Week 33: 12 Aug to 18 Aug

12 August

When the Japanese occupied Singapore in 1942, they introduced the military yen. The new currency was commonly referred to as “banana money”. The First Series of banana note issued by Yokohama Specie Bank around early 1942 was with serial numbers. Subsequently, around September 1942 the Second Series were issued and they do not have any serial numbers at all. The prewar British currency was still legal tender but was quickly replaced by the new Japanese currency in the open market. The military notes were intended for circulation on par with the Straits and Malayan dollar notes, but their value decreased dramatically over time. By 12 August 1945, the exchange rate had dropped to 950 Japanese military dollars for 1 Straits dollar. The Japanese currency was rendered worthless when it was demonetised by the British after they regained control of Malaya in September 1945.

In 1959, determined to steer Singapore towards a broader-based economy, the government applied for a United Nations (UN) steel mission to visit the country to study particular lines of industrial growth for Singapore. The UN team arrived in Singapore in February 1961. The team thoroughly studied a proposal to establish a S$600-million iron and steel mill, and also worked out the basic programme for the development of the country’s steel industry. In December 1961, the government announced the formation of a S$50-million steel company, the National Iron & Steel Mills Ltd, following a recommendation by the UN mission. Incorporated on 12 August 1961, the company's capital was funded primarily by local businessmen who took an 80 percent stake, while the remaining 20 percent was provided by the Economic Development Board (EDB).

In 12 August 2004, Lee Hsien Loong became Singapore's third prime minister at the age of 52, taking over Goh Chok Tong who was prime minister for 14 years.


13 August

The Barisan Sosialis (Barisan) is a defunct Singapore political party that was officially registered on 13 August 1961.

Seven officers from the Internal Security department (ISD) raided the offices of Business Times (BT) on 13 August 1992 after the latter had published vital economic figures deemed to be sensitive. After questioning and further investigations, the ISD brought the matter to court. BT was fined for having breached the Official Secrets Act.

Joseph Schooling, 21-year-old, won Singapore's first-ever Olympic gold medal for the 100m butterfly event at Rio 2016 on 13 August 2016. He touched the wall in 50.39s, smashing the Olympic Games record of 50.58s set by Phelps at Beijing 2008. Silver finish of 51.14s was shared by USA Michael Phelps, South Africa's Chad le Clos and Hungarian Laszlo Cseh.


14 August

The Singapore Traction Company’s trolley bus service commenced on 14 August 1926, plying a route between Joo Chiat Road and Tanjong Pagar. By 1929, the company had 90 trolley buses serving 19 routes, as well as motor buses.

The Scotts Holdings, a well-known Singapore corporation with business interests in serviced apartments, shopping centres and property investments, opened Asia Pacific's first international-class serviced residence, The Ascott Singapore on 14 August 1984.

Youth Olympic Games Opening Ceremony was held on 14 August 2010 at The Float@Marina Bay. Described as "The Best Show on Earth in 2010" by the organizers, local talents and over 5000 young performers will transform the floating stage into a dazzling show of music and colour.


15 August

The outbreak of war led to rising patriotism among the overseas Chinese in Nanyang (Southeast Asia). In Singapore, community leaders like Tan Kah Kee helped set up the Singapore China Relief Fund Committee (SCRFC) on 15 August 1937 to collect donations for the Chinese war of resistance. The leadership of the SCRFC cut across “bang”, or dialect group lines and also gained wide public support; rich and poor made donations ranging from thousands of dollars to mere cents, while students sold paper flowers and drama and music troupes put up performances to raise funds.

Singapore's main television studio at Caldecott Hill was burnt down in a fire on 15 August 1965, disrupting TV programming and destroying an estimated $250,000 worth of equipment. It was the studio used several times by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan for his televised press conferences after Singapore's separation from Malaysia on August 9. He was due to have another press conference in the studio a day after the fire.

One of the most prominent Swimming Complexes that is clearly visible from the Ayer Rajah Expressway is the Clementi Swimming Complex. It was officially unveiled to the public on 15 August 1983. It takes just a few minutes to get to from Clementi MRT and the bus interchange. Facilities include a Competition Pool, a Teaching Pool and a Wading Pool.

SAM at 8Q is the annexe of Singapore Art Museum - Singapore's contemporary art museum. It derives its name from the museum's location at No. 8 Queen Street near Bras Basah Road. SAM at 8Q is also approximately 88 steps away from Singapore Art Museum. SAM at 8Q was officially opened on 15 August 2008.


16 August

The first locally produced postwar Malay film, Seruan Merdeka (Cry of Freedom), is also believed to be the first political feature film. A promotional in The Singapore Free Press considers it Singapore’s “re-occupation first Malay film”, while The Straits Times advertises it as “the first story of the Malayan underground movement”. The film premiered at the Queens Theatre on the midnight of 16 August 1947. As Shaw Brothers and Cathay had monopoly over many cinemas in Malaya at the time, they set limitations on the screening of films made by other production houses. Seruan Merdeka, therefore, presumably did not get as wide a coverage as it should have; as a result, it was viewed as a failure.

In 1953, Lee Kong Chian, a rubber tycoon donated a sum of $375,000 to establish a new public library. He made the donation with conditions that the library should house books on Asian Languages and cultures of Singapore. The new library was to be located at Stamford Road to the south of the Raffles Museum. Lee later laid the foundation stone of the new building on 16 August 1957. Raffles Library was renamed the Raffles National Library and then the National Library.

The racial riots on 21 July 1964 went down in Singapore's history as a cautionary tale of the fragility of race relations in Singapore. A holy day that was meant to celebrate Prophet Mohamad's birthday ended on a grim note for Singaporeans when the riots left 461 injured and 22 dead. It looked like the social fabric in Singapore was going to be torn apart without hope of being mended. The outbreak of the riots revealed that planning, clever use of the media and a well-colluded provocation caused the darkest suspicions and distrust among Singaporeans. On 16 August 1964, Racial Harmony Week was inaugurated to respond to the mayhem and put on notice that every race and religion mattered to the government and social inequities were to be addressed.

Seletar Institute (SI) was one of the four original centralised institutes (CI) in Singapore and one of the pre-university centres in Singapore that offers a three-year curriculum leading to the Singapore Cambridge (UCLES) General Certficate of Education Advanced Level examination. SI was established in 1988 and began operations in January 1989 at the then-vacant Upper Thomson Secondary School ex-campus at 14.5 km Upper Thomson Road, opposite Springleaf estate. On 16 August 1995, Ministry of Education announced tht SI will not be expectding any intake of prospective 'A' level students in the coming year of 1996. The institute was closed down and the campus abandoned, since 1998.


17 August

Completed in 1841, the Insane Hospital was situated at the corner of Bras Basah Road and Bencoolen Street. On 17 August 1853, the Grand Jury suggested that the old Hospital building be torn down because it was inappropriate for convicts to be put in the Hospital by the Superintendent of Convicts as punishment. Dr Oxley was infuriated as this was untrue. Admissions were approved of only by himself and the Superintendent of Police. Further worsening the overcrowding, lunatics from Malacca were transferred to the Hospital. Dr Oxley's subsequent request for more staff was also turned down.

Merdeka Bridge was the first to be built after the Japanese Occupation, signifying Singapore’s growing affluence and hope for a prosperous future. Taking two years to complete, this 2,000-foot structure was the longest pre-stressed bridge in Southeast Asia. It officially opened on 17 August 1956, together with Nicoll Highway, by the then Chief Minister, Lim Yew Hock.

On 17 August 1966, the governments of Singapore and Malaysia announced that the Currency Board (Board of Commissioners of Currency, Malaya and British Borneo, 1960) would cease to have currency issuing power on 12 June 1967. This was because both countries could not agree on a satisfactory arrangement that was acceptable to both parties over the adoption of a common currency. After that date, Singapore and Malaysia would issue separate currencies.

Ang Mo Kio Public Library was officially opened on 17 August 1985 by Mr Yeo Toon Chia, Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio Constituency. A prominent landmark in the centre of Ang Mo Kio, the library was closed in April 2002 for upgrading and officially re-opened on 25 January 2003 by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of State for National Development.

Official opening of Hindhede Nature Park on 17 August 2001.


18 August

The Singapore Watercolour Society (SWS) was formed on 18 August 1969.

On 18 August 2001, after 24 years at Phoenix Park, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) moved to New Phoenix Park at 28 Irrawaddy Road. MHA brought the word "Phoenix" over to its new home from Tanglin. The Phoenix was the emblem chosen by Lord Louis Mountbatten on his appointment as the Supreme Allied Commander of the South East Asia Command during the Second World War. New Phoenix Park still houses the headquarters of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Police and the Internal Security Department (ISD) today.

On 18 August 2005, in a first for Singapore, police arrested three people, including a 16-year old student, for having at least 20,000 MP3 music files “intended for distribution” over a chat channel on the Internet. This follows Singapore’s toughened copyright laws against online piracy that came into effect in 2005.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong unveiled SG50 commemorative notes on 18 August 2015.