Week 7: 12 Feb to 18 Feb

12 February

By the morning of 12 February 1942, the British lines were being pushed backed. Tomforce fell back from Reformatory (Clementi) Road to Racecourse when the Japanese overran the supply depots at Rifle Range. By the end of the day they would retreat all the way back to Adam and Farrer Road.

The Labrador Battery, as part of Faber Fire Command, was manned by the 7th Coast Artillery Regiment. The guns were used chiefly in conjunction with those of Fort Siloso against enemy targets at sea. On 12 February 1942, they fired on and sank a Japanese ammunition ship which was travelling west near St. Johns Island. They also fired on and sank both empty lighters and those full of ammunition which had come loose of their moorings in Keppel Harbour. This was to prevent them drifting out to sea and being captured by the Japanese.

The Home Ownership for the People Scheme was launched on 12 February 1964 by the Housing and Development Board (HDB). Initially, Singaporeans were only able to rent apartments built by the HDB. The home ownership scheme enabled low income Singapore citizens to buy flats with basic amenities at affordable prices from the government on a 99-year lease basis.


13 February

It is 13 February 1942, the Japanese troops that stormed through Malaya have invaded Singapore. The Japanese reached Pasir Panjang Ridge. The Malay Regiment, led by Lieutenant Adnan bin Saidi, fought bravely in the Battle of Pasir Panjang. However, they were outnumbered by the Japanese soldiers and were eventually defeated. The British nurses at the Alexandra Hospital were ordered to evacuate.

The National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS) (also known as The Book Council) was established on 13 February 1969 to promote the development of the local book industry by supporting publishers and book suppliers as well as nurturing writers and readers.

The Police Coast Guard (PCG) was formed on 13 February 1993, from what was then known as the Marine Police set up in 1924. This change was to signal the development of PCG into a more credible maritime security agency, entrusted with expanded roles. The change included taking over a fleet of Coastal Patrol Craft from the Republic of Singapore Navy to cover its expanded areas of operation.


14 February

In 1938, the British built Alexandra Hospital as a military hospital. Japanese troops attacked the hospital on 14 February 1942 in retaliation against retreating Allied soldiers who had fired at them from the hospital gronds. They killed an estimated 50 staff and patients.

The Battle of Opium Hill on 14 February 1942 at Pasir Panjang was one of the fiercest battles that took place in Singapore in World War II. It pitted the invading Japanese Army against a brave but heavily outnumbered troop of the 1st Malay Brigade of the Malay Regiment. The battle was also remembered for the heroism of Lieutenant Adnan Saidi, the leader of the brigade, who together with his men fought the Japanese to their grisly deaths. Today, an interpretive centre, Reflections at Bukit Chandu, stands on the hill, commemorating the battle and the contributions of these men.

On the evening of 14 February 1942, the rolling hills of the Bukit Brown Cemetery were suddenly engulfed in a barrage of flame and fire. Artillery from the Yamashita’s advancing XXV Army opened up their most intensive bombardment of the Singaporean campaign to date plastering the grave covered hills with high explosives rounds that made the earth tremble and sent the headstones spinning through the air.

Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute (SAFTI) was formed on 14 February 1966.


15 February

Dempsey Road, also known as Dempsey Hill and Tanglin Village, is located across from the Singapore Botanic Gardens, close to the U.S. Embassy. It was originally a nutmeg plantation and later became Tanglin Barracks, the headquarters of the Far East British Forces. On 15 February 1915 during World War I, in the Indian Mutiny, 60 mutineers- troops of the 5th Native Infantry of the Bengal Army based at Alexandra Barracks - made their way to the German Prisoner of War (POW) Camp near the Tanglin Barracks, freeing 300 prisoners and providing them with arms. They broke into the barracks, and killed 13 British, Singapore Volunteer Corps, Johor Military Force soldiers and a German POW.

Singapore’s first medical school was founded in 1905, converted from an old Female Lunatic Asylum at Sepoy Lines. Known then as the Straits and Federated Malay States Government Medical School, it was renamed the King Edward VII Medical School in 1913 and then to King Edward VII College of Medicine in 1924. In 1920, a new College building was commissioned, and the College of Medicine Building was officially opened on 15 February 1926.

Total Defence Day is marked annually on February 15 in Singapore to commemorate the anniversary of the surrender of the British to the Japanese on 15 February 1942, which was the first day of the Lunar New Year, precursoring 3 years and 6 months of Japanese Occupation, Singapore was renamed Syonan-to (Light of the South). The British surrendered to the Japanese after the devastating defeat of Singapore’s last strategic post of Bukit Chandu (Opium Hill). The British "surrender team" (or "surrender party') was made up of four British military officers; led by Lieutenant-General Arthur E. Percival, the rest were Brigadier K. S. Torrance, Brigadier T. K. Newbiggings, and Captain Cyril H. D. Wild. On 15 February 1942, the British delegation was ordered to be at Ford Factory in Bukit Timah, to meet Lieutenant-General Tomoyuki Yamashita, head of the invading Japanese forces. He fiercely demanded the unconditional surrender of Singapore, and Percival signed the Singapore Surrender Document.

(Photo taken at "From The Stacks" Highlights of the National Library)

'Syonan', meaning 'the brilliant south', was the name given to Singapore by Japan during the war, and the Syonan Shimbun was the newspaper and official mouthpiece of the Japanese Government during the occupation of Malaya. Operating out of the Straits Times offices on Cecil Street, the Shimbun was distributed throughout Malaya. Apart from news, the Shimbun was also used as a platform to spread Japanese imperialist messages about the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, a grand concept for a united East Asia and Oceania ruled by the Japanese Empire, free from western influences. Traces of this form of propaganda can be seen on this page taken from 15 February 1943, the one-year anniversary of the Japanese Occupation of Singapore. This issue feature articles celebrating the victory of Japan over British forces, and recounts of the Battle of Singapore, comparing it favourably to the landmark success of the German invasion of Dunkirk in 1940.

Television Singapura was Singapore's first television station and was launched on 15 February 1963 at 6 pm. On the day of the first transmission, the first screen to appear was the flag of Singapore fluttered while the Singapore National Anthem was played. The first person to appear on the screen was S. Rajarathnam. The first evening’s programme schedule was to have lasted an hour and forty minutes, and included a short film on Singapore, a cartoon, the news, a half an hour feature, and a variety show, ending transmission.

The Civilian War Memorial is a monument dedicated to civilians who perished during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942-1945). It is located on a parkland, along Beach Road, opposite Raffles City, in the Downtown Core of Singapore's Central Region. The structure of four pillars soar to more than 68 m symbolising the shared 'war experiences' of the Chinese, Indians, Malays, and other races. It resembles two pairs of chopsticks, so it is affectionately called the "chopsticks" memorial because of its unusual design. Since its completion and unveiling on 15 February 1967, exactly 25 years after the "Fall of Singapore", every year on 15 February, ex-servicemen, families and others gather at the memorial to commemorate that fateful day.

The Singapore Cable Car provides an aerial link from Mount Faber on the main island of Singapore to the resort island of Sentosa across the Keppel Harbour. Opened on 15 February 1974, it was the first aerial ropeway system in the world to span a harbour. The S$5.8 million project began in 1972. The system ply between the Jewel Box Station on Mount Faber, 93 meters above sea level, and Sentosa Station, 47 meters above sea level. In between these two "terminals" is the HarbourFront Station, 69 meters above sea level. In addition, there are two supporting towers which are each 80 meters in height. The total distance between Mount Faber and Sentosa station is 1650 meters.

The Battle Box at Fort Canning is a World War II underground bunker with 26 rooms. It is 9 meters (20 feet deep), and used by British force as a communication centre in the war against the Japanese in Malaya campaign in 1942. In 1945 when the Japanese surrender back to British, the bunker was sealed off. The Battle Box reopened to public on 15 February 1997, exactly 55 years after the fall of Singapore.

Odeon was Cathay Organisation's flagship cinema and its most successful box-office earner in Singapore. Designed by architectural firm Palmer and Turner, it was built in 1953 at the junction of North Bridge Road and Cashin Street, where Odeon Tower and K H Kea Building are now located. Due to its prime location, Odeon became the favourite hangout for students of the schools in the vicinity such as St Joseph, Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, St Nicholas and Catholic High. On 15 February 1980, Odeon set another record by being the first cinema in Singapore to deliver movie in Dolby Sound when it screened Zulu Dawn at midnight. Odeon was sold to United Overseas Land in 1984, and the building was later demolished to make way for new developments.

When the British forces left Singapore, the Johor Battery was forgotten until the Singapore Prisons Service discovered it during a routine cleaning at its Abington Centre in April 1991. The place was then spruced up with a replica of the 15-inch gun and an 800 kg shell, and marked as the 60th historic site. The historical site was officially launched on 15 February 2002 as part of a commemorative programme for the 60th anniversary of the fall of Singapore. This event was witnessed by 200 returning POWs, their immediate friends and family members.


16 February

The Singapore Polo Club was formed in 1899, following earlier unsuccessful attempts to start such a club in Singapore. Some sources cite the formation year of the Singapore Polo Club as 1899 (instead of 1886), in which case the specific date of formation is probably the day the first game of the newly revived club was played, i.e. 16 February 1899. The game was played at the racecourse of the Singapore Sporting Club, which had earlier agreed to allow polo to be played on its race grounds at what is now Farrer Park, much to the chagrin of the golfers who shared the premises.

In Dec 1948, the Malayan Force was raised by the Singapore Government and was later granted the title of Royal Malayan Navy in 1952 in recognition of its services in action during the Malayan emergency. On 16 February 1963, when Singapore became a state of Malaysia, the Malayan Navy was changed to the Royal Malaysian Navy.

Then Minister for National Development S. Dhanabalan officially introduced the Ethnic Integration Policy in parliament on 16 February 1989. The Ethnic Integration Policy was implemented on 1 March 1989 to promote racial integration and harmony in Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates.


17 February

In 1963, when Singapore joined the Malayan Federation the Special Branch became part of the Malaysian Special Branch. However, after separation from Malaysia in 1965, the Special Branch became part of the Ministry of the Interior & Defence until 17 February 1966 when it was formally established as the Internal Security Department (ISD).

Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) was first established in 1967 under the name Outward Bound School. It was Dr Goh Keng Swee, Minister for Defence & Interior and the Defence & Deputy Chairman of the People’s Association, who suggested setting up an Outward Bound School in Singapore to help build a "rugged society". It was a period of uncertainty for Singapore, who just gained independence. An island with limited resources, Singapore needed a “rugged society” that was ready to meet challengers & help ensure its survival. The school was set up by New Zealanders, Hamish Thomas & Al Cameron, who under the "Colombo Plan" were instrumental in developing Outward Bound. The first OBS course was organized on 17 February 1968

In 1968, approval was granted for Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College to be established; and the College began a two-year development of a site at Fort Canning. The College was officially opened by the then Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, on 13 February 1970 with Col Kirpa Ram Vij as the College Director. The first Command and Staff Course commenced on 17 February 1970.

Singapore's only school for Korean nationals, the Singapore Korean School, was established on 17 February 1993.

Marina Bay Sands is an integrated resort fronting Marina Bay in Singapore. Prior to its opening in 2010, it was billed as the world's most expensive standalone casino property at S$8 billion, including the land cost. The grand opening of Marina Bay Sands was held on 17 February 2011.


18 February

Seow Poh Leng was a prominent banker. He was one of the three pioneers of the Ho Hong Bank, which later merged with two other banks to form the Overseas-Chinese Banking Corporation. He enjoyed acting and singing. He once acted in a farce, In A Race For A Dinner. The aim of the performance was to raise funds to repair the roof of the Straits Chinese Recreation Club on Hong Lim. He also acted in another dramatic piece, Cherry Bounce, at Hong Lim Green on 18 February 1902.

In 1918, part of Wayang Street in Chinatown was improved by Eu Tong Sen. The improvements included an extra bridge as well as new railings for the monsoon drain on the New Bridge Road side of Wayang Street, and back lanes for the new theatres that he was about to build along that stretch of Wayang Street. The rebuilt stretch of Wayang Street was renamed Eu Tong Sen Street in 1919 in recognition of his contribution. Eu Tong Sen was very active in Malaya where he owned several tin mines, medicine shops as well as rubber plantations. In the Power of Attorney dated 18 February 1924, Eu Tong Sen appointed three persons as attorneys with power to act on his behalf in banking matters related to his business.

On 18 February 1942, a Sook Ching (a Chinese term which means “purging through cleansing”) directive was issued by the 25th Army, which was under the command of Lieutenant-General Yamashita Tomoyuki. The directive ordered Chinese males between the ages of 18 and 50 to report to designated screening centres, which were located all over the island. The directive was specifically on the search for members of volunteer forces, communists, looters, those possessing weapons, and those whose names appeared in lists of anti-Japanese suspects maintained and distributed by the Japanese. In general, anyone perceived as obstructing Japanese operations or threatening law and order were singled out as being anti-Japanese.