Week 47: 18 Nov to 24 Nov

18 November

Tan Kim Seng founded Kim Seng and company, a trading house on Boat Quay. Tan Kim Seng was a leader among the Chinese. On 18 November 1857, Tan Kim Seng offered a sum of $13,000 for a supply of water to the Town from Bukit Timah. This water was to be carried through pipes on the main roads in Singapore. The Secretary of State for India praised the public spiritedness of Tan Kim Seng. In recognition of his farsightedness, the Municipal Council built a large fountain in Fullerton Square in 1882 to commemorate his generosity. Around the fountain there was an inscription: "This fountain is erected by the Municipal Commissioners in commemoration of Mr Tan Kim Seng's donation towards the cost of the Singapore Water Works".

Former Tao Nan School (now The Peranakan Museum, picture above), was the first modern Hokkien school to be founded in the Straits Settlements, and one of six modern Chinese schools set up in Singapore under the influence of educational reforms in China at the end of the 19th century. The school was officially established on 18 November 1906 under the auspices of the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan, although classes did not commence until 1907, and even then were held in rooms in Siam House – the residence of Tan Kim Ching on North Bridge Road. It was the one of the first six modern Chinese schools to be set up in Singapore. The school moved to the Marine Parade neighbourhood in 1982.

Kolam Ayer Community Club was declared open by Mr. S.V. Lingam on 9 February 1964. The CC was a meeting ground for the various ethnic, language and religious groups.(Photo: Courtesy of Nat. Heritage Board) Kolam Ayer CC was temporarily housed at an HDB rented shop-house at Blk 45, #01-1477 Bendemeer Road. It was officially opened on 18 November 1976. The very limited facilities was immediately felt by the newly formed Kolam Ayer CC Management Committee (found 22 November 1978) and they took the first step toward planning of a new CC.


19 November

Al-Abrar Mosque is located at 192 Telok Ayer Street, in the historic Chinatown area. Established in 1827, it was a mosque for the Chulias, Tamil Muslims from south India, so it was also known as Masjid Chulia or Chulia Mosque. The present building was built between 1850 and 1855. The mosque was declared a national monument on 19 November 1974.

Fuk Tak Chi Temple is one of the oldest Chinese temples in Singapore. Devoted to the deity Tua Pek Kong, it was built in the 1820s by the Hakka and Cantonese communities. It was converted into a museum on 19 November 1998.

Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) has given radio listeners here many benefits. From crystal-clear sound quality to the ability to retrieve current information – these are some of the features radio listeners have been enjoying. DAB has been identified as a key technology that will propel the Singapore radio industry into the digital age. Singapore has adopted the Eureka-147 Digital Audio Broadcasting System, the standard recommended by International Telecommunication Union for worldwide adoption. Singapore launched the first commercial digital radio service, Digital Radio, on 19 November 1999, making this country the first to provide commercial digital radio services in South East Asia. Currently, Digital Radio is operated by MediaCorp Radio and carries 14 radio stations (six DAB-only stations and eight FM stations on simulcast). Eleven subscription DAB radio stations are provided on Rediffusion. In addition to audio services, MediaCorp Radio is also transmitting lifestyle, traffic and stock market information in textual form. MediaCorp discontinued its DAB service with effect from 1 December 2011.

On 19 November 2000, surgeons at the National Heart Centre performed Singapore's first lung transplant operation on Thanvanthri N. Veerappan, 54, a shipping consultant. The team of lung transplant surgeons included two directors of Singapore's heart-lung programme, doctors S. Sivathasan and Tong Ming Chuan, and lung expert, T. Agasthian (Dr). In an operation that lasted about nine hours, the team successfully transplanted a pair of healthy lungs from the late Yap Chee Kian, 39, to Thanvanthri.


20 November

The First Series of circulation coins was issued on 20 November 1967.

The first-ever visit to Singapore by a Catholic Pope was by John Paul II and took place on 20 November 1986. During his brief stop in Singapore, the Pope met the Singapore President and Prime Minister, and conducted mass at the National Stadium. The five-hour visit at the invitation of President Wee Kim Wee was part of the 66-year-old pontiff’s Asia-Pacific tour, which included visits to Bangladesh, Singapore, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and the Seychelles.

The URA Centre was officially opened by Mr Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development on 20 November 1999.

Hopea sangal felled on 20 November 2002. The rare Hopea sangal was no more, also known as Chengal pasir, and possibly the Changi tree that gave the area its name. When the rare Chengal pasir (Hopea sangal) tree was felled on 20 November 2002, a volunteer group began working to ensure that the tree was not cut down in vain. By September 2003, the recovered logs were transformed into sculptures and an education programme conducted during the Sculpture Symposium. A subsequent appeal for sponsors saw the Wildlife Reserves of Singapore (WRS) step forward to transfer, exhibit, maintain the Hopea sangal sculpture.


21 November

Finally on 21 November 1960, it was announced that under the Raffles National Library (change of Name) Ordinance 1960, and the Raffles National Museum (change of Name) Ordinance 1960, which were introduced at the last sitting of the Legislative Assembly; the two institutions would be known as the National Library and the National Museum (The Straits Times, 21 Nov 1960, p. 9).

As early as 1826, Jamae Mosque already existed, a testimony to the large number of Tamil Muslims in Chinatown. The present brick and plaster building was completed between 1830 and 1835. It is not a coincidence that the street on which it is located is named Mosque Street and this mosque is always referred to as “Periya Palli” meaning “Big Mosque” Jamae Mosque was built by Chulia Muslim merchants from India's Coromandal Coast, under the leadership of Anser Sahib. Thus, it is sometimes referred to as 'Masjid Chulia'. A number of these Chulia Indians (Indians from the Chola Kingdom of South India), mostly traders and moneychangers, settled in Kling Street, which was eventually named Chulia Street. Perhaps this explains why the mosque is also known as ' Kling Mosque'. “Kling” is the nickname for Indians from the Kalinga Kingdom in India. They came and set up the three Islamic heritage buildings in the heart of Chinatown within a short period: Jamae Chulia Mosque was the first. The other two are Al-Abrar Mosque and Nagore Durga that are located at Telok Ayer Street. On 21 November 1881, the Governor of the Straits Settlement granted the mosque a 999-year land lease. In 1894, it came under the management of the same panel of court appointed trustees that managed all other mosques in Singapore.

Sze Hai Tong Bank and Insurance Company Limited, one of Singapore's earliest local banks, was established on 21 November 1906 by a group of Teochew businessmen including Ng Song Teng (Chairman), Tan Teck Joon (General Manager), Na Kim Seng, Yeo Lee Chiang and Liaw Chia Heng. It was the oldest local bank operating in Singapore until it merged with Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) in 1998.

Robinson's Department Store at Raffles Place was destroyed by fire on 21 November 1972, with a loss estimated at over S$14 million. Nine people (eight of them employees of the company) died in the blaze which started at 9:55 am from a short circuit on the first floor of the four-storey building.

The Bukit Batok Public Library was officially opened on 21 November 1998 by BG (NS) Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister. The library covers an area of 1,279 square metres and is situated within the popular West Mall Shopping Centre.

Joo Koon Bus Interchange began operations on 21 November 2015.


22 November

Lido Cineplex - The site of Shaw House and Lido Theatre was originally part of Grant No. 23 from the East India Company to William Scott on 2 April 1845. When Shaw House was acquired by Shaw and Shaw Pte Ltd in January 1952, it was nothing but vacant land with an Esso petrol station. This half million square feet of land was levelled by the Shaws for redevelopment in December 1956. Piling started in February 1957 and the whole complex, comprising some 118,000 square feet on ten storeys obtained its Certificate of Fitness on 28th January 1958. The original Shaw House was declared officially opened by Mr Lim Yew Hock on 22 November 1958. The old Lido has since been renovated into the current 22-storey Shaw House (Lido Theatre) that opened in 1993 after three years of reconstruction. (Photo: Vintage exterior view of the original Lido, before it was incorporated into the Lido 8 Cineplex - Photo courtesy of the public domain).

On 1 November 1969, the Singapore Buddhist Free Clinic started free medical services for the public. Except for a token registration fee of $0.50, consultation and medicine were free of charge. On 22 November 1969, Mr. Chan Chee Seng, then Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Social Affairs, officiated the opening of the Free Clinic. Singapore Buddhist Free Clinic was thus officially established. To further expand its services, the Free Clinic leased the void deck at Block 348 #01-2096, Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 from HDB to set up its Ang Mo Kio Branch in 1992. The Branch commenced its operation on 1 September 1992 and was officially opened by Mrs. Wee Kim Wee, the then First Lady on 22 November 1992.

Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 was completed and opened for operations on 22 November 1990.

On 22 November 2001 is the official opening of Civil Defence Heritage Gallery at the old block 1908. The concept of Civil Defence Heritage Gallery was developed aim at heightening the public's awareness of civil defence. It is a main public education tool for the Force by which the general public would gain a better understanding of civil defence and fire safety. The hands on exhibits allow them to learn fire safety and prevention skills. In addition, by tracing the illustrious history of fire fighting and civil defence in Singapore, the importance and need for Total Defence are impressed upon the visitors.

The last day of Singapore Coins and Notes Museum at 40 Pagoda Street (Singapore 059199) was on 22 November 2014.


23 November

Television Singapura was launched as a pilot monochrome service on 15 February 1963. On 2 April 1963, less than two months after the inauguration of the pilot service, the regular service (Channel 5) was established with extended hours of transmission. On 23 November 1963, a second channel (Channel 8) was introduced and hours of transmission were further extended.

Yusof Ishak stayed in office till his death on 23 November 1970, during his third term in office (National Library Board, 2006). He died of heart failure at the General Hospital, having been admitted on the night of 21 November 1970 after a recurrence of respiratory and heart problems. At the time of his death, he had been in office for more than 10 years. The first term of office was as Head of State under colonial rule; the second and third were as President of Singapore. Thousands of people turned up when the leaders of Singapore escorted the body of the President through the city streets and did not move away even when it began to rain midway through the 90-minute foot procession. This was a testament to Yusof Ishak’s dedication as a man of the people. He was buried with full State honours at Kranji National Cemetery.

Barings, founded in 1762, was the oldest merchant bank in Britain before its collapse in 1995. The 233-year-old bank was brought down single-handedly by its employee, Nick Leeson - a derivatives trader. After landing the bank with a debt of S$1.4 billion, Leeson fled for Malaysia. By the time of the collapse, the banks accumulated losses amounted to S$2.2 billion. On 23 November 1995, Leeson was extradited to Singapore. Leeson pleaded guilty to two charges and was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison in Singapore.

The Singapore Discovery Centre was officially opened by his excellency, President Ong Teng Cheong, on 23 November 1996 with the presence of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Dr Tony Tan. In 1998, SDC started a review of the Centre to change from a historical to an issue-based orientation.


24 November

Singapore, as a Settlement, reported her first earthquake on 24 November 1833. The earthquake occurred at 8:35 pm with the shocks felt distinctly at Kampong Glam and lasting for a minute or two. Two after shocks followed in the early morning, around 3:00 am and between 4:00 am and 5:00 am. The earthquake was believed to be a result of volcanic activity in Sumatra.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on 3 November 1990 to mark the official start of the causeway's construction. The Keppel-Brani link was completed about a year later and officially opened on 24 November 1991. It became the second causeway out of Singapore and the first land link to be constructed between Singapore and an offshore island.

The Sri Krishnan Temple is one of the oldest temples in Singapore. Hanuman Beem Singh set up a shrine for Lord Krishna under a Banyan tree in Waterloo Street in 1870. Sculptors brought in from South India built the main shrine and dome and the temple was consecrated in 1933. In 1935, V. Pakirisamy Pillai, an Indian philanthropist, took over the leadership of the temple. It was largely through his efforts that the temple was developed on a grand scale. In 1958, he constructed a concrete mandapam (hall) in memory of his mother and a two-storey ancillary building. The consecration ceremony was held in 1959. To serve the Hindu community better, the multi-purpose hall was re-built as a four-storey building with a basement and temple structures such as the main entrance were renovated extensively in 2001. The consecration ceremony for this phase of development of the temple was held on 24 November 2002.

National Gallery Singapore (新加坡国家美术馆) opened on 24 November 2015, it oversees the world’s largest public collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian art, consisting of over 8,000 artworks.