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Last Ruler Of Temasek
The Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals) recorded that the last ruler of old Singapore (Temasek) was Iskandar Shah, the founder of Malacca. The Keramat Iskandar Shah located at the foot of Fort Canning is believed to be where he was buried after he died in the early 15th Century.
Major William Farquhar was the Resident in Malacca from 1803 to 1818. He spoke Malay and had an Eurasian common-law wife, Nonya Clement, with whom he had six children. He came to Singapore with Raffles in Jan 1819 and helped negotiate an agreement with the local chieftan Temonggong Abdul Rahman and Sultan Husain Shah. On 7 Feb 1818, Raffles appointed Farquhar as Singapore’s First Resident to develop the British Settlement. In May 1823, he was replaced by the Second Resident John Crawfurd.
Robert Fullerton succeeded John Crawfurd, the second Resident, to become the first Governor of the newly created Straits Settlements, which also included Singapore and Penang. He was in charge from 1826 to Dec 1830.
First Direct British Rule
The East India Company formed the Straits Settlements comprising Singapore, Penang and Malacca in 1826. A Governor was in charge of the Straits Settlements, under the command of the Governor-General in India. On 1 Apr 1867, the Straits Settlement came under the direct control of the British government and became a crown colony.
First Asian Member Of Executive Council
Hoo Ah Kay, nicknamed ‘Whampoa’ after his birthplace, made his fortune in provisioning ships, merchandising, and speculating in land. He later became the first Asian member of Singapore’s Legislative Council and a member of the Executive Council in 1867.
China’s First Consul In Singapore
China’s ruling Qing Dynasty began setting up Chinese consulates in South-East Asia with the rise of wealthy Chinese immigrants. Whampoa Hoo Ah Kay was appointed Singapore’s first Consul in 1877 to strengthen the cultural ties between the Singapore Chinese and China.
Singapore’s very first elections were held on 21 Mar 1948. Only six out of 22 were elected seats while British-appointed officials occupied the rest. The Singapore Progressive lawyer candidates won three of the seats and the other seats went to independents. Voting was not compulsory and was restricted to British subjects only. There were 22,395 registered voters and 14,126 turned up.
Inaugural PAP Meeting
In Nov 1954, the People’s Action Party was inaugurated at a gathering of 1,500 people in Victoria Memorial Hall. It was led by 25 year-old Lee Kuan Yew, as Secretary-General, and founder members Toh Chin Chye, Goh Keng Swee and S Rajaratnam.
First PAP Branch
The first PAP branch was set up at 140 Neil Road, Tanjong Pagar, in Jun 1955. It was also the party’s headquarters from 1955-1957.
First Elections With Self-Government And Chief Minister
This first Legislative Assembly elections was held on 28 Feb 1955 under the framework of the Rendel Constitution (introduced in 1955 to allow Singapore a more self-independent governance). There were 25 elected seats, with the British appointing seven seats. Labour Front party leader David Marshall became Singapore’s first Chief Minister. He served for only a year.
First And Only Chinese Capitan
Tan Kou Sing was appointed Capitan by the British to be the leader of the Chinese community. The title was abolished when the administration of Singapore was transferred from Bencoolen to Bengal in 1824. Tan Kou Sing was a gaming tax collector, trader and contractor.
Government With Smallest Majority
Holding just 39 seats after two by-election defeats and two defections to the opposition, PAP expelled 13 of its Assemblymen in an open political battle between two factions and was left hanging onto a one-seat majority of 26 to 25. When PAP’s Ho Puay Choo joined Barisan Socialis, it brought PAP 25 to 26 against the opposition. Former PAP Assemblyman SV Lingam switched back, and PAP was back with its one-seat majority. Five days later, PAP Minister Ahmad bin Ibrahim passed away to leave a 25 to 25 stand-off in the House. PAP called for general elections and on 21 Sep 1963, won 37 out of the 51 seats.
First Elections For A Fully-Elected House
The first elections for a fully-elected House in self-governing Singapore was held on 30 May 1959. For the first time, voting was compulsory. The People’s Action Party won 43 of the 51 seats contested and opposition leader Lee Kuan Yew became the first Prime Minister of Singapore.
First By-Election In Self-Government
On 26 Apr 1957, David Marshall challenged Lee Kuan Yew to resign and contest a by-election in Tanjong Pagar. Lee readily accepted the challenge but Marshall, announced his departure from politics instead. The by-election proceeded on 29 Jun 1957 and Lee was returned with 67.5 percent of the votes.
Most Contests In A Constituency
The only general elections with 7-cornered contests were held on 30 May 1959. In one of these contests, Sahorah bte Ahmat of the PAP won the Siglap constituency. Mohamed Ariff bin Suradi of the PAP won the Ulu Pandan constituency in the other contest with 7 candidates.
First One Party Government
For the first time, PAP returned to power on nomination day of 17 Feb 1968. On polling day of 13 Apr 1968, it won all seats to return a single-party Parliament.
Longest Speech In Parliament
From 20-21 Nov 1961, Dr Lee Siew Choh, leader of the Barisan Socialis, spoke for seven and a half hours during the debate on Singapore’s proposed merger with Malaysia. His marathon speech, which was broken up by several tea breaks, went from 2.30 pm to 8.00 pm on the first day and from 3.00 pm to 7.00 pm on the second day. In another sitting in 1963, Dr Lee spoke continuously for almost six hours from 11.30 pm to 6.00 am the next morning on ‘the torture in prison experienced by his arrested party members’.
First PAP Election Success
The PAP fielded 5 candidates for its first elections on 2 Apr 1955: Lim Chin Siong for Bukit Timah, Devan Nair for Farrer Park, Goh Chew Chua for Punggol-Tampines, Lee Kuan Yew for Tanjong Pagar and Ahmad Ibrahim as independent for Sembawang. All were returned except Devan Nair. Of the 7,737 votes cast at Tanjong Pagar, Lee Kuan Yew collected 6,029 votes, his first stunning victory.
First And Only Referendum
The Singapore national referendum of 1962, also commonly referred to as the Merger Referendum, was the first and only referendum held in Singapore. The referendum held on 1 Sep 1962 called for people to vote on the terms of merger with Malaysia.
First Singapore Citizens
The Singapore Citizenship Ordinance was passed on 16 Oct 1957 providing Singapore citizenship for all born in Singapore or the Federation of Malaya and for British citizens with two years’ residence. Naturalisation was offered to those who had resided in Singapore for ten years and would swear loyalty to the government. The first day of citizenship registration was 1 Nov that year. Among the first few people who obtained their citizenship certificates were Lien Ying Chow and MPD Nair.
Longest Political Detainee
Chia Thye Poh was the longest-serving political detainee in Singapore. Detained under the Internal Security Act in 1966, he was imprisoned for 22 years and 6 months, and subsequently placed under internal exile for another nine years when his movement was confined to the island of Sentosa. Chia was a former MP for Jurong constituency and a former member of the now defunct Barisan Sosialis.
In the city council elections in Dec 1957, the PAP won 13 seats to make it the largest party in the council. Its treasurer, Ong Eng Guan, became the first Mayor of Singapore.
First Mayors In Independent Singapore
Ow Chin Hock and Eugene Yap were appointed mayors on 29 Mar 1997 to head the newly-formed CDCs.
First Women In The Legislative Council
In 1951, two women became members of the Legislative Council, similar to what the Parliament is now. Elizabeth Choy was nominated to the Council by the Governor after she contested unsuccessfully at the Municipal Elections as an independent candidate. The other was Vilasini Menon who successfully contested for a seat in the Council as an independent.
First Head Of State
The last British Governor of Singapore, Sir William Goode, served as the first Yang Di-Pertuan Negara (Head of State) for six months in 1959 before handing over the position to Yusof Ishak.
Longest-Serving Prime Minister
Lee Kuan Yew was Singapore’s and once the world’s longest-serving prime minister, having served from 1959 to 1990. In 1990, he stepped down as Prime Minister but remained in the Cabinet as Senior Minister. In 2004, he was appointed Minister Mentor.
On 3 Dec 1959, just months after attaining self-government, Yusof Ishak was installed as the Yang Di-Pertuan Negara (Head of State). At the same ceremony on the steps of the City Hall, Singapore’s State Crest, the National Anthem and the Singapore flag were unveiled. The Singapore flag replaced the British Union Jack which had flown over the island since 1819. When Singapore gained independence on 9 Aug 1965, Yusof Ishak was installed as President.
First Elected President
The first Presidential Election was held on 28 Aug 1993, after the Constitution had been amended on 30 Nov 1991 to allow for an elected President with powers to safeguard national reserves and veto appointments to public office. Ong Teng Cheong became Singapore’s first directly-elected President on 1 Sep 1993. He served until 31 Aug 1999.
First Post-Independence Opposition MP
JB Jeyaretnam became the first post-independence MP when he won the Anson by-election on 31 Oct 1981, winning 52 percent of the votes. He retained the seat in the 1984 general elections and was joined by Chiam See Tong, who won at Potong Pasir.
First Speaker Of Parliament
In 1959, Sir George Oehlers became the first Speaker of the Singapore Parliament. He was previously working with Oehlers & Choa, a law firm which he founded with Eric Choa.
Longest Serving Speaker of Parliament
Dr Yeoh Ghim Seng, an eminent surgeon, served as Speaker of Parliament for 19 years from 1971 to 1988. He was also MP for Joo Chiat from 1966 to 1988.
The first Group Representation Constituencies (GRC) was introduced prior to the Sep 1988 general elections. The GRC comprised a team of three members. In later years, it was increased to five or six members.
Tightest Presidential Contest.
The presidential election held on 27 Aug 2011, contested by four candidates, was the most hard-fought in Singapore’s history. Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam with 35.2 percent of the votes was the eventual winner, just 0.45 percent more than Dr Tan Cheng Bock. The other two candidates, Tan Jee Say and Tan Kin Lian managed 25.04 and 4.91 percent of the votes respectively. Coincidentally, all candidates have the same surname.
Longest-Serving Opposition MP
Chiam See Tong won the Potong Pasir seat in 1984. He was the former leader of the Singapore Democratic Party and later headed the Singapore People’s Party. In 2011, Chiam decided not to seek re-election in his Potong Pasir constituency and instead stood in the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC. However, his team was defeated by the PAP team.
First Woman Cabinet Minister .
Mrs Lim Hwee Hua is the first woman to be made a Cabinet Minister. She was appointed Second Minister in the Finance and Transport ministries, as well as a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office in 2009.
Dr Lee Siew Choh was appointed Non-Constituency Member of Parliament for polling the highest votes among non-elected candidates at the 1988 general elections.
In Nov 1990, company executive Leong Chee Whye and heart specialist Maurice Choo were appointed Nominated Members of Parliament. Dr Kanwaljit Soin was the first woman to be appointed as a Nominated Member of Parliament in 1992.
First Opposition GRC
Since the introduction of the GRCs, no opposition parties had ever won a GRC in an election. On 8 May 2011, the Workers’ Party in Aljunied GRC comprising Chen Show Mao, Sylvia Lim, Low Thia Khiang, Muhamad Faisal Bin Abdul Manap and Pritam Singh, were officially declared the winners. 72,165 votes were cast for the Workers’ Party against 59,732 votes for the PAP.
First Private Member’s Bill
The Maintenance of Parents Bill was first moved by NMP Walter Woon in 1994. It was the first legislation emanating from the backbenches to be introduced since Singapore’s independence. The Bill was passed into law on 2 Nov 1995, coming into operation on 1 Jun 1996. Under the Bill, parents above the age of 60 who are unable to support themselves have the right to file to a legal tribunal to claim maintenance from their children. In the first three years after the law was introduced, more than 400 elderly Singaporeans sought aid from the tribunal.
First Birth By MP
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Law, Sim Ann gave birth to a baby boy, the first Member of Parliament to do so while in office. Her son, weighing 3.2 kg, was born on 29 Nov 2011.
First Female Ambassador
In 1989, Chan Heng Chee became Singapore’s first female ambassador, when she was appointed Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Chua Kim Yeow was Singapore’s first Accountant-General, who served from 1961 to 1979.
First Court House
Singapore’s first official Court House was built in 1827 by George Coleman at the site of The Arts House (former Parliament House) and the Court of Judicature functioned from this building from 1827 to 1839 and again from 1875 to 1939. Governor Fullerton and Resident Council Kenneth Murchison presided over the first court hearing on 22 May 1828.
The first Recorder, Sir John Thomas Claridge, arrived in Singapore in 1827, but he served Penang and Malacca in addition to Singapore. The post of Recorder of Singapore was created in 1855 and the first to hold this post was Sir Richard McCausland who arrived in Singapore in 1856.
First Law Agent
Singapore’s first Law Agent, performing the role of magistrate, was William Napier (1833-1847). He arrived in Singapore in 1831 and married George Coleman’s widow, Maria Frances. Napier Road was named after him.
First Criminal Court Session And Executions
Singapore’s first criminal court session was held in Jun 1828. There were 27 indictments, of which six were for murder, one for manslaughter, 10 for burglary and six for assaults. In the six murder cases, two were convicted and hanged in Singapore’s first executions.
First Attorney-General Of The Straits Settlements
Sir Thomas Braddell (1823-1891) came to Singapore in 1862 and started a legal practice called Logan and Braddell. He was appointed Attorney-General in 1867.
First Chinese Magistrate.
Tan Kim Seng (1805-1864), a wealthy Straits Chinese merchant, was also Singapore’s first Chinese Magistrate. He was well-known for donating towards the improvement of the town’s water supply in 1857.
First Asian Justice Of Peace
Merchant, community leader and philanthropist, Tan Tock Seng (1798-1850), was the first Asian Justice of Peace in the Straits Settlements. He had also acted as Kapitan Cina and was often involved in dispute settlement for the Chinese community.
Oldest Law Firms
The oldest law firm still in existence today is Rodyk & Davidson, formed as Woods & Davidson in 1861. Donaldson & Burkinshaw (1879), Drew & Napier (1889) and Allen & Gledhill (1901) were formed soon after.
First Local-Born Lawyer
Song Ong Siang (1871-1941) won the Queen’s Scholarship to study at Downing College, Cambridge University. He was called to the Bar in 1893. He started the law firm of Aitken and Ong Siang with his schoolmate James Aitken.
First Female Lawyer
A daughter of a rubber magnate, Teo Soon Kim studied at Methodist Girls’ School and went to London to study law. She was first called to the Bar of the Inner Temple, and to the Singapore Bar in 1929.
First Senior Counsel
Tan Boon Teik was appointed Senior Counsel on 21 Apr 1989. There are now more than 40 Senior Counsel, lawyers with top-tier advocacy skills in Singapore, appointed by the Senate of the Singapore Academy of Law.
First Locally-Trained Lawyers
In 1957, the Department of Law was opened in the University of Malaya. This enabled the training of the first local lawyers. The first graduates were called to the Bar in 1962.
First Local Advocate-General
In 1959, the first locally-domiciled legal officer, Ahmad bin Mohd Ibrahim, was appointed Singapore’s State Advocate-General, its role similar to that of Attorney-General. He held the post until 1967.
First Chief Justice Of The Straits Settlements
Sir Peter Benson Maxwell (1816-1893) was appointed the first Chief Justice when the Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements was established in 1868. He retired in 1871, following the British occupation.
First Judges Of Appeal
LP Thean and M Karthigesu were appointed as Singapore’s first Judges of Appeal under the revised Appellate Court System in 1993.
First Chief Justice Of The Colony Of Singapore
Charles Murray Murray-Aynsley was appointed the Colony of Singapore’s first Chief Justice in 1946. He retired in Aug 1955 to become Chief Justice of Tanganyika.
First Chief Justices Of The State/Republic Of Singapore
Sir Alan EP Rose was appointed Chief Justice of the State Of Singapore in 1959. On 5 Jan 1963, he was succeeded by Wee Chong Jin who continued to become the Chief Justice of the Republic of Singapore after independence. Wee was the first Asian to be appointed Chief Justice. He retired in 1990 after 27 years at the helm of the Singapore judiciary.
First Judicial Commissioner Appointed
The first Judicial Commissioner, Chan Sek Keong, was appointed on 1 Jul 1986. A Judicial Commissioner is appointed for specific periods of time and may exercise the powers and perform the functions of a judge. In this capacity, he enjoys the same immunities as a judge. In 2006, he was appointed the third Chief Justice of independent Singapore.
First Local High Court Judge
In 1955, Tan Ah Tah was the first local-born legal service officer to be appointed Puisne Judge He served on the High Court Bench for 20 years, until 1975.
First Woman High Court Judge
The first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court Bench was Lai Siu Chiu, who was appointed a Judicial Commissioner on 2 May 1991. She was appointed High Court Judge on 2 May 1994.
First Army Camp
In 1819, barracks were built in Cantonment Road as the first military accommodation to house the East India Company’s Sepoy troops. Other cantonments of troops were stationed in Bras Basah Road.
First Military Conscription
The first compulsory military conscription in Singapore was held in 1915. Only British men aged between 18 and 55 were required to report for military service to quell the mutiny of Indian troops, in which several British officers and civilians were killed.
First Call Up For National Service
The first call up for National Service was announced in 1952 when the British passed a National Service Bill on 15 Dec 1953 at the height of the Communist insurgency. Over 24,400 youths aged 18 to 20 were registered between 5 Apr and 12 May 1954. The first batch of 400 recruits reported for training on 1 Jul 1954.
First Volunteer Corps
The Singapore Rifle Corps began with 61 people in 1854 as part of a concerted action by the European community to counter increasing lawlessness in the country. In 1857, it became the Singapore Volunteer Rifle Corps.
Artillery was contained within the Singapore Rifle Corps in 1854. The corps was disbanded in 1887 to facilitate the formation of the Singapore Volunteer Artillery on 22 Feb 1888. Its motto, ‘In Oriente Primus’ which means ‘First in the East’ is still in use today and can be found on the crest of the Singapore Artillery HQ. It was disbanded with the Japanese invasion.
First Signal Corps
In 1954, the Signal Corps of the Singapore Volunteer Corps was reorganised into the Singapore Military Forces Independent Brigade Signal Squadron. In 1966, the 1st SAF Signals Corps was formed. In 1967, it became the 1st Signal Battalion with CPT Winston Choo as the Commanding Officer.
First Regular Battalion
The first battalion of regular soldiers, the First Singapore Infantry Regiment (1 SIR), was formed on 12 Mar 1957 against a backdrop of impending self-government. Only Singapore citizens and persons born and bred in Singapore were recruited. Out of a total of 1,420 applicants, only 237 were accepted for training.
In 1934, the first local naval force, Straits Settlements Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (SSRNVR) was formed under the British. A Malayan Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (MRNVR) was later formed. Together, the SSRNVR and the MRNVR formed part of the British naval force in South-East Asia. When Singapore gained independence in 1965, the naval force was re-designated the Singapore Naval Volunteer Force (SNVF). In 1975, it was conferred the name, Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN).
First SAF Commandos
The Commandos started in Dec 1969 when the Singapore Armed Forces Regular Unit was formed, with 10 officers and 20 junior ranks. The coveted red beret distinguishes a Commando from the other servicemen. The SAF Commandos are elite soldiers trained for specialised operations to strike at key targets, reconnaissance missions and anti-terrorist action.
Last Of Japanese Occupation
Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander of South-East Asia Command, came to Singapore to receive the formal surrender of the Japanese forces in the region from General Itagaki Seishiro on behalf of General Hisaichi Terauchi on 12 Sep 1945 at City Hall. A British military administration was then formed to govern the island until Mar 1946.
Largest Bombing Of Singapore
On 8 Dec 1941, 17 G3M Nell Bombers of the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Singapore town at 4.30 am. The attack left 61 killed and more than 700 injured. This was the first attack that brought Singapore into the Second World War.
First Navy Vessels
When Singapore became independent in 1965, the entire Navy comprised three vessels. These three vessels were re-commissioned in 1967 to bear the RSS (Republic of Singapore Ship) prefix, the RSS Singapura, the RSS Panglima and the RSS Bedok.
Largest Locally-Built Naval Vessel
The largest naval vessel to be designed and built locally is the Endurance-class Landing Ship Tank (LST), which is a collaborative effort between the DSTA and ST Group. The first such vessel was launched in 1998 and so far, four vessels have been put into operation. The LST measures 141m by 21m and has a top speed of 20 knots. It can carry 350 troops or 18 main battle tanks.
First Naval Bases
The British built the naval base in Sembawang in 1928 and completed it in 1938. It became a commercial dockyard in 1968. Construction of the Brani Naval Base began in 1972 and was completed in 1974. In 2002, the centre was closed and the fleet was redeployed at Tuas Naval Base and Changi Naval Base.
First Air Force
The Air Force started in 1968 with the formation of the Singapore Air Defence Command (SADC). Its first task was to set up the Flying Training School to train pilots. Eight Cessna 172-H aircraft, the SADC’s first, arrived in May 1969 to be used for basic pilot training. When Britain withdrew its forces in 1971, the air bases at Tengah, Seletar, Sembawang and Changi were handed over to the SADC, as well as its air defence radar station and the Bloodhound II surface-to-air missiles. In 1975, the SADC was renamed the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).
First Naval Diving Unit
When the British withdrew from Singapore in 1971, its Far East Fleet Clearance Diving Team (FEFCDT) paved the way for the formation of the SAF Diving Centre, which became operational on 12 Dec 1971. The SAF Diving Centre was officially renamed the Naval Diving Unit in 1975.
First Full-Time National Service Enlistment
The first enlistment for full-time National Service in the SAF was conducted on 17 Aug 1967. 900 enlistees, including 216 civil servants, were enlisted into full-time National Service on that day. The enlistees were sent off from 50 locations all over Singapore.
First Singaporeans To Register For National Service
Ong Wai Meng and Albel Singh were the first Singaporeans to register for National Service on 28 Mar 1967.
First RSAF Fighter Jets And Squadron
In 1968, SADC entered into an agreement with British aircraft company, Hawker Siddeley, to purchase 20 Hawker Hunters which were to be delivered two years later. As a result of the purchase, the first fighter squadron in the SADC, 140 Squadron (known as the Ospreys), was formed in Sep 1970, comprising both local and British personnel.
First SAF Training Institute
Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute (SAFTI) was opened on 18 Jun 1966 by the Minister for Defence, Dr Goh Keng Swee. SAFTI’s first premises were at the Jurong Primary School.
First Batch Of SAF Officers Commissioned
The first batch of 117 SAF officers was commissioned as Second Lieutenants on 16 Jul 1967. The 117 were chosen out of a total of 2,000 applicants, of which 140 were chosen to attend the Officer Training Course at the newly opened SAFTI.
First Two National Service Battalions
On 1 Apr 1967, 3 SIR and 4 SIR were formed at Taman Jurong Camp for the first SAF enlistment. Formal training began on 11 Sep.
First Basic Military Training Centre
Upon enlistment, National Servicemen undergo the basic foundation of combat skills. On 28 Oct 1967, the School of Basic Military Training (SBMT) was formed at Sentosa.
First SAF Armour Unit
In Nov 1968, the first SAF armour unit known as 41 SAR was formed at Keat Hong Camp. The unit, led by MAJ Seah Peng Yong, was also known as the ‘Commando Vehicle Unit’ which operated on the V-200 vehicles.
First SAF Combat Engineers Unit
2LT Gurcharan Singh and 2LT Chng Teow Hua from SAFTI were selected to attend a basic engineer officer’s course in Fort Belvior, USA. Upon completion, they conducted the first Engineer Commanders’ Course, together with their Commanding Officer, MAJ George Mitchell in 1968. The graduate officers and NCOs from the course formed the nucleus of the first Singapore Combat Engineers.
First SAF Military Police Unit
Formed on 1 Sep 1966 at the old Beach Road Camp, the SAF Provost Company initially consisted of one company of military policemen under the command of HQ 1 SIB. In 1971, it became the SAF Provost Unit (SAFPU) and moved to the Mowbray Camp at Ulu Pandan Road. In 2006, it became the SAF Military Police Command.
First SAF Guards Unit
1976 saw the formation of the Singapore Armed Forces Guards Unit (SAFGU). On 1 Jul 1977, SAFGU was renamed as the 1st Battalion, Singapore Guards. The Guards Formation was formalised in 1994 when they started to don the khaki beret.
First And Top US Green Beret From Singapore
Singapore naval officer, LTA Wong Foo Chan, was the first Singapore officer to complete and top the United States Army Special Forces’ Green Beret Course in Oct 2001. He was named Distinguished Allied Officer Graduate at the end of a seven-month course at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
First Female Colonel
Karen Tan, Commander of Central Manpower Base, was promoted to Colonel in Jun 2005.
First Chief Of Armed Forces.
Kirpa Ram Vij is Singapore’s first Chief of Armed Forces and Brigadier-General.He was seconded to the SAF when Singapore gained independence in 1965, and there he helped to start the SAFTI and the Singapore Command and Staff College.
Most Decorated Soldier
In LT-GEN Winston Choo’s illustrious career in the SAF, he has collected more than 27 significant medals. His final one as a serving officer was the Meritorious Service Medal (Military). He was accorded highly prestigious medals from USA, France, Chile, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines.
First Chief Of Defence Force .
LT-GEN Winston Choo joined the army in 1959 and served in various appointments in the SAF, reaching the pinnacle of the military service when he became the Chief of the General Staff in 1974 and the Chief of Defence Force in 1990.
First SAF Chief Medical Officer
Dr David Roy Paul was the SAF’s first Chief Medical Officer in 1966.
First Female Navy Diver
In 2000, Esther Tan became the first woman to be admitted to the Naval Diving Unit. MAJ Tan regularly takes part in triathlons, marathons and adventure races.
First Open Mobilisation Exercise
The first open mobilisation exercise or Mobex was on 7 Jul 1985. A logo of an armed soldier in silhouette, flashing on television and cinema screens, was used as a signal for NSmen to report to camp for mobilisation. Prior to this, the SAF recalled its NSmen mainly through telephone and pager calls as well as physical dispatch by couriers.
First Non-Chinese Chief Of Army
BG Ravinder Singh took up the post of Chief of Army on 11 Mar 2011. He is also, at the age of 46, the oldest in the past 20 years. He retired from active uniformed duty for two years to take up a top Defence Ministry job before being called back to lead the army.
First Sword Of Honour Recipient
Kwan Yue Yeong was awarded the first Sword of Honour as the top officer cadet in the first course conducted at SAFTI in 1967. Before his retirement, COL Kwan was Chief Infantry Officer in the army.
First Female Military Pilot
In her remarkable military career before she retired in 2005, LT-COL Koh Chai Hon has held many important posts, including Squadron Leader and Chief Instructor of Fighter Pilots. She was also a national water-skiing champion.
First Female Sword Of Honour
Debbie Phua topped her cohort of 30 graduates, at the Military Domain Experts Course in Dec 2011. The 24-year-old, who was with the armoured unit, specialises in servicing the Leopard tanks.
First Female RSM
When 1WO ¬Jennifer Tan Siang Lang became 46 SAR’s new Regimental Sergeant Major in Jun 2006, she was also the first female to be appointed as an RSM in the army. Tan’s father was also an RSM in the SAF.
First Police Force
The first police force in Singapore in 1819 numbered 11 men – one sergeant, eight constables, one jailer and a Malay writer. The total monthly budget for the police force was S$300 (paid in Indian rupees) and it was under the command of Francis James Bernard, son-in-law of the first Resident, Major William Farquhar, who took on duties as chief police officer, magistrate, chief jailer, marine storekeeper and assistant to the Resident.
First Police Station
The first police station was stationed at what used to be Francis James Bernard’s attap house built in 1823 on the southern side of the Singapore River.
First Marine Police
The first marine police contingent was formed with two rowing sampans in 1819 to enforce law and order along the waterfront and the waters around the island. The force was headed by a sub-inspector with two corporals and 12 constables under him. The ‘sampan squad’ was headquartered between the present Anderson Bridge and Cavenagh Bridge.
First Riot Control Squad
The first Riot Squad was formed after the Maria Hertogh riots. It became fully operational in Dec 1952. Later renamed the Police Task Force, the officers became known for their distinctive red riot control vehicles in which they travelled. In a major reorganisation of riot control units in Sep 1992, the Police Task Force, Police Tactical Team and the Dog Unit were combined as the Special Operations Command. In 1993, the Police Tactical Team was renamed the Special Tactics and Rescue (STAR).
First Full-Time Head Of Police
The first full-time Commissioner of Police in Singapore was Thomas Dunman (1843-1871). He was a young commercial assistant who was appointed Commissioner in 1857 with a salary of 800 rupees a month.
First Chinese-Speaking European And Protector
William Pickering was appointed the first Protector of Chinese in 1871. At that time, he was the first European to be able to speak and read several Chinese dialects. He helped to curb the secret society activities and stamped out abuses of the coolie trade. Pickering departed from Singapore in 1888.
First Detective Branch
The first Detective Branch in the Singapore Police Force was set up in 1886. In 1903, the Detective Branch was renamed Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
First Police Uniforms
The police were issued with regular uniforms in 1863. The first uniform consisted of dark blue serge coat, trousers, cap and black shoes. The police force changed to khaki cotton shorts in 1890. In 1969, it changed to a dacron blue uniform.
First Police Headquarters
The first police headquarters in Singapore was located at South Bridge Road and started functioning in 1905. The headquarters was moved to Pearl’s Hill in 1954.
First Police Steamship
The early police force was quite powerless against piracy until the coming of steamships. Five pirate boats actually sailed and rowed towards the paddle steamer Diana in 1837. When they realised that Diana was moving towards them against the wind, they were horrified and started to flee. Soon enough the pirates were caught and killed.
First Motorised Ambulance
The first motorised ambulance in Singapore was introduced on 7 May 1917. It was called the Hospital Board Motor Ambulance and was parked at the Central Fire Station and supervised by the brigade’s officers.
First Traffic Police And Coast Guard
The Traffic Branch of the Singapore Police Force was set up in 1918 and the Marine Branch (forerunner of the Police Coast Guard) was set up in 1916. A Communications Branch was set up in 1936.
First Purpose-Built Prison
Outram Prison was built at the foot of Pearl’s Hill in 1847. Before that, convicts were housed in attap houses in the vicinity of today’s Empress Place, and later at Bras Basah Road. The prison was demolished in 1968 to make way for public housing.
First Arms Law
The first arms law in Singapore was passed in Mar 1823, which restricted the bearing of arms to only 24 of the Sultan of Johor’s most responsible followers. The rest of the population were forbidden to carry weapons.
First Internal Security Department
The Internal Security Department was set up in 1916 after the outbreak of the Sepoy Mutiny in Singapore on 15 Feb 1915. It was called the Criminal Intelligence Department and was headed by Victor George Savi, a member of the first batch of police cadets. The department was later renamed Criminal Intelligence, Special Branch in 1925. It was just Special Branch from 1931.
First Police Force Band
The first police force band in Singapore was set up in 1925, when it was founded as the Second Straits Settlements Police Band. FE Minns was its first Bandmaster.
First Fire Force
In Apr 1869, the first formal Volunteer Fire Brigade in Singapore was formed. Volunteer fire-fighters were notified of fires by the firing of the artillery guns on Fort Canning. The first fire engines were attached to horse-drawn carriages equipped with hand-operated pumps.
First Fire Engine
The first fire engine that arrived in Singapore in 1884 was a horse-drawn steam fire engine, which could raise pressure quickly and produce powerful jets of water.
First Gurkha Contingent
The first Gurkha contingent of the Singapore Police Force was formed in Apr 1949 to replace the Police Sikh contingent, which was decimated during World War II.
First Auxiliary Fire Service
The first Auxiliary Fire Service was formed on 30 Mar 1939 with over 200 volunteers, including the officers and firemen recruited.
First Auxiliary Police
The first Auxiliary Police Force was formed in 1939 and by 1941, it had 250 men in its ranks.
First Fire Chiefs
The first professional fire fighter in Singapore was Montague Pett from England. He is credited with modernising the Singapore Fire Brigade in the 1930s and is remembered as the Father of the Singapore Fire Brigade. Lee Yong Kwang was Singapore’s first local fire station officer in 1913.
First Fire Stations
The Singapore Fire Brigade was formed in 1888 and three fire stations were built at Cross Street, Hill Street and Beach Road. However they were insufficiently equipped to deal with major fires. To solve this, the Central Fire Station at Hill Street was built in 1909 as its new headquarters. Its distinctive red bricks were imported from England.
First Motorised Fire Engine
The first steam fire engine introduced in Singapore was the Fire King, which arrived in Singapore in May 1906. This replaced the hand-operated pumps. The Fire King was made by England’s leading fire engine manufacturer Merryweather. In 1927, petrol-driven engines replaced steam engines.
First Local Police Commissioner
The first local Commissioner of POlice appointed in 1963 was John Le Cain. the eurasian was one of four Asian officers to be promoted to Assistant Superintendent after World War II.
First Women Police Officers
The first female police officers were 10 women who joined the Singapore Police Force in 1949. One of these women, Mary Quintal nee Woon was made Inspector in 1951 and promoted to be the first Officer Commanding Women Police in 1969. She retired in 1974.
First Full-Time Female Aide To The President
In 2006, Major Poh Li San became the first woman to be appointed full-time aide-de-camp to the President. Poh was the former flight commander of a helicopter squadron in the Air Force. An aide-de-camp aids the President in protocol and ceremonial matters, including escorting visiting heads of state.
On 2 Dec 1978, Singapore had its heaviest rainfall. During the 24-hr period, the highest ever measurement of rainfall was recorded at 512.4 mm by the Singapore Meteorological Service station at Paya Lebar. It was also the time when Singapore conducted its biggest flood rescue and evacuation operation. The worst hit areas were Potong Pasir, Braddell Road and Paya Lebar.
The biggest fire in Singapore broke out on 25 May 1961 at Bukit Ho Swee, in which 25 ha were destroyed including two oil mills, 3 ¬timber yards and three motor workshops, leaving 4 people dead and 3,000 homeless. 22 fire engines were called out to fight the blaze.
Biggest Fire In A Single Building
In Nov 1972, fire broke out at the Robinson’s department store at Raffles Place. 9 people died and losses amounted to around S$21 million.
Longest Fire On 25 Oct 1988, fire broke out at the Pulau Merlimau oil refinery, lasting for more than 113 hours. Three storage tanks went up in flames, causing losses of more than S$10 million.
Most Fire Breakouts Occurring At A Place
The Gay World Amusement Park built in 1936 as Happy World, was ravaged by fire in 1962 (twice), 1972, 1976 and 1977. It was closed in 2000.
First Secret Societies
The Ghee Hin and Ghee Hok were the first two secret societies operating in Singapore in the 1820s. Established in Penang in 1819, the Ghee Hin was a Hokkien-dominated society, while the Ghee Hok included branches from other dialect groups.
Singapore’s first executions were held in June 1828, when a Chinese and Indian were found guilty and convicted for murder.
Worst Industrial Accident
The Greek tanker Spyros exploded at Jurong Shipyard on 12 Oct 1978. It caused a fire, leading to 76 dead and 69 injured. It is the worst accident, in terms of lives lost, in Singapore’s post-war history.
Worst Building Disaster
When six-storey Lian Yak Building, which housed Hotel New World, collapsed suddenly on 15 Mar 1986, 50 people were trapped beneath the rubble. 17 were later rescued and 33 died. Built in 1971, the building was situated at the junction of Serangoon Road and Owen Road.
Rickshaw pullers were responsible for Singapore’s first major strike on 8 Jan 1897. During that time, there were over 20,000 pullers. Due to the many old and poorly maintained rickshaws, the government attempted to step in with some regulations. The standards, however, proved to be too high, and were not well received by the rickshaw owners who called for a strike. Four days later, the government instructed the rickshaw pullers to go back to work.
Largest Air Rescue
On 29 Jan 1983, the derrick of the Eniwetok, a Panamanian-registered oil rig, struck the cable of the Sentosa Cable Car and caused two cable cars to plunge 55m into the sea. The disaster caused 13 people to be trapped in 4 other cable cars between Mount Faber and Sentosa. A total of 7 people died in the tragedy. RSAF helicopters fitted with floodlights approached the cable cars with the airman winched down to enter the cable-car and pull out the rescued one by one, until all 13 passengers were brought to safety. The rescue took three and a half hours of risky hovering in darkness and high wind conditions.
First Aircraft Hijacking
Singapore Airlines Flight 117 was hijacked on 26 Mar 1991, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. SAF Commandos stormed the Airbus at 6.50 am on 27 Mar. The operation was over in 30 sec and 123 passengers and crew were freed. All 4 Pakistani terrorists were killed by gunfire.
First Hijacking By Terrorists
On 31 Jan 1974, terrorists from the Japanese Red Army bombed petroleum tanks at Pulau Bukom, hijacked the ferry boat Laju and took some crew member as hostages. The terrorists demanded the release of their jailed comrades in other countries.
Worst Bombing By Terrorists
The worst bombing committed by terrorists occurred on 10 Mar 1965 at the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank building (now known as MacDonald House) along Orchard Road. A time bomb was planted by Indonesian saboteurs, which killed 3 people and injured at least 33. Two Indonesian Commandos, Harun Said and Osman Hj Mohd Ali, who were members of the Korps Komando Angkatan Laut (Indonesian Marineers) were later convicted and executed. The event occurred during the turbulent Konfrontasi period.
Highest Fine Charged To An Individual
Lean Cheong Keng, 36, a bookie who raked in S$4.65 million in soccer bets over one year was fined S$1 million in Sep 2002. This is believed to be the highest fine handed out to an individual. Lean was also jailed for 4 years.
On 21 Jul 1964, riots among the Malays and Chinese that occurred between Kallang and Geylang Serai, left 23 people dead and 450 injured. 2,500 people were arrested, including 600 secret society members. 256 people were arrested for possession of dangerous weapons. A curfew was declared to restore order, but the killings continued until the next day. It was only lifted for short periods for people to buy food. It was completely lifted on 2 Aug, 11 days after the start of the riots. There was also significant damage to properties and vehicles.
Highest Sentence For Bribery
The biggest case in the CPIB’s history is that of PUB deputy chief Choy Hon Tim, who was convicted in 1995 of taking nearly $14 million in kickbacks. He was jailed for 14 years, the highest for this offence.
Worst Serial Molester
Martin Tan Chye Guan, who was a parcel courier and a part-time property agent, was described in his prosecution as the worst serial molester in Singapore. He preyed on a total of 28 young girls, most of whom were students returning home from school. On 2011, he was sentenced to 10 years’ jail and 21 strokes of the cane.
Biggest Commercial Fraud Case
Between 1999 and 2002, Chia Teck Leng, a finance manager at Asia Pacific Breweries, used forged documents to cheat 4 banks of more than S$117 million. It was the biggest financial fraud case in Singapore history. He was jailed 42 years, the longest for a white-collar crime.
Biggest Drug Haul
In Mar 1998, 47.3 kg of heroin was seized from a syndicate by the Central Narcotics Bureau. A total of 29 suspects were rounded up over 3 days. The second biggest drug haul was in Aug 2001 when 11 men and 2 women were arrested. 34.8 kg of drugs were seized.
Oldest Person Placed On Probation
61-year-old Siauw Yin Hee, suffering from depression and kleptomania, had been caught several times for his impulsive stealing. Since 1985, he had been fined and jailed many times. For his latest offence on 5 Jul 2007, a S$10,000-bond had to be signed by his wife to ensure his good behaviour, his regular medication and that he followed the terms of the probation.
Largest Single Haul Of ‘Ice’
Approximately one kg of methamphetamine, also known as ‘ice’, an illegal and harmful drug, was seized on 27 Oct 2011 from a car during an intensive check by the Central Narcotics Bureau at the Woodlands Checkpoint. The street value of the drugs was worth more than S$262,000.
First Person To Be Jailed For Possession Of A Nunchaku
The nunchaku is a Japanese weapon comprising 2 wooden stubs connected to a metal chain. This traditional Japanese weapon was banned in Singapore since 1972. On 15 Aug 1975, 23-year-old Sethupillay Rajaretnam was arrested for possessing a nunchaku. His defence – he was holding it for his friend who had gone off with a prostitute.
When Mas Selamat escaped from Whitley Road Detention Centre on 27 Feb 2008, the search for him was described as the largest manhunt ever launched in Singapore. Thousands of police and military personnel combed the island looking for him. Mas Selamat was allegedly the head of the Singapore branch of militant group Jemaah Islamiah and had previously escaped custody twice in Indonesia. He was recaptured on 1 Apr 2009 in Johor.
First Postal Service
From 1819 to 1822, the British military administered a lone mail office. Occupying the location of the Old Parliament House, the office collected and delivered a small number of letters. In 1823, it became a branch of the Indian Postal Service, as some administration in Singapore were controlled by the British in India.
First Postal Stamps
In 1854, postage stamps were first introduced in Singapore. These stamps were shipped from India, as Singapore was then part of the Straits Settlements that was administered under the British East India Company.
First And Only Use Of Bisected Stamps
From 1855 to 1860, there was a shortage of stamps. Eight-pie, one-anna, two-anna, four-anna and eight-anna stamps were cut in halves to double the quantity. These were the first and only bisected stamps in Singapore.
First Stamps Issued By The State Of Singapore
Singapore was self-governing in 1959. The ‘New Constitution’ stamps were the first stamps issued when Singapore became a self-governing state.
First Stamps Issued By The Republic Of Singapore
Singapore gained independence on 9 Aug 1965. A series of 3 stamps were issued on 9 Aug 1966 to commemorate Singapore’s first anniversary of independence.
The first Singapore non-value indicator (NVI) postage stamps were issued in 1995 with the phrase ‘For Local Addresses Only’ printed on it. It can only be used for standard letters within Singapore of up to 20g.
World’s First Beaded Postage Stamp
To commemorate the opening of the Peranakan Museum on 8 Apr 2008, SingPost issued a unique pouch-shaped collector’s sheet intricately pasted by hand with ‘caviar beads’. It was inspired by the exquisite beadwork which is a distinctive aspect of the Peranakan culture.
First Stamp Design Competition
A stamp design competition was organised in Dec 1942. In Apr 1943, the Japanese pictorial series was issued to replace the Straits Settlements stamps.
First Personalised Stamps
In May 2005, SingPost launched a unique service that allows customers’ photos, messages or logos to be printed instantly on the blank tab beside each stamp to add a personal touch to their mail. The service is only available at MyStamp counters – at the Changi Airport, Suntec City and the Singapore Philatelic Museum.
First Postbox Art Competition
The ordinary postbox became a canvas for an art competition launched in Jan 2007. It was organised by the URA, design group FARM and Singapore Post. 1,000 participants submitted their original artwork for postboxes facades, out of which 40 designs were shortlisted. The colourful postboxes, located along Orchard Road, City Hall, Shenton Way, Little India, Kampong Glam and Chinatown, were painted by the finalists over two Sundays in Mar 2007.
First Embroidered Postage Stamp
On 6 May 2009, SingPost issued Singapore’s first embroidered appliqued stamp. The petals of the Pigeon Orchid on the stamp are exquisitely embroidered showcasing the offset lithography with embroidery printing technique. Limited in quantity, this special collector’s sheet cost S$8, and came with a folder.
The first international postcards were introduced in 1879 into the Straits Settlements by the Postal Department, costing one cent for each card and 5 cents for postage, while private postcards cost 8 cents for postage. On 15 Dec 1884, the Postal Department introduced local postcards for use within the Straits Settlements and the Malay States, costing one cent each.
Biggest Postcard Exercise
160,000 people from Singapore sent a postcard telling their overseas friends about Singapore in the Singapore Tourism Board’s Mail-a-Postcard Competition first launched in 2003. The postcards were mailed for free.
Most Prolific Stamps And Currency Designer
Eng Siak Loy started his career as an artist in the 1960s. He has since designed 56 sets of stamps and 18 sets of coins. He is also the first Singaporean to design the entire series of dollar notes that are in circulation. He has won many awards, one of which is the President’s Design Award in 2007.
Oldest Operational Postboxes
Pillar boxes were introduced in Singapore in 1873 and were found everywhere, until 1971 when they were replaced by rectangular posting boxes. The pillar box outside the Singapore Philatelic Museum was re-commissioned to operate when the museum opened in 1995. In 2010, Fullerton Hotel, which used to house the General Post Office, commissioned two red boxes in its premises.
Smallest Currency Note
The smallest note in Singapore was the S$1 note. It measures 121 mm by 64 mm. It was first issued on 12 Jun 1967. The front of the note had a picture of Vanda Janet Kaneali and the back a picture of housing blocks of flats. 420 million pieces were printed.
Largest Currency Note
The largest note in Singapore, a S$10,000-note, measures 203 mm by 133 mm. It was first issued on 29 Jan 1973. It had a front design of Aranda Majulah and a back design of the Istana. 200,000 pieces were printed.
First Paper Money
The first paper currency used in Singapore was issued by private commercial banks in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were issued by a number of banks such as the Asiatic Banking Corporation, Oriental Bank Corporation, Chartered Mercantile Bank of India, London & China and Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. (caption: HSBC note issued in 1886)
Most Valuable Currency Note
The first S$10 polymer portrait commemorative note with serial number MAS000001 was auctioned for US$18,000 (S$29,810) on 6 Nov 2004.
First Polymer Note
S$50 commemorative polymer notes were issued in 1990 to commemorate the nation’s 25th anniversary of independence.
Longest Text On A Currency Note
The entire lyrics of the Singapore national anthem are printed on the back of the S$1000 portrait series banknote in microprint. For all other denominations, only the words ‘Majulah Singapura’ are used.
First Currency Note Jointly issued With Another Country
Since 1967 the Brunei dollar and Singapore dollar can be exchanged at par, without charge, in each other’s country. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the currency interchangeability agreement, the two countries jointly launched the new $20 polymer notes. The size of both notes is 149 mm x 72 mm.
The smallest coin in Singapore is a 0.3-gm 999.9 fine gold coin. It features a monkey bearing the precious longevity peach, a symbol of long lasting wealth, prosperity and peace for the Chinese New Year. Issued on 27 Dec 2003, it measures 7 mm in diameter, weighs 0.3g and has a face value of S$1.
Largest Denomination Coin
The S$150 Raffles Lighthouse 22 karat gold coin was issued in 1969 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of Singapore.
First Coloured Coins
The 2004 Singapore Identity Plan coins marked the first time that coloured coins were issued. The coins were based on the ‘old world charm’ of Balestier, Jalan Besar, Joo Chiat and Tanjong Katong.
The largest coin is a 5-oz 999 fine silver proof coin which weighed 155.52g and measured 65 mm in diameter. Having a face value of S$25, it was issued on 29 Dec 2004 to usher in the Chinese Year of the Rooster in 2005.
Largest Power Generation Company
Senoko Power is the largest of the 5 operating power generation firms in Singapore, and supplies about 30 percent of the Republic’s electricity needs. It was the first to utilise natural gas for power generation in 1991.
First Street Lamps
In 1824, the first street lamps, which were lit by oil, were installed. In 1864 the first gas lamps were used to light the streets. The first electric street lamps lighted up in 1906 when power became available.
First Piped Water Supply
The early local population relied on wells for their water supply. In 1857, Tan Kim Seng offered the government a princely S$13,000 to finance Singapore’s first waterworks and to pipe the water to town. Only in 1878, 14 years after his death, did water from MacRitchie Reservoir manage to reach town and then only for 12 hours a day.
First Public Electrical Supply
Electricity was made available to the public for the first time in 1906. It was purchased from the Singapore Tramways Company, which had built a power station for its public transportation system. The power was distributed to consumers in the main town areas. The first use of the electrical lights was the illumination of the newly completed Victoria Memorial Hall.
First Power Station
St James Power Station was Singapore’s first coal-fired power station, built in 1927. It started with a generating capacity of 2 megawatts. The building is now an entertainment complex for music and nightlife.
The Deep Tunnel Sewerage System was built by PUB from 2000 to 2008. It comprises a 48-km long deep tunnel sewer running from Kranji to Changi, a centralised water reclamation plant at Changi, two 5-km long deep sea outfall pipes and 60 km of link sewer. The water reclamation plant has a capacity of 800,000 cu m per day.
First Piped Natural Gas
15 Jan 2001 marked the first delivery of natural gas from Indonesian state-owned company Pertamina to SembCorp Gas, a subsidiary of SembCorp Industries. Through an undersea pipeline, SembCorp Gas imports 325 million cu ft of natural gas a day from West Natuna Sea in Indonesia, which is fully utilised by major power generation and petrochemical companies. With this supply, SembCorp Gas became the first commercial importer and retailer of natural gas in Singapore.
First Gas Supply
The first gasworks started in Kallang in 1862 using coal as a feedstock. In the late 1980s, gas was manufactured from naphtha at the Kallang Gasworks. It was demolished in 1998.
First Sewerage System
An experimental plant was set up in 1898 for the disposal of nightsoil. This plant used coal fire to boil nightsoil reducing the solids to powder for farmers’ use. This plan was discontinued in 1904 as it was expensive to run and farmers did not like the manure. From 1912-1917, R Peirce, the then Municipal Engineer implemented a scheme of sewers that drained into the new sewage disposal works at Alexandra Road where it would be treated by trickling filters and humus tanks before discharging into the Singapore River.
First Two-Pail Nightsoil System
In 1913, the government introduced a two-pail system of nightsoil-removal in Tanjong Katong. Before this, refuse used to be disposed of by dumping or through private arrangements with farmers. The bucket system was completely abolished in the 1970s.
Largest Waste Management Company
SembWaste, part of the SembCorp Environmental Management Group, is Singapore’s largest waste management company. It provides waste management services to more than 400,000 households, industrial trade premises and healthcare establishments.
World’s First Offshore Landfill
The Semakau Landfill, operational since 1999, covers a total area of 350 ha and a filling capacity of 63 million cu m. Pulau Sakeng and the original Pulau Semakau were joined together via a 7-km perimeter rock bund to form the landfill. Incinerated refuse are brought to the site by barges. It is the world’s first offshore landfill created entirely from sea space and one of the largest.
First Land Reclamation Project
The first reclamation project that took place in 1822 under Stamford Raffles’ supervision was called South Boat Quay. The swampy south bank of the Singapore River was levelled and filled with earth, making the site suitable for building. By 1860, 75 percent of all businesses from godowns and offices were conducted along Boat Quay.
Largest Incineration Plant
Tuas South Incineration Plant is the fourth and largest refuse incineration plant in Singapore. Built at a cost of S$890 million and completed in Jun 2000, it was designed to incinerate 3,000 tons of refuse daily. The plant is sited on 10.5 ha of reclaimed land.
Fastest Growing Country Through Land Reclamation
Singapore’s land area has grown from 581.5 sq m in the 1960s to 723.2 sq m today. It may grow by another 100 sq m by 2030.
First Government Housing Board
The Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) was set up in 1927 by the British colonial government to solve the housing needs of the growing population of Singapore. One of its earliest major projects was the Tiong Bahru housing estate. However, SIT managed to build only 23,000 housing units in 32 years. It was eventually dissolved and replaced by the Housing and Development Board.
Largest Underground Ammunition Storage
The underground ammunition facility in Mandai is the largest underground storage space at 300 ha. It was opened in 2008 and carved out of solid granite. The storage facility has been described as an engineering achievement, setting new standards in underground storage safety and efficiency.
First Statutory Board
The Housing Development Board was formed in 1960 to provide affordable housing for a fast-growing population.
First Community Centres
The first community centres, Serangoon and Siglap, were opened in May 1953 to foster community development, encourage participation in grassroots activities, and promote grassroots leadership.
First Community Centre At A School
Pek Kio CC is the first community centre to be co-located with a school. Opened in 2013, it share facilities with Farrer Park Primary School.
First Community Centre With A Swimming Pool
Senja-Cashew Community Club is the first fully integrated CC and sports complex. It boasts of a children’s pool with a water playground feature, an infinity pool with jacuzzi and a larger 8-lane pool.
First Family Service Centre
The first Family Service Centre was set up in MacPherson in 1976 to provide social services in the heartlands. More than 30 centres have been opened to date.
Largest Underground Oil Storage
Jurong Rock Caverns is South-East Asia’s first underground liquid hydrocarbon storage facility. It is located at a depth of 130m beneath Jurong Island. The cavern provides infrastructural support to manufacturers on Jurong Island and meets the storage needs for liquid hydrocarbons
Longest Serving Grassroot Leader
In 1960, Phua Kim Ho was only 20 when he helped in the earliest days of the Kampung Glam Community Centre. To date, he is one of the two longest-serving grassroots leaders in Singapore. He now serves as chairman of the Kampung Glam CSC, a position he held since 1978.
Largest Youth Movement
Young NTUC, the youth wing of NTUC, is by far the largest youth movement in Singapore. Since its launch in 2005, it has grown to a community of more than 120,000 youths, aged between 18-35 years old.
First Residents’ Committee
The first Residents’ Committee was set up in Marine Parade Constituency in 1977.
The first National Day Parade was held at the Padang on 9 Aug 1966, exactly one year after independence. The first few NDPs were held in the morning, starting at 9am.
Only NDP With Foreign Guest Of Honour
The 1969 parade not only celebrated Singapore’s fourth birthday but also the 150th anniversary of its founding by the British. Princess Alexandra of the UK was a special guest at the parade and this was the first time fanfare trumpets were featured in the military band, playing the national anthems of both the UK and Singapore.
Most Popular NDP Soloist
Kit Chan was the first local pop singer to sing the National Day theme song. In 1998 and 2004, she sang Home during the National Day Parade. In 2007, she sang the theme song There’s No Place I’d Rather Be during Singapore’s 42nd birthday. This makes Chan the only singer to have performed the NDP theme song three times.
Largest Collection Of NDP Memorabilia
Retiree Choo Khoon Hock, 69, is a most ardent fan of NDPs. As at Aug 2009, he has attended 44 parades, both live and from outside the venue. He collects the parade memorabilia and displays them in one of the rooms in his flat.
First Song Commissioned For National Day Celebrations
The first song to be commissioned for National Day Celebrations was Stand Up for Singapore in 1984.
First National Day Webcast
The NDP was first beamed live via a webcast on 9 Aug 2001 by ¬MediaCorp 1-Net.
First Public Debut Of Newater
Newater was officially made available to Singaporeans at the 2002 NDP.
First Female NDP RSM
Master Warrant Officer Jennifer Tan Siang Lang was the first woman to be honoured with the appointment of parade Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) for the 2011 NDP. She was also the first female in the army to be appointed as a RSM in 2006 when she became 46 SAR’s new RSM.
Largest Water Curtain
At the 2007 NDP at the Marina Bay, a 30m high and 90m wide water curtain was used with visual effects provided by six image projectors.
Youngest NDP Creative Director
35-year-old Goh Boon Teck was appointed the creative director for the 2007 NDP. At 19, Goh founded Toy Factory Theatre Ensemble with 11 other theatre practitioners in his puppetry class. Its first production was Redear, a physical theatre piece staged at The Substation in 1991.
Biggest LED Screen
At the 2004 NDP in the National Stadium, a LED screen, measuring 31m x 7m, consisting of 23 separate panels in width and 7 panels in height was used. The setup was also one of the largest outdoor screens in the world.
First Orchard Road Christmas Light-Up
On 13 Dec 1983, Orchard Road was illumin-ated with Christmas lights for the first time, stretching from Ming Court Hotel (now Orchard Parade Hotel) to outside the Istana. It was organised by the Singapore Tourism Board and has since been an annual event.
First Gala Dinner In Singapore
The first official gala dinner in Singapore was held on 6 Feb 1824. It was hosted by the Resident John Crawfurd, for Europeans to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Singapore settlement.
First Orchard Road Street Party
The first time a major road was closed for partying was on 8 Aug 1988 on Orchard Road to commemorate Singapore’s 23rd National Day. It featured a variety show, which started at 11pm and ended at 2am with a midnight countdown and popping of champagne by then Deputy Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong.
First Swing Singapore Party
250,000 people attended the first-ever Swing Singapore party held on 28 Aug 1988 on Orchard Road.
First Christmas Street Party
On 24 Dec 1988, the first Christmas street party was held from around 7pm, along the stretch of Orchard Road, Scotts Road and Killiney Road.
First Chingay Procession
The People’s Association and the Singapore National Pugilistic Federation came together to add to the gaiety and excitement of the Chinese New Year season in 1973 involving some 2,000 participants at the first Chingay procession.
Largest Beach Party
More than 27,000 people thronged Siloso Beach on11 Dec 2010 for the ZoukOut beach party that lasted until the next morning. The event, Southeast Asia’s biggest dance music festival, featured world-renowned DJs David Guetta and Tiesto.