Week 8: 19 Feb to 25 Feb

19 February

Prior to the construction of the racecourse, gharry pony races were known to be held at the Esplanade as early as 1834 during the first New Year Land Sports. The racecourse was built at the junction of Bukit Timah Road and Serangoon Road, where Farrer Park is today. It covered 50 acres (20 hectares), reaching as far as Buffalo Road. The first race at the racecourse was slated for 19 February 1843 to mark the 24th year of Singapore’s founding, but was rescheduled to 23 and 25 February.

SAFRA Toa Payoh was SAFRA’s first permanent club opened on 19 February 1975 by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. It underwent a series of transformations in the last three decades. In 1984, SAFRA Toa Payoh underwent its first renovation at a cost of $600,000 to refresh its outlook, expand facilities such as its canteen, practice rooms and walkways, as well as computerise certain administrative procedures such as the booking of facilities. The club underwent a second extensive renovation in 1990 which saw the addition of the main building, swimming pool and upgrades to the multi-purpose hall at a cost of another $4 million. Subsequently, in 1996, the current Annex housing a mega gym.

Nanyang Technological University's Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) devoted to studying earth's most serious environmental threats was officially opened on 19 February 2009, by Dr Francis Yeoh, CEO of the National Research Foundation (NRF). The EOS aims to understand and address civilisation's most serious natural hazards – including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and climate change – with a focus on Southeast Asia, that could potentially save hundreds of thousands of lives. Among the projects that the Observatory will embark on include those that will aid in the forecasting of natural calamities and its novel outreach and education programmes targeting secondary and junior college students.


20 February

On 20 February 1942, 66 Chinese males were lined up along the edge of the sea, Changi Beach/Changi Spit Beach, and shot by the military police. The beach was the first of the killing sites of the Sook Ching. Victims were from the Bukit Timah/Stevens Road area. The Sook Ching (肃清, meaning "purge through cleansing") was a systematic extermination of perceived hostile elements among the Chinese in Singapore by the Japanese military during the Japanese occupation of Singapore and Malaya.

With the advent of British’s representative, Mac Michael to Malaya in enforcing their Majesties, the Sultans to surrender Malaya and her possessions to the British Crown with the proposed Malayan Union. As a consequence, the Malays protested against of forty (40) Malay Organizations throughout Malaya assembled at the Sultan Sulaiman Club in Kuala Lumpur to congregate a Malay Congress and to initiate the course for uniting the Malays and their objectives. Singapore was represented by Kesatuan Melayu Singapura [KMS]. Thereafter, they congregated at Johor Bahru and it was there, UMNO (United Malays National Organization) was established. UMNO Singapore was registered on 20 February 1961. Prior to its registration it spread over and became the Singapore division of UMNO in the year 1954. On 9 August 1965, Singapore was separated from Malaysia. After separation, UMNO Singapore had to adjust to the changed political circumstances of an Independent, multi-racial Singapore and had to sever its connections with UMNO Malaysia. On 5 May 1967, UMNO Singapore assumed a new name – Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Singapura [PKMS] or Singapore Malays National Organization.

Thomson Road Hospital was formally opened as a hospital for the chronic sick on 20 May 1959. The new extension consisting of a block for the surgical theatres, X-ray department, outpatient and casualty units were opened on 20 February 1965. The hospital faced a shortage of beds and was then finally relocated to Simei as it was merged with Changi Hospital to form Changi General Hospital and was defunct on 15 February 1997.

Singapore International Film Festival is inaugurated on 20 February 1987.


21 February

Singapore applied for membership to join the IMF and the World Bank on 8 September 1965. After the two institutions came to an agreement over the terms of the membership application on 21 February 1966, Singapore was given six months to accept the membership offer.

After Singapore separated from Malaysia in 1965, the first call-up of 9,000 youths for the independent nation was initiated on 21 February 1967 – by none other than her own Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew at the Toa Payoh Community Centre in which he revealed that the Government would introduce National Service on a large scale. The cream of Singapore’s youths would have to serve two years in the Armed Forces on leaving school.

On 21 Februray 2008, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awards the Youth Olympic Games hosting rights to Singapore ahead of Moscow by a vote of 53 to 44.


22 February

A nine-man constitutional commission, headed by George Rendel, was appointed on 21 July 1953 to review the constitutional status of Singapore. The commission’s report was presented to Governor Sir John Fearns Nicoll on 22 Februray 1954 and made official that very day. The report paved the way for internal self-government by proposing constitutional reforms that increased local participation in politics. Key recommendations of the report included the formation of a single-chamber Legislative Assembly with two-thirds of its members being popularly elected as well as the automatic registration of voters. The Rendel Constitution came into effect on 8 February 1955.

The Next Lap is a broad agenda for Singapore's long- term development, which includes ideas and proposals to make Singapore a nation of distinction. To mark this new phase in the country's political history and national development, a 160-page book, Singapore: The Next Lap, was launched on 22 February 1991. It was also released as the Principal Addendum to the Presidential Address.

Seletar Expressway (SLE) connects Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) in Woodlands to the junction of Tampines Expressway (TPE) and Central Expressway (CTE) in Yio Chu Kang. The final phase of construction involved the linking of the SLE built in the first and second phases at Upper Thomson Road. This stretch of the SLE, built at a cost of S$68 million, was officially opened on 22 February 1998 when the guest of honour John Chen, Minister of State (Communications), flagged off 30 eager motorists at Upper Thomson Road. The construction of the last link also signified the completion of a network joining all the existing expressways in Singapore. Construction of the twelve km expressway was fully completed in 1998, at a total cost of S$150 million.


23 February

On 23 February 1886, in conjunction with the shift to the new school building, and with the consent of the Archbishop Primate, Canon Pinto changed the name of the school to St. Anthony’s Boys’ and Girls’ School.

Tomoyuki Yamashita was the Army Commander of the 25th Army which captured Malaya and Singapore during World War II. For this success, he was nicknamed "Tiger of Malaya". He was hanged at Los Banos camp on 23 February 1945 after being convicted of war crimes.

Kent Ridge Park, formerly known as Pasir Panjang Ridge, was originally a lowland evergreen rainforest. During World War II, it was used as a fortress by the British in the defence of Singapore. After the war, the area was renamed Kent Ridge Park and was officially opened on 23 February 1954 by the Governor of Singapore, Sir John Fearns Nicoll. The name was chosen to commemorate the visit to the park by the Duchess of Kent and her son, the Duke of Kent, on 3 October 1952. A plaque (picture) commemorating the occasion was erected at the junction of Kent Ridge Road and South Buona Vista Road in 1952.

On 23 February 1970, the Finance Minister, Dr Goh Keng Swee laid the foundation stone and a time capsule buried in Singapore's main sports stadium. The capsule contains coins, newspapers and sports memorabilia could not be located and has sparked a frantic search for it.


24 February

Established as an autonomous body on 27 October 1954, the polytechnic was set up to train manpower needed for Singapore’s industries. From 1957 to 1958, classes in navigation, town planning, surveying and commerce were temporarily held at various school premises. After two years of construction, the polytechnic (Singapore Polytechnic) was officially opened on 24 February 1959 by Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh. The building’s distinguishing feature was its rectangular foyer façade with a striking mosaic pattern, located at the junction of Prince Edward Road and Shenton Way. In the 80s, this building is known as the National Institute of Commerce (NIC), the commerce vocational training institute of the Vocational Institute Training Board (VITB).

The Singaporean by-election of 1967 was triggered by the final batch of mass resignations from Barisan Sosialis (BS)'s elected Members of Parliament who heeded to Lim Huan Boon's call on the grounds that Singapore's independence was "phony" because no discussion of Singapore's separation matter was made in the legislature. The final walkout of BS members were Koo Young, Ms Loh Miaw Gong, Ong Lian Teng, Poh Ber Liak and Tan Cheng Tong and translates into five vacant constituencies namely, Bukit Panjang, Havelock, Jalan Kayu, Tampines and Thomson. As a result, the by election was held on 7 March 1967 with the nomination day set on 24 February 1967. Despite 5 vacant constituency are up for grabs, only Thomson was contested by 2 independent candidates on top of another candidate from the People's Action Party (PAP) and the PAP wins the other four constituencies by walkover.

In the 1990s, American International Assurance’s (AIA's) headquarters resided in a temporary location at Gateway East as the new AIA Tower was being built. At the ground-breaking ceremony of the AIA Tower on 19 November 1991, a time capsule containing items such as a 1962 rate book and other AIA mementoes, was buried. Two years later, the 25-storey state-of-the-art AIA Tower was officially opened by AIG Chairman and CEO, Maurice Greenberg. The agency also established permanent offices in the 1990s with the opening of AIA Tanjong Pagar on 24 February 1992, and AIA Changi and Alexandra on 19 July 1994.

A plaque of Joseph Conrad-Korzeniowski (located beside Maybank Tower, opposite The Fullerton Hotel) was officially unveiled by H.E. Aleksander Kwasniewski, President of the Republic of Poland, on 24 February 2004.


25 February

The 1603 naval battle off Changi was one of three naval confrontations between the Dutch and Portuguese that took place in the Johor River and Singapore Straits between 6 and 11 October 1603. The battle has its origins in the Santa Catarina incident that took place off the coast of Singapore on 25 February 1603. To punish the Johoreans for supporting the Dutch in the seizure of the richly-laden Santa Catarina merchant vessel, the governor of Malacca, André Furtado de Mendonça, sent a galleon and several smaller craft to the Johor River to harass the riverine towns and impose a blockade to cut off the upstream settlements. It was reported that the Portuguese had taken and occupied Johor Lama (the former capital of Johor) at the time.

Aleem Siddique Mosque was built as a recognition of Maulana Shah Muhammad Abdul Aleem Siddique’s (photo) immortal work of spreading the faith of Islam and the message of peace in Singapore and elsewhere around the world. Maulana Abdul Aleem Siddique, along with other Islamic activists, went on a mission to find a plot of land for the purpose of building a Mosque. They spotted an old surau (small place of prayers) at No. 90 Lorong K Telok Kurau (where the Mosque is right now). Maulana then urged the activists to raise the necessary funds to purchase the land and convert it to a Mosque. The land was conveyed on 25 February 1953 to Syed Ibrahim bin Oman Alsagoff, Ahmad bin Mohamed Ibrahim and Haji Adam Naina Mohamed Ibrahim as trustees of the All-Malaya Muslim Missionary Society (now known as JAMIYAH). The activists from the Society relentlessly raised funds and the Mosque, Masjid Abdul Aleem Siddique, was subsequently built on that plot of land.

The full details of the new scheme were spelt out a few days later in an announcement on 25 February 1967. All 18 year old male Singapore citizens and permanent residents as well as civil servants and students would be called up for National Service. 10% would be called up for full-time training and after their full-time service they would return to civilian life but would be placed in the Reserve Service. The remainder would be called up for part-time service with the People's Defence Force, the Special Constabulary and the Vigilantes. The National Service (Amendment) Bill was tabled on 27 February 1967. The Parliament passed the Bill on 14 March 1967.