Week 18: 29 Apr to 05 May

29 April

On 29 April 1942, the Raffles Library and Museum was re-opened to the public as the Syonan Hakubutsu Kan. The library was known as Syonan Tosyokan. The Directorship of the library and museum was taken over by Professor Hidezo Tanakadate, a vulcanologist and geologist of Tohoku Imperial University in Sendai. In September 1942, Marquis Yoshichika Tokugawa, related by marriage to the emperor of Japan, was appointed as the President of the Syonan Hakubutsu Kan. He would later take over the position of Director of the library and museum when the Professor was ordered to return to Japan on suspicion of being a pro-European supporter in June 1943.

Serangoon Gardens Country Club is one of the oldest and well-respected clubs in Singapore. Established on 29 April 1955 by Mr. S. C. Macey and some residents of Serangoon Gardens, it was then known as the Serangoon Gardens Sports Club. Membership was just $2 but was exclusive to residents of Serangoon Gardens Estate. Majority were British servicemen who enjoyed gathering at the Club for soccer and hockey matches or a game of billiards, darts, bridge or tombola. Occasionally, the kids had a splashing time when the soccer field doubled-up as a pool and fishing pond after heavy rain.

They may be far from home but the British community in Singapore joined their countrymen in celebrating Britain's biggest royal wedding in 30 years. Music flowed from bagpipes and the drums rolled as the doors to the British Club in Bukit Timah opened to about 130 guests. Club members watched the live telecast of the royal wedding that took place at the Westminster Abbey on 29 April 2011. Guests who attended a lavish gala dinner that followed were of the consensus that the marriage of Prince William of Wales to Catherine Middleton, a commoner, was one of the most unforgettable in British history. The British Club was opened on 15 November 1987 by HRH Princess Anne.


30 April

The Hock Lee Bus Strike led to rioting on 10 to 12 May 1955, in which 3 people were killed and 31 injured. During the strike, large numbers of dismissed bus workers locked themselves in the Hock Lee Garages in Alexandra Road and picketed at the gates. On, 30 April 1955, the eve of May Day, sympathy strikes spread to other unions affiliated to the Middle Road Group. Dock workers stopped the transportation of freight and passengers, threatening the economic life-line of Singapore. The island-wide industrial action grew increasingly violent with the support of students from the Chinese High schools.

At the inauguration of the Singapore Orthopaedic Association, the membership of the Association stood at less than ten. The first scientific meeting of the Association was a combined meeting of the Singapore Orthopaedic Association and Singapore Surgical Society and was held on 30 April 1968.

On the 30 April 1979, at a meeting called by Mrs S.C. Tang, Executive Director of the Singapore Council of Social Service, the floor nominated a pro tem committee, comprising Mrs Julie Tan (Chairperson) Mrs Caroline Lam (Chairperson), Mrs. Anamah Tan, Mrs Seow Peck Leng, Mrs Maureen Tan, Mrs Mary Ho and Mrs Tan Bee Choo's Representative. The Constitution was drawn up by the committee which was then sent to twenty four women's organisations and the Registrar of Societies in October 1979. The name that was finally approved by the Registrar was "Singapore Council of Women's Organisations".

Business at Change Alley, which sat on prime land, saw a dwindling number of customers in the 1980s. This was attributed to a number of reasons such as the decline in sea travel, competition with modern air-conditioned shopping centres, and the withdrawal of foreign troops from Singapore. On 30 April 1989, the shops in Change Alley opened for the last time after a period of bargain sales to clear stocks. Affected stallholders were offered the option of renting sundry and cooked-food stalls at markets and food centres.

The design by Singapore firm ARC Studio Architecture + Urbanism was selected as the winner on 30 April 2002 from more than 200 entries. The design of The Pinnacle@Duxton (picture modern building) won over the local and international panel of judges with its optimal use of the 2.5-hectare (25,000 sq m) location.


1 May

Lt. Colonel (later Major-General) William Farquhar, First British Resident and Commandant of Singapore from 1819-1823. He was an emissary of Sir Stamford Raffles and part of the negotiating team for the Singapore Treaty which saw the setting up of a British settlement and trading post here. As chief executive of the island, his administration procedures conflicted with Raffles's instructions, and this led to his dismissal on 1 May 1823.

For 120 years, this was the home of St Joseph's Institution, a missionary school. Founded by the French priest Father Jean-Marie Beurel and a small group of LaSalle Brothers on 1 May 1852. Construction of the first building begain in 1855 and took 12 years to complete. In 1987, the school moved to larger grounds in Malcolm Road. However, the statue of St John Baptist de La Salle by Cesare Aureli was left behind as a reminder of SJI's rich heritage. The restoration of the building to an art museum commenced in 1992. The Singapore Art Museum was officially opened on 20 January 1996.

Pickle-Ball in Singapore started in 1988, supported by Singapore Sports Council and People’s Association. It is an official sport for life launched by Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in 1996. The Singapore Pickle Ball Association was chartered 1 May 1995. Pickle ball is played in schools, colleges, universities and other tertiary institutions as well as corporate clubs.


2 May

On 2 May 1955, Mr Tan Ah Tah became the first local-born person to be appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court. Mr Frederick Arthur Chua (appointed on 15 February 1957) and Mr Wee Chong Jin (appointed on 15 August 1957) were appointed thereafter. Mr Wee Chong Jin was also the first local-born member of the Singapore Bar to be appointed to the Supreme Court Bench. Mr Tan Ah Tah and Mr Frederick Arthur Chua were both from the Colonial Legal Service.

Ten years later, on 2 May 1955, Behn Meyer was re-established in Singapore under its own name, with Mr Van Daggenhausen as the Managing Director. Branches were opened in Penang and Kuala Lumpur; by 1958 Behn Meyer had regained its former status as the leading German trading house in this region.

On 20 April 1996, Mr Wong Kan Seng, Minister for Home Affairs and Deputy Chairman of the People’s Association, officiated the Ground Breaking Ceremony for the new clubhouse. The Grassroots Recreation Club was renamed The Grassroots’ Club (TGC) in 1997. TGC New Clubhouse was completed in March 1998 and started operation on 2 May 1998.


3 May

William A. Pickering was appointed as the first Protector of Chinese in Singapore on 3 May 1877. Pickering, who was conversant in several Chinese dialects and had mastered the Chinese written language, previously served as Chinese interpreter to the Straits Settlements government, a post he had held since 1871. The office of the Chinese Protectorate in Singapore opened in a shophouse along North Canal Road on 1 June 1877.

Steam trams started operating in Singapore on 3 May 1886 by the Singapore Tramways Company.

Prima Limited was incorporated on 3 May 1961 and on 18 August 1963, the Prima flourmill (the first flourmill in Singapore, and one of the pioneer flour millers in Southeast Asia) was officially opened by Dr Goh Keng Swee, the then Minister of Finance of Singapore.

The first vertical marathon in Singapore was held on 3 May 1987. Racing up 1,336 steps to reach the top of the world's tallest hotel at the time, the 73-storey, 226-metre-tall Westin Stamford (now known as Swissotel The Stamford).

The Night Safari was finally opened to the public on the evening of 3 May 1994. It was officially opened by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong three weeks later on 26 May.


4 May

The by-election for the Radin Mas constituency was held to fill the parliamentary seat left vacant by the death of People’s Action Party (PAP) member of parliament (MP), N. Govindasamy. Govindasamy had won the seat by defeating Othman Abdullah of the Workers’ Party (WP) in the general election held the year before. Nomination day for the by-election was set for 4 May 1977 with polling to follow on 14 May. Two candidates, PAP’s Bernard Chen Tien Lap and WP’s secretary-general J. B. Jeyaretnam, vied for the seat. This was the latter’s third attempt to gain a seat in parliament. The PAP won by a large majority with Chen polling 12,053 votes against Jeyaretnam’s 5,021.

The Singapore Kennel Club held its 1st Open Dog Show on 4 May 1986. It’s jointly organized with Aljunied Community Centre and sponsored by Purina.

Townerville Conservation Area is located at McNair Road and Towner Road, the area was given conservation status on 4 May 1990. It contains mainly two-storey terrace houses of the Art Deco Style. These former government quarters were built in the early 1920s.


5 May

Just as the European merchant community used Chinese middlemen in conducting their business, the Straits government relied on prominent Chinese businessmen to act as go-betweens with the Chinese community. Seah Eu Chin was the go-between with the Teochew community, which originated from the Chao-zhou province of Southern China. He rendered service in helping to quell several disturbances in the community, most notably the 1854 Hokkien-Teochew Riots which broke out on 5 May 1854. The incident ostensibly began because of a dispute over the price of rice, between a Hokkien and a Teochew, but that dispute probably was only a trigger for the release of long-held resentment and animosity between the Hokkien (from Fujian province in China) and Teochew (from Chaozhou province) communities. In all over 400 people were killed over 10 days of violence. The British authorities on Singapore island met with Chinese leaders, including Seah Eu Chin representing Teochews and Tan Kim Ching representing the Hokkiens, and with their assistance helped to bring the situation to a close.

The founding of our Alma Mater, the Nanyang University, affectionately called Nantah, is the crystallisation of the aspiration of the Chinese community to pursue excellence. During the colonial days, Nantah has taken a long and uneven route before it was incorporated as a company known as Nanyang University Limited on 5 May 1953. Credit, must therefore, be given to the founder, the late Mr. Tan Lark Sye for his sheer grit and etermination to build Nantah under the adverse circumstances of the time.

What the Singapore Naval Volunteer Force (SNVF) SNVF lacked in resources was made up for in determination and hard work. Though a small force to begin with, the SNVF underwent a period of rapid growth and development. It had started off with former members of the Royal Malaysian Navy being mobilised to form the nucleus of the fledgling force. The following year saw the SNVF boost its numbers to 89 mobilised personnel and 278 volunteer officers and men. Some were women from the Singapore Women's Auxiliary Naval Service (or SWANS), which had been formed in 1957. On 5 May 1967, the Singapore Naval White Ensign was hoisted with pride, signalling that Singapore finally had a navy to call its own.