on 2 Feb 1993 at Singapore Polytechnic, to link up campuses.
First Public Cable Television Network
In 1995, Singapore Cable Vision launched the first public cable broadcast service. It changed its name to StarHub Cable Vision in 2002, when it merged with telecommunications company StarHub.
First Online Broadband TV
MediaCorp TV launched Singapore’s first subscription-based video-on-demand service named MediaCorp Online Broadband TV (MOBTV) in Aug 2006. The new Internet-delivered service allows immediate access to MediaCorp programmes on subscribers’ PCs and laptops via immediate digital streaming or download.
First Digital Video Broadcast On Buses
TVMobile, a subsidiary company of MediaCorp TV, was the first in the world to use Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) technology to deliver high quality mobile TV programmes to commuters on public buses. In 2001, it was launched in buses and food courts. In 2010, the service was terminated.
First Animated Series On International Children’s Channel
Peach Blossom Media is a pioneer in the Singapore animation industry. Its Tomato Twins animated series is the first original Asian show to be broadcast internationally on major children’s channel, Nickelodeon, in 2002. The series of 13 half-hour episodes reached 130 million households.
First Local HD TV Production
1st Cut, a series of four 90-min movies, was the first movie series produced and broadcast in high-definition. It was shot using Sony’s HD CineAlta System. It was televised from Feb 2004.
First HD Broadcast
1st Cut, a series of four 90-min movies, was the first movie series produced and broadcast in high-definition. It was shot using Sony’s HD CineAlta System. It was televised from Feb 2004.
First HD Channels
After a six-month trial, on 19 Jan 2007, StarHub launched HD programming for two of its channels – Discovery Channel HD and National Geographic Channel HD. Singapore became the first South-East Asian country to launch commercial HD television services via cable and terrestrial channels.
First Local-Production HD Channel
Sling HD is the first Made-by-Singapore HD channel. It is a 24/7 channel dedicated to action sports, computer gaming and the youth culture surrounding them. It is a channel under SingTel’s Mio pay-TV service launched in Jul 2007.
First Web TV Service
Singapore Press Holding’s RazorTV is the first interactive webcast service when it started airing in 2008. It was awarded a niche internet TV licence, which carried less onerous obligations than a nationwide one.
Phua Chu Kang is the longest running sitcom in Singapore’s television history. It featured the hilarious adventures of a local renovation contractor and his family, with Gurmit Singh in the title role. The locally-produced show aired for seven seasons from 1997, capping its final episode on 11 Feb 2007. In 2009, Phua Chu Kang Sdn Bhd was spinned off on Malaysia’s ntv7.
First TV Singing Contest
The first talentime contest was held in 1964.
First English TV Soap Drama
Singapore’s first English drama Masters of the Sea, which revolved around the lives of a wealthy family, was aired in 1994.
First English TV Superhero
The first English TV drama to feature a local superhero was VR Man, aired in 1998. James Lye played the lead role.
First Local English Sitcom
The first English sitcom was Under One Roof, which aired in 1994. Starring a multiracial cast, the show captured the Best Comedy Programme or Series Award at the Asian Television Awards in 1996 and 1997.
Longest-Running Variety Show
The longest variety show in Singapore history was Comedy Night, running from 1990 to 2000. It returned in 2003 to celebrate MediaCorp TV’s 40th anniversary for a brief period.
Record Fundraising For A TV Charity Show
In 2001, the NKF Charity Show, organised by the National Kidney Foundation, broke fundraising history in Singapore when it raised more than S$11.6 million through 1.8 million calls and 477,000 SMS donations.
First Four-Language TV Commercial
This first local TV commercial to feature all four official languages in one advertisement is the McDonald’s commercial, A Day In Singapore, screened on Oct 1991.
First Star Search Competition
The first biennial Star Search competition, organised by Channel 8, was held in 1988. The competition was first opened to contestants from Malaysia in 1993, and Taiwan in 1998. The first winners of the inaugural Mandarin Star Search were Zoe Tay, Jazreel Low and Aileen Tan.
First Multiple Star Awards Winner
In 1995, Fann Wong was the first actress to get three awards at the Star Awards – Best Newcomer, Best Actress and Top Most Popular Female Artiste.
Most Watched Live Telecast From Singapore
On 6 Jul 2005, at the 117th IOC Session when the 2012 Olympic Games host city was announced from Raffles City, an estimated one billion people worldwide saw the programme live.
Most Watched Channel
Channel 8, a 24-hour, Mandarin-language channel is the highest-rated channel in Singapore.
First Tamil Drama With Overseas Cast And Director
Chinna Kuyili, a 13-part 1997 Tamil drama series and co-production between Singapore Television Twelve and New Vision Asia, was the first local Tamil drama to feature an internationally renowned cast and the award-winning director, S Krishnaswamy.
First News Anchor On International News Station
Pek Siok Lian became the first Singaporean to be headhunted in 1999 to be a news anchor on CNN. Pek has written and directed plays like the 1997 Mail Order Brides and Other Oriental Take-Aways.
Most Expensive Mandarin Drama
The Unbeatables II, which aired in 1996, was the most expensive drama produced by MediaCorp. It was shot in San Francisco and Las Vegas, and cost above S$100,000.
Most Expensive Mandarin Wuxia Drama
The Return of the Condor Heroes, which aired in 1998, was the most expensive blockbuster wuxia drama produced by MediaCorp. Based on Louis Cha’s novel, the serial made waves in Taiwan and China. Fann Wong and Christopher Lee played lead roles in the show.
Longest Mandarin Drama
Double Happiness, shown in 2004, was the longest Chinese drama on Singapore television. It had 130 episodes in two parts. The first part was shown from May to Aug, while the second part began in Oct.
Mandarin Drama With Highest Viewership
The Little Nyonya was the highest rated Chinese drama, with an average viewership of 993,000 people. The finale itself was watched by 1,672,000 viewers, which roughly equaled 33.85 percent of the television-viewing audience in Singapore. The 34-episode drama serial was aired from 2008-2009.
Mandarin Drama With Most Star Awards
Holland V, which aired in 2003, collected seven awards at the MediaCorp Star Awards, the highest Mandarin drama so far. They are for Best Drama Serial, Top Rated Drama Serial, Best Screenplay (Ang Eng Tee), Best Actor (Xie Shaoguang), Best Actress (Chen Liping), Best Supporting Actor (Huang Yiliang) and Best Supporting Actress (Patricia Mok).
MediaCorp Artiste With Most Acting Accolades
Xie Shaoguang won seven awards at the MediaCorp Star Awards in ten years as Best Actor in 1996 (The Last Rhythm), 1998 (Stand By Me), 1999 (Stepping Out), 2003 (Holland V), and 2004 (Double Happiness I). He won the Best Supporting Actor title in 1995 (Larceny Of Love) and 1996 (Golden Pillow). He has consistently been voted as one of the Top 10 Most Popular Male Artistes.
First Professional Cantonese Opera
In 1981, Lou Mee Wah and Joanna Wong co-founded Singapore’s first professional Cantonese opera company, Chinese Theatre Circle. To date, the group has performed over 2,000 shows in Singapore and in 23 other countries.
First Winner Of Outstanding Young Person In The World Award
Joanna See Too Hoi Siang started learning opera at the age of 14. In 1998, she gave up an executive career to pursue the art fulltime. To date, See Too has delivered some 2,000 performances both at home and overseas. She has even performed Madam White Snake in English. At 40, See Too was named one of the Top 10 Outstanding Persons Award in the World by the Junior Chamber International in 2001 for her artistic contributions.
Only Arts Group At World Culture Open
In Aug 2004, Chinese Theatre Circle was selected as one of the 12 finalists to vie for the World Culture Open Award which was considered as ‘the Olympics for culture’. CTC was the only arts company from the East Asia and South-East Asia region selected from nominations received from 120 countries worldwide.
First Opera In Three Chinese Dialects
The Chinese Opera Institute was the first to depict the Indian epic Ramayana in three Chinese opera forms. Dr Chua Soo Pong adapted the classic into Hokkien, Teochew and Huangmei opera forms. Since then, it has been performed in international festivals in Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Germany, New Zealand and Monaco.
Longest Lasting Opera Troupe
The Sin Yong Hua Heng Troupe, was founded in 1927. In its heydays in the 1950s to 1960s, the Teochew troupe had as many as 60 cast and crew members. Its last performance was in Jun 2001 at Block 111, Yishun Ring Road.
First Beijing Opera Teacher
Phan Wait Hong, Cultural Medallion winner (1992) at the age of 79, was best known for her ability to perform the laosheng (old man) and laodan (old lady) roles. Despite being illiterate, she was the first to teach Beijing opera in Singapore.
First Chinese Opera Sung In English
Intrigues in the Qing Imperial Court, written by Leslie Wong, resident playwright of Chinese Theatre Circle, is the first full-length Chinese opera sung in English in the world. It premiered in the Festival of World Cultures on 26 Aug 2005 in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland. The opera tells the tragic tale of romance between Emperor Guang Xu and his concubine Zhen Fei.
Most Popular Chinese Opera Production
Chinese Theatre Circle’s signature opera A Costly Impulse was recorded ‘live’ in Beijing in 1993 and subsequently broadcast nationwide to a viewership of 700 million people in China. It starred the Cultural Medallion (1997) winner Lou Mee Wah.
First Amateur Musical
The earliest record of an amateur musical put up in Singapore appeared on the 21 Mar 1833 issue of The Singapore Chronicle.
First Musical By A Local Professional Group
Makan Place was staged in 1988 by Act 3. The music was written by Jasmin Samat Simon and the lyrics by R Chandran.
First Musical Staged At NDP
Dr Tan Hock Lim, Desmond Moey and Dr Ken Lyen wrote the musical Catch the Rainbow which was performed for the National Day Parade 1997. It had a cast of 10,000.
Most Prolific Composer Of Musicals
Dr Ken Lyen is a pediatrician who graduated from Oxford University. He has written 16 musicals including Big Bang! (1995), Yum Sing! (1999), The Magic Paintbrush (2000), Sayang (2001), Song of the Whale (2001), Exodus (2003), Making the Grade (2004) and School House Rockz (2008). He has also co-written 12 books mostly on some aspect of childcare and education.
Largest And Costliest Local Musical
The largest local musical ever staged was Phua Chu Kang the Musical. It was staged at the Singapore Indoor Stadium from 10 to 20 Jun 2005. Over 55,000 people saw the musical which was based on the popular Phua Chu Kang TV sitcom produced by MediaCorp Studios. The musical cost S$3 million to produce. The show’s producers were William Lau and Edmund Ooi.
The longest-running and most travelled musical is Chang and Eng (1997), produced by Action Theatre with music composed by Ken Low. Since its premiere, it has done four local runs. The musical has been to Malaysia, Thailand, and China. It was the first English-language musical to be staged in China.
First Local Western-Style Opera
Bunga Mawar (The Rose), is about Peranakan culture and produced by Singapore Lyric Opera in 1997. It is Singapore’s first locally produced English language opera. The music was scored by Leong Yoon Pin, and the lyrics were written by Prof Edwin Thumboo.
First Professional Children’s Theatre Company
Act 3 was founded in 1984 by Ruby Lim-Yang, R Chandran and Jasmin Samat Simon. It is one of Singapore’s most established names in children’s theatre.
First Winner At Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Woman in a Tree on a Hill, a 1991 play written by Ovidia Yu and directed by Ivan Heng, was the first Singapore play to win the Fringe First Award in 1993 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Most Popular Play
Stella Kon’s Emily of Emerald Hill (1984) is the most frequently produced Singapore play. It has been performed 98 times and has also travelled widely. In 1986, it was the first English-language theatre production from Singapore to be featured at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Longest Performing Female Impersonator
Stage veteran Francis Hogan, 73, a Peranakan wayang female impersonator, has a 48 cm waist, weighs 40 kg and is only 1.4m tall. He started his career debut starring in his own play, Nasib Anak Tiri (Fate of a Step-Child) as the step-daughter in the late 1950s.
First 5D Show
Hello Music Land introduced audiences to a combined cinema and live musical stage show. It was presented via the LICKs 5D format (Live Interactive Cinema for Kids) for two weeks from 24 May 2007. LICKs 5D combines 3D interactive cinema animation, a live musical stage show (4D) and an audience interaction with the stage and screen (5D).
First West End Star
Glen Goei is the first Singaporean actor to receive star billing at London’s West End. He starred as a transvestite Chinese diva-cum-communist spy in the hit musical, Madame Butterfly, from Apr 1988 to Oct 1989. Goei won the Laurence Olivier Best Newcomer nomination for his role. He went on to start London’s first and only Chinese theatre group, Mu-Lan Theatre Company.
First R(A) Play
Chin Woon Ping’s Details Cannot Body Wants was the first Singapore play to receive a Restricted (Artistic) rating, granting admission to viewers above 18 years of age. It was one of two plays staged in the double-bill Renewable Women by the NUS Society and was first performed at the Substation on 12 Sep 1992.
First R(A) Mandarin Stage Play
The first R(A) play in Mandarin was Another Tribe in 1992. Written by Otto Fong, local playwright, cartoonist and science teacher at Raffles Institution, it was staged by Dramabox and featured a homosexual theme.
First R(A) Tamil Play
Vibathu (Accident), a local R(A) play, was staged at the Substation on 10 Oct 1993. Some people walked out during the show due to its obscene language and depictions of incest.
Oldest Theatre Company
The Stage Club is Singapore’s oldest surviving theatre company. Founded in 1945, it is an amateur membership club, which stages about five productions annually.
Youngest Artistic Director
The youngest artistic director of a full-time theatre company is Benny Lim. At 21, he founded The Fun Stage in 2001.
Designer With Largest Portfolio Of Celebrities
Andrew Gn went to Paris in 1992 and has become a successful fashion designer. After being French couture house Perre Balmain’s first Asian artistic director in 1998, he left to strike out on his own. The women who wear his creations include actresses Sarah Jessica Parker, Calista Flockhart, Nicole Kidman, Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece and cosmetics heiress Aerin Lauder.
Largest Fashion Festival
The Audi Fashion Festival featured international designers like DSquared and Roberto Cavalli, who showcased their collections to the growing Asian market. It had a total of 15 fashion shows and more than 7,000 guests at the Tent@Orchard from 28 Apr to 2 May 2010.
Judge Of Most-Watched Fashion Show
Ashley Isham was invited by Tyra Banks to be a guest judge in the fifth season of America’s Next Top Model, aired to a worldwide audience in 2005. Isham set up his own label in 2000 after studying at the London College of Fashion, Central St Martin’s and Middlesex University. His style is sophisticated, concentrating on sharp tailoring and fluid draping. His boutique aQuaint in Conduit Street is the flagship for his collections.
Most Expensive Dress In A Local Movie
Fann Wong wore a Francis Cheong-designed outfit while performing a dance with Korean actor Jyang Hyuk in the movie Dance of the Dragon, a production by Easternlight Films, shot and produced in Singapore. The silk dress was encrusted with 97 diamonds totalling 12.8 carats, sponsored by Soo Kee Jewellery, and 8,000 crystals.
First Singapore Label At International Fashion Show
In 1997, Song+Kelly became the first Singapore fashion label to be showcased at Australian Fashion Week in Sydney. The following year, it was the first local label at New York Fashion Week. It was also the first to appear in international magazines such as American Elle and British Vogue and to be carried by department stores like Barneys in New York, as well as Selfridges and Spaco NK in London. Song+Kelly was started by fashion designers Wykidd Song and Ann Kelly.
Longest Duration Catwalk
A catwalk lasting 4 hr 3 min took place at the Centrepoint atrium on 2 Sep 2006 with 47 volunteer models involved. The event was organised by Frasers Centrepoint Mall.
On 1 May 2009, the Orchard sidewalk in front of Ngee Ann City and Wisma Atria was transformed into a glamorous site with a 163m catwalk for the fashion show. Celebrities, socialites, foreign media and the people from Singapore’s fashion and beauty scene witnessed about 60 models catwalking at the event organised by SPH Magazines’ Female and Nuyou.
Largest International Nails Competition
NailsAsia 2008, organised by BMI BeautyMart, is the largest international nails competition with 122 contestants. The event was held at Suntec City on 26 Feb 2008.
First International Nails Competition
The first international nail art competition was held at the BeautyAsia 2007 at Suntec City on 27 Feb 2007 and 43 contestants from six Asian countries participated. The event was organised by BMI Beautymart International.
Most Prolific Ballet Choreographer
Cultural Medallion winner (1986) Goh Choo San started choreographing at the Dutch National Ballet in 1973. In 1976, he became the resident choreographer of the Washington Ballet. His reputation grew and he also created for companies as diverse as American Ballet Theatre, Paris Opera Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in addition to many others. When he passed away in 1987, he has created 39 ballets which have been staged throughout the world.
First Asian Dancer At Australian Ballet School
Goh Soo Khim, Cultural Medallion winner (1981) was the first Asian dancer to be accepted at the Australian Ballet School in 1964. Known for her innovative dance choreography in works such as the Temple Tone Poem and Goodbye Again which retold dramatic Asian narratives using ballet techniques, Goh was also a co-founder of the Singapore Dance Theatre, which has become internationally renowned for its unique Asian idiom.
First Head Of Internationally Renowned Ballet School
Former Boston Ballet soloist Han Kee Juan, 49, has been the head of Washington School of Ballet since Jul 2007. He is only the third director of the 66-year-old school. Han taught at the North Carolina School of the Arts from 2003. For the decade before that he directed the Arizona Ballet School, training arm of the Arizona Ballet. His training started at the Singapore Ballet Academy when he was in secondary school.
First Outdoor Ballet Concert
In 1995, the Singapore Dance Theatre staged the nation’s first outdoor ballet concert, naming it Ballet Under the Stars. The evening picnic-cum-performance at Fort Canning Green has since become a regular item in the annual Singapore Arts Festival.
First Chinese Dance Scholarship
Serene Tan Xian Lin, born in 1990, went to Beijing to study Chinese dance after her Secondary One. In 2009, she was awarded the NAC Arts Scholarship to do a degree in Chinese dance at the Beijing Dance Academy.
First Dance Studio
In 1937, Low Poh San set up Pohsan Dance Studio at Outram Road, the first to introduce ballroom dancing. Low and his wife Jenny, parents of the famous Sunny Low dancers in the 1960s, became professional ballroom champions in 1946 and from 1950 to 1953.
Largest Private Dance School
Crestar School of Dance offered its first ballet lesson in Singapore in 1977. The dance classes have since grown to an average enrolment of 4,000 students a year in a network of 19 centres in Singapore and Malaysia, offering Bebe ballet, classical ballet and modern jazz dance.
Largest Hip-Hop Dance School
O School was founded in 2006 to provide positive role models for youths through dance. It has enabled young talents to work as dance instructors, performers and choreographers. The centre generated close to half a million dollars in less than two years. It organised The Big Groove, the first and largest hip-hop dance conference in Singapore.
First Ballet Finalist At Genee
Kwok Min Yi, 17, is the first Singaporean to enter the finals of the Genee International Ballet Competition, widely regarded as the Olympics of the ballet world. Kwok was one of the 12 finalists at the competition held at UCC in Sep 2009. Started learning ballet at four, Kwok joined the Singapore Ballet Academy at 13. She received the NAC Scholarship to learn at the English National Ballet School in London.
Longest Reigning Breakdancers
Radikal Forze teammates have already been breakdancing together for 10 years. The team members are Felix Huang, Farhan, Mahmud, Boy, Faiz, Oneski, Wan, Greg, Tosh, Dom, Nic and Dehui. They have won the national annual b-boying, as it is also called, competition in the last four years.
First International Belly Dance Competition
The Asia Global Belly Dancing Competition was held at the National Museum from 3-4 Jun 2006. The competition was opened to both men and women.
First Indian Dance With English Lines
Cultural Medallion winner (1979) Madhavi Krishnan’s work, Thaipusam, which represented Singapore at the prestigious Adelaide Arts Festival in 1971 was acclaimed for pioneering a successful combination of two ancient Indian art forms, the Bharathanatyam and Kathakali. Her later work, Savitri, was also the first Indian dance drama where Indian classical music and dance were integrated with lines spoken in English by actors.
First Cabaret Dances
The first cabaret dances were held in the 1930s at New World Amusement Park at Kitchener Road. Dance girls were mostly local, as well as some from China, Thailand and the Philippines. Customers could engage in their services by purchasing dance coupons priced at one dollar for three dances. There was an entry charge to the cabaret and ordering drinks was also mandatory.
Only Professional Belly Dancer
Darren Ho is the only known professional male belly dancer in Singapore. Belly dancing is performed by men in other countries but not here. Ho won the Asia Global Bellydance Competition in Jun 2007, beating the female participants.
First Legal Bar Top Dancing
At midnight on 31 Jul 2003, the first legal bar top dancing took place simultaneously at three bars: Coyote Ugly, Devils Bar and 37 The Bar. The restriction on bar top dancing was lifted in March that same year.
First Ice Skating Show
The first ever ice skating show in Singapore was held at Capitol Cinema in 1951. The shows featured 40 international ice skating stars including the 1949 Olympic Games champions Elvire Collins and Fernand Leemand.
First Professional Ballet Company
The Singapore Dance Theatre was founded in 1988 by Goh Soo Khim and the late Anthony Then. Under the directorship of Goh Soo Khim, it has developed into a premier professional dance company that has grown from seven to 24 dancers. Over the years, the company performs five to six seasons, including the widely popular Ballet Under The Stars at the Fort Canning Park.
Largest And Most Comprehensive Collection Of Nanyang Artists
The Singapore Art Museum, opened in 1995, has the world’s largest and most important public collection of South-East Asian modern and contemporary art. The collection may be traced to its predecessor, the National Museum Art Gallery, which opened in 1976 to a bequest of 93 works collected by the late Dato Loke Wan Tho. The museum’s collection was augmented in 1994 when it received a donation of 53 works by pioneer painter Georgette Chen.
Earliest Art Association
The earliest art association, the Amateur Drawing Association, was set up in 1909. Its first president was Tan Kok Tiong and the association clubhouse was on Amoy Street. The club had 50 members in its first year and was inaugurated with a talk by Dr Lim Boon Keng.
First Art Institution
The Society of Chinese Artists was established in 1935, making it the first art institution in Singapore. The Singapore Art Society was organised in 1949.
First Art Academy
The Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts was established in 1938 and was initiated by the Singapore alumni of the Jimei School of Art in Xiamen, China. The founder of the academy was Lim Hak Tai, a teacher from the Xiamen Academy of Art and Jimei Teachers’ Training College.
First Society Of Malay Artists
The first Society of Malay Artists was set up in 1949, with Mahat bin Chaadang as President and M Salehuddin as Secretary. The society held its first art exhibition at the British Council in Apr 1949.
First Permanent Art Gallery
The first permanent art gallery in Singapore was established in 1947 at the premises of the Singapore Branch of the British Council, then located adjacent to the Raffles Library (the former National Library) on Stamford Road. This was followed by the National Museum Art Gallery in 1976.
Largest Art Donation To A Museum
In 2008, the Singapore Art Museum received the largest donation from renowned China artist Wu Guanzhong. 89-year-old Wu donated 113 of his works worth S$66 million.
Most Expensive Oil Painting Portrait Donated
The family of tycoon Lim Chee Gee had donated a portrait of their patriach to the Singapore Art Museum on 15 Aug 2008. The work, Portrait Of Lim Loh, as he is also called, was painted by China’s master painter Xu Beihong in 1927. It measures 116 by 77 cm. The paintng has not been valued but Xu’s work has been auctioned for US$9.2 million. War hero Lim Bo Seng was one of the tycoon’s 19 sons.
Most Renowned Watercolour Painter
Cultural Medallion winner (1990) Ong Kim Seng’s watercolour paintings have received worldwide acclaim. He has received the coveted Dolphin Fellowship, awarded by the American Watercolour Society (AWS), New York. He is the first person outside the US to have six awards from the AWS.
First Artist To Have Own Private Museum
Tan Swie Hian, Cultural Medallion winner (1987), is one of Singapore’s most versatile artists. He has created a large body of work in various media including painting, sculpting, printmaking, calligraphy and seal-carving. He has since published 39 books of poetry. The Tan Swie Hian Museum at Sims Ave is one of the rare museums in the world that is dedicated to a living person.
Most Renowned Finger Calligrapher
Wang Sui Pick, Cultural Medallion winner (1992), was known for his mastery of the art of finger calligraphy. He practised the technique of writing with his index finger from the 1920s till his last solo exhibition in 1997.
Most Renowned Paper Pulp Painter And Sculptor
Teo Eng Seng, Cultural Medallion winner (1986), forged new directions in art with his unique medium and form of expression that involved sculpting and painting on paper pulp, which he calls ‘paperdyesculpt’. He has also produced freestanding sculptural works on paperdyesculpt.
First Court Painter
Artist Lee Man Fong (1913- 1988) worked in Indonesia from the age of 19 and was renowned for his paintings of Balinese scenes. In 1961 to 1966 he served as court painter at President Sukarno’s presidential palace. In 1964, Lee, together with Lim Wasim, compiled a five-volume edition of the Sukarno Collection, which featured many of his own works.
Liu Kang (1911-2004), studied art in Shanghai and France before teaching in schools and the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). He continued to paint until shortly before his demise at the age of 93 in 2004.
First Art Collection Podcast
The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore has a modern art collection of 4,200 art pieces. It includes paintings, lithographs and sculptures with works by David Hockney, Andy Warhol and Frank Stella. Valued at approximately S$5 million, 90 percent of the works were specially commissioned for the hotel. Hotel guests may download the link of the 28-min self-guided art tour directly from the hotel’s log-in page when they sign up for internet connection.
Longest Batik Painting
Sarkasi Said, a renowned local batik artist, holds the Guinness record for the longest batik painting measuring 103.9m x 0.55m. On 20 May 2003, at 62 years, he completed the orchid-themed batik using dyes and wax. He slept an average of two hours for five consecutive days to complete the painting.
Longest Cartoon Banner
A group of local cartoonists who called themselves kARTunIS, completed 114.8m of cartoons on a white cloth banner. Eight cartoonists spent about four months at the Malay Heritage Centre, during weekends, to contribute towards the project in 2006.
Building Covered With Most Graffiti
Rozaimie and 20 other graffiti artists spent more than two weeks spray-painting the 12m by 42m facade of the 3-storey high National Youth Centre in Oct 2007. The mural, titled ‘evo*scape’ comes in support of Singapore’s bid to host the first Youth Olympic Games.
First International Award Winner In Sand Sculptures
Tan Joo Heng, born in 1973, won many top prizes in sand sculpting including the Single Master Competition Scheveningen, Netherlands in 2000; the Open European Championship in Blokhus, Denmark in 2002; the Valladolid Sand Sculpting Competition in Valladolid, Spain in 2003; the North American Championship in Virginia Beach, USA in 2006 and the German World Championship in Leipzig, Germany in 2008. Tan is a full-time sand sculptor.
Largest Graffiti Art (Group)
Kamal Dollah, an artist and art educator, together with Dino Hafian, Glenn Koh and Wilmer Phuah, painted graffiti murals on the walls of Telok Ayer Performing Arts Centre. With support from the National Arts Council, Kamal turned the three walls of the former Telok Ayer Primary School into a work of art using spray cans. They completed painting the last wall on 17 May 2007.
Israeli sculptor David Gerstein built Singapore’s tallest sculpture called Momentum Made of steel, it measures 18.35m tall. It was commissioned by One Raffles Quay and Marina Bay Financial Centre. Momentum represents the dynamism of Singapore and its people.
Largest Graffiti Art (Individual)
Graffiti artist Mohd Azlan Ramlan took two months to spraypaint the walls of the Sungei Ulu Pandan for the annual Singapore Street Festival in Oct 2006. 360 cans of spray paint were used to finish four graffiti pieces, each measuring 6m by 2.4m, depicting watersports.
Largest Marble Powder Rangoli
To celebrate the acceptance of Jainism by the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO), the Singapore Jain Religious Society put up Singapore’s largest rangoli using marble powder. Five ladies from Kenya made the intricate rangoli measuring 14 ft by 18 ft at the Kallang Theatre foyer from 3-4 Mar 2006.
First Montblanc Young Artist World Patronage Award
45-year-old Justin Lee became the first Singaporean to have his work selected for the Montblanc Young Artist World Patronage Project. Since 2004, Montblanc has offered exposure for artists in its worldwide boutiques. Finalists received 2,007 euros (S$4,210) each in cash. Replicas of Lee’s work were on display at Montblanc boutiques for a few weeks from Aug 2008.
Paintings Under The Most Trying Conditions
Bombardier Stanley Warren painted the famous Changi murals during his captivity as a British prisoner-of-war at the Changi Prison from 1942 to 1943. Warren was suffering from a severe renal disorder and amoebic dysentery, and could only paint for about 15 min followed by a long rest. After the war, he returned to England but came back to the scene of his captivity three times – in 1963, 1982 and 1988 to restore his paintings.
Largest Visual Arts Display On Water
The largest visual arts display on water was recorded on New Year’s eve in 2009. About 20,000 ‘wishing spheres’ carrying the written wishes of Singaporeans were set adrift on Marina Bay. The event was jointly organised by The Esplanade – Theatres by the Bay and the URA.
First To Win International Cartoon Prize
Heng Kim Song, editorial cartoonist for Lianhe Zaobao, was the first Asian and Singaporean to win the Political Satire Prize for International Cartooning, at the International Political Satire Festival in Italy in 2000.
Cartoonist With Most Published Works In USA
Sonny Liew was nominated for the Eisner Award, a prize given for creative achievement in American comic books. His comic illustrations include titles for DC Vertigo, DC Minx, SLG and Disney, along with the Xeric-awarded Malinky Robot. His first foray into comic illustration was with The New Paper. He had his first break into the American comics industry when he was assigned to illustrate Iron Man for Marvel’s Marvel Universe Millennial Visions title.
Most Prolific Manga Artist
Wee Tian Beng was the first Singapore an artist to break into the international manga markets; in Taiwan with his 1993 comic series Astronautics and in Hong Kong with his Adventures of Wisely in 1994. The Astronautics was serialised in The Century Boys, a Taiwanese comic magazine with 40,000 copies in circulation. His adaptation of Louis Cha’s Return of the Condor Heroes sold 1.5 million copies. In 1999 he began working on the Chinese and English editions of The Celestial Zone. The series was eventually distributed in Asia, Europe, US and Australia. To date, Wee has created more than 100 volumes of manga works.
First Artist To Win Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize
Performance artist Tang Da Wu was the first Singaporean to win the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 1999. The culture prizes were set up in 1990 by the Japanese city of Fukuoka to honour the work of individuals or organisations in Asian cultures.
1,001 students from 21 schools painted 394 woodboards over a period of four months. The boards were combined on 23 Aug 2006 at the National Stadium to form a total length of 946m. Entitled Colours of Life, the project was coordinated by artist Ben Puah.
Most Prolific Sculptor
Milan-born sculptor Cavalieri Rodolfo Nolli came to Singapore in 1921 and found himself to be in high demand. He specialised in stone-like cladding and pre-cast concrete columns, and for the following 15 years was responsible for the faux stonework adorning many public buildings: Supreme Court, Fullerton, City Hall, Bank of China, College of Medicine, Elgin Bridge, Merdeka Bridge and the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. His studio was at 47 Scotts Road.
Largest Rangoli (Individual)
On 3 Aug 2003, Vijayalakshmi Mohan broke the Guinness record by single-handedly creating a rangoli of size 52 ft by 53 ft or 2,756 sq ft (256 sq m) in 7 hr without any breaks. Rangoli is a form of Indian decoration that uses finely ground white powder and colours. The feat was carried out at the Whampoa Community Club.
Largest SE Asian Art Auction
South-East Asia’s largest auction was held at The Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel on 3 Nov 2007. Some 560 art pieces by South-East Asian and Chinese artists were auctioned off and the total value of the pieces was estimated at S$15 million. Heading the list were pieces by well-known Indonesian contemporary artist Masriadi.
Most Expensive Painting Auctioned In Singapore
The most expensive painting auctioned in Singapore was The Deer Hunt painted in 1846 by Javanese artist Raden Sarief Bastaman Saleh (1807-1880). It was sold for S$3,083,750 in Mar 1996 at Christie’s Singapore.
Only Stone Sculptor
Han Sai Por, Cultural Medallion winner (1995), is the only current artist in Singapore to devote herself to sculpting in stone. Her stone sculptures are exhibited throughout the world from Portland, USA, to Suzhou.
Longest Rangoli (Group)
The Indian Activity Executive Committees of Ang Mo Kio GRC and Yio Chu Kang SMC made the longest rangoli to welcome the Prime Minister on 18 Apr 2009 at Anchorvale CC. Led by Vijayalakshmi Mohan, the rangoli measured 98.5m.
Author Of First Origami Book On Hearts
Francis Ow, a hobby origamist, is the first origamist in the world to author an origami book on hearts Origami Hearts. It was published in 1996 and also had UK and US editions. It was also translated into Dutch and Japanese. Ow estimated that he has created about 200 original heart designs.
Longest Practising Origami Artist
Ronald Koh has been practising origami from his childhood till today at 62 years of age. Many of his origami pieces were published in books and other publications worldwide. Koh taught and exhibited at many international origami conventions. He has designed numerous animal pieces and has written a book, Origami Goldfish.
Longest Name Card
Dr Lai Kui Fang has a name card that measures 45 cm long and can be folded into 10 sides. His titles, awards and accolades are printed in both English and Mandarin on the card. Born in 1936, the painter and a sculptor was the first Asian to receive the coveted decoration of Knight of the French Order of Arts and Letters in 1968.
Largest Rangoli (Group)
On 22 Nov 2009, at Tampines Street 21, Vijayalakshmi Mohan, together with Tampines East CC Indian Activity Executive Committee formed the largest rangoli measuring 24.3m by 16.6m. The event was sponsored by Marunda Utama Engineering.
Largest Sand Painting
Monks of the Golden Pagoda Buddhist Temple created the world’s largest sand painting, measuring 12.24m by 12.24m at the Singapore Expo from 15-22 May 2004. The painting, a multi-coloured mandala, was erased shortly after its completion as a symbol of the impermanence of life.
Most Expensive Photographic Print
Russel Wong has often been described as a ‘celebrity photographer’ for his pictures of celebrities. He is the first Singaporean to break into the notoriously difficult Hollywood movie industry. He is also the first Singaporean photographer to have a solo exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum in 2005. His Bamboo Forest print fetched US$40,000.00 at the Christie’s auction in Hong Kong in 2005. The shot was taken on location in the filming of House of Flying Daggers (2003).
Photographer With Top PSA Award
In 1998, Teo Bee Yen was voted one of the top ten photographers in the world (colour print section) by the Photographic Society of America (PSA). Between 1999 and 2002, he was ranked among the top three positions and he eventually achieved the PSA five-star award in 2002. He received the Cultural Medallion in 2004.
First Recorded Photographer
Gaston Dutronquoy was the first known resident photographer in 1839. A native of Jersey in the Channel Islands, he owned the London Hotel in Coleman Street, where he operated his studio. He became the first professional photographer here in 1843.
First Full-time Female Clown
In 1995, while still in junior college, Vivien Goh started performing as a clown, mime artist and ventriloquist. Soon, she started a talent management company – Zephyhdom. Although she usually performs as Sweetheart the Clown, she also builds gigantic balloon sculptures, emcees and organises events.
Largest Chalk Floor Art
On 12 Feb 2010, Fajar Secondary School students completed a chalk floor art which was made up of 40 pictures of logos, symbols and mascots. The chalk art measured 17.6m by 9.6m.
Largest Display Of Sand Art Montage
Members of the NTU Cultural Activities Club and the public made a total of 1,090 art pieces using coloured sand. Each piece measured 16 cm by 16 cm. The event on 27 Mar 2010 at IMM Garden Plaza was part of the Nanyang Arts Festival.
Longest Bronze Mural
The bronze mural, standing 2m tall and running 25m along one side of a wall, separates the Sun Yat Sen Museum from a Burmese temple. It shows large groups of Chinese men who were ordered to report to a Japanese registration centre in a month-long purge of anti-Japanese elements, code-named Sook Ching, which eventually took the lives of thousands. The mural, costing about S$1 million, was sponsored by the Lee Foundation and crafted by a group of artists from China.
World’s Largest Caricature
On 1 Oct 2007, Peter Draw drew the caricature of Jackie Chan on the Concourse (Level 3) of Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre. The 12m by 30m drawing was done in three hours.
Longest Wall Mural
On the stretch of wall outside Chijmes, along Bras Basah Road, is Le Mur Lion (The Lion Wall in French). It was designed by French artist Christophe Tissot and painted by students, taking about six weeks to complete. This 125m wall mural was presented to Singapore by Publicis Eureka in celebration of its 21 years in Singapore.
Earliest Reference To Singapore
Singapore was known to the early Chinese traders as Longyamen (Dragon’s Tooth). The name appeared in Zhao Rukuo’s Zhufanzhi (Survey of Foreign Countries) of 1225. The first eyewitness account of Singapore was written by Wang Dayuan who recorded Dayi Zhilue (Description of the Barbarians of the Isles) in 1349. He made two voyages to South-East Asia in the 1330s.
Oldest Book In The National Library
The oldest book in the National Library is: The History of Trauayle in the West and East Indies, and other countreys lying eyther way, towardes the fruitfull and rich Moluccaes. It was translated into English by Richard Eden and published in London by R Lugge in 1577. The work described the archipelago during pre-British colonial times.
Oldest Map In The National Library
The National Library’s oldest map is entitled: Nova tabula insularum Java, Sumatra, Borneonis et aliarum Mallaccam usquae, delineata in insula Java, Ubi ad Vivum designantur vada et Brevia. It shows Malaya, Singapore, Sumatra, Java and Borneo by Theodore de Bry. It was published in Frankfurt in 1598.
First Annual Directory Published Locally
Popularly called the Straits Times Directory, it was published in 1846. Robert Carr Woods, law agent, advocate, notary public, editor and proprietor of The Straits Times compiled the directory. It contained an alphabetical listing of the names and addresses of residents on the island as well as their professions. It also included brief information on Singapore such as a calendar, dates of festivals and events.
First Scholarly Periodical Published Locally
Logan’s Journal, as it was known then, after its editor, James Richardson Logan, was the first scholarly periodical to be published in the Straits Settlements. It was published in 1847-1855. It contained articles on ethnology, geography, geology, history and the literature of the archipelago.
First Printing Press
In 1822, Claudius Henry Thomsen came to join Samuel Milton, who was the first missionary to Singapore. He brought with him a small press and in 1823, established the Mission Press at the location of the present Raffles Hotel. It was soon printing public documents for the Straits Settlements government. It was later bought by the Singapore Institution and many early books carried the imprint of the Mission Press as well as Institution Press.
First Locally Printed Book
In 1824, the first local book, Political and Commercial Considerations Relative to the Malayan Peninsula and the British Settlements in the Straits of Malacca by John Anderson was printed. It was published by the Mission Press, the first printing office established by the British in 1823.
First Book By Local Authors
A Vocabulary of the English, Bugis and Malayan Languages, the collaboration between Claudius Henry Thomsen and Munshi Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir, became the first locally authored book in 1833.
First English-Malay Translator
Munshi Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir, who taught Raffles Malay in Malacca before they came to Singapore in 1819, continued to be Raffles’ secretary, interpreter and translator of official documents. He was also multi-lingual in Arabic, Tamil and Hindi.
First Published Chinese Book
Three Character Classics for Instruction of Females, a Christian manual by Sophia Martin was the first locally published Chinese book in 1832.
First Literary Magazine For Chinese Migrants
The Xinguomin Zazhi, the associate magazine of the daily newspaper, Xinguomin Ribao, was first published in 1919 and provided an outlet for literary activity of early Chinese migrants. The term ‘Nanyang Style’, later used to refer to art works, was first used to describe writing that emphasised local subject matter.
Earliest Surviving Malay Book
The Substance of Our Saviour’s Sermon on the Mount, published in 1829, was the earliest surviving Malay book.
First Published Tamil Book
The 1887 book by Yazpaanam Sadhasiva Pandithar on Singai Nagar Anthathi, Chithira Kavigal sings the praise of Lord Subramaniayam.
First Newspapers Published In Singapore
Fredrick James Bernard established the Singapore Chronicle, the first issue published on 1 Jan 1824. It closed down in 1837. Singapore’s second newspaper, Singapore Free Press was founded by William Napier. The first issue appeared in Oct 1835.
First Published Letter To The Editor
The first letter written to a newspaper, which was published in The Straits Times on 29 Jul 1845, argued that some of the fees received by St Andrew’s Church should go towards paying for an organist.
First Malay Newspaper
The first Malay language newspaper in Singapore and the region, The Jawi-Peranakan, was published in Singapore in 1876 by Mohammed Said bin Dada Mahyiddin. It was published weekly with an initial circulation of 250 copies. It remained in circulation until Jul 1895. The second Malay newspaper, Sekola Melayu, published by Munshi Mohammed Ali bin Ghulam Al-Hindi, came out on 1 Aug 1888.
First Romanised Malay Newspaper
In 1894, Song Ong Siang, the first Singaporean to be conferred a British knighthood, produced the first Romanised Malay-language newspaper, Bintang Timor. However, due to poor support, it survived for only nine months.
First Chinese Newspaper
The first Chinese daily in Singapore and South-East Asia was the Lat Pau (Le Bao), started on 10 Dec 1881 by Melaka-born See Ewe Lay. The Lat Pau continued for 52 years before folding in Mar 1932, making it the longest running pre-war Chinese daily.
First Tamil Newspaper
The Straits Observer, a Singapore English daily, in its 29 Feb 1876 issue mentioned the Singai Varthamani and the Dinidaya Press. Hence the Tamil newspaper must have started before that.
First Official Street Directory
In Nov 1954, the Government Survey Department issued the first official street directory. Costing S$3, it featured 115 detailed road maps, bus routes, taxi stands, post offices, police stations and electoral district maps.
Most Published Poet
Prof Edwin Thumboo started writing poetry as an undergraduate student in the 1950s. He has published seven volumes of poetry, amongst them Rib of Earth (1956), Gods Can Die (1977), and Ulysses by the Merlion (1979). He won the National Book Development Council of Singapore Award for poetry in 1978 and 1994, and received the Cultural Medallion for Literature in Singapore in 1980. Thumboo has compiled and edited several key anthologies on Singapore literature such as The Second Tongue, The Flowering Tree and The Anthology of ASEAN Literatures.
Most Prolific Playwright
Haresh Sharma (born 1965) has written more than 70 plays that have been staged all over the world, including Singapore, Melbourne, Glasgow, Birmingham, Cairo and London. Sharma achieved a Masters in Playwriting in 1994 from the University of Birmingham.
Youngest Published Author
Dayna Tan read 320 books in one year when she was 9 years old. At 10, she took nine months to write I Read 320 Books at 9, So Can You. The book was launched in 2007. Currently she studies in New Zealand.
Youngest Published Poet
Lim Kar Min, born in October 1993, has been writing poetry since she was six. To date, she has a large collection of writing in the form of prose, poems and short stories. In 2002, her collection of 20 poems – You Can Be A Poet Too! was published. She was then 8 years 10 months old.
Youngest Comic Writer
11-year-old Vivian Too not only did the drawings but also wrote the 10 original fables for her book, The Comic Garden. She was then a Primary 5 pupil at Ahmad Ibrahim Primary School. The book was published in Jul 2007 and sold in bookstores.
Best Selling Author Of Motivational Books
Adam Khoo’s I am Gifted, So Are You, Master Your Mind Design Your Destiny and Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires have sold above 20,000 copies each. A millionaire by the age of 26, Khoo owns and runs three companies with a combined annual turnover of S$20 million.
Largest Collection Of Chinese Literature Writers
Singapore Chinese Writers’ Directory was published in May 2005 by the Singapore Literature Society, Singapore Association of Writers and Bukit Timah Community Club Chinese Literary Centre. It has the largest coverage of Singapore Chinese literature writers, including 485 living writers and 100 who passed away.
First To Win China Essay Writing Competition
In 1990, trainee teacher Chua Chim Kang became the first Singaporean to win an international Mandarin essay writing competition, organised by the China Times in its 13-year history. He won the award in 1990.
First Singapore Literature Prize Winner
Christine Suchen-Lim’s book, A Fistful of Colours, won the first Singapore Literature Prize in 1992. The novel chronicles about 80 years of Singapore history.
Most Widely Read English Novelist
Catherine Lim is the most prolific and widely-read writer of English fiction. From 1978 to now, she has written eight novels and 11 short story collections. Her first two books, Little Ironies – Stories of Singapore (1978) and Or Else, The Lightning God and Other Stories (1980), were incorporated into texts for the GCSE. Her best-selling novel, The Bondmaid from 1995 was reported to have sold 75,000 copies.
First Author With A Million Books Sold
Singaporean author Tham Yew Chin – better known to her readers by her pen name, You Jin, has written 140 books, mostly novels and travelogues. At least 60 of them were published in Singapore, and the rest in China and Taiwan. More than a million copies of her works were sold in China. Her first book was A Glimpse Of Society, a collection of special features she had written for Nanyang Siang Pau and published in 1978. In 1994, A Critical Biography of You Jin by Prof Wang Chunyu from Hainan University, was published in China.
Best Selling Local Series By A Team Of Writers
True Singapore Ghost Stories by Russell Lee and his team of ghost writers is the all-time best-selling local book series. All 20 books in the series sold over a million copies in total to date.
Best Selling Local Series By A Single Author
Mr Midnight is a children’s horror series written by Jim Aitchison under the pseudonym of James Lee. 66 books in the series have been published with over 2 million copies sold to date. It has been translated into Burmese, Malay, Indonesian, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese.
Most Prolific Tamil Writer
Jamaludeen Mohamed Sali arrived in Singapore from India in 1964. He has written 400 short stories, 80 plays and 30 novels. He has also published more than 45 books in Tamil as well as in other translations.
First Children’s Storybook On CD-Rom
Launched in 1994, Willy Wabbit & His Magical Books was the first-ever Singapore-made children’s animated storybook on CD-Rom. It was produced by SEC, a software education organisation and catered to four and five-year-olds.
First Locally Published E-Book
Goh Sin Tub’s One Singapore: 65 More Stories was made available for download to PCs and Palm handheld devices in 2000. It was published by SNP Corporation.
Book Endorsed By Most Doctors Worldwide
Yvonne Lee wrote To All Women Who Want To Enhance Their Breasts Naturally, which was published in 2005. The book has the endorsements of 100 doctors worldwide.
First ‘Gazetted’ Magazine
On 8 Sep 1986, the Asian edition of Time magazine was gazetted for publishing an article critical of the government. A letter from the Prime Minister’s Office, written in response to the article, was not fully printed until October. The government cut circulation of the magazine by 50 percent, deeming it to be engaging in domestic politics. Full circulation was restored nine months later.
Most Editions Of A Single Book On Display
Taoist Federation (Singapore) and Fung Ying Seen Koon (Hong Kong) displayed 305 editions of Lao Zi’s Dao De Jing in 36 languages at Suntec City on 4-9 Sep 2008.
Longest Surviving Chinese Literary Publication
Singapore Literature, which is published by the Singapore Literature Society since Jan 1976, is the longest surviving publication on Chinese literature in Singapore.
First Handwritten Bibles
60,000 participants from 45 local churches contributed to an international Bible writing project called ‘Peoples of the World Inscribe the Bible’. The project, coordinated locally by the Bible Society of Singapore from Nov 2006 to Dec 2008, had participants inscribing two full Bibles in English, two in Mandarin and two New Testaments in English and Tamil respectively. The handwritten Bibles, totaling 132,380 verses, were finally displayed in the House of Bibles in Jerusalem.