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  Lives Notes

The Live Notes are the sources and references used in the exhibition catalogue. For readers who have a copy of the catalogue, please click on the following:

Section 1
Looking Back - Political Milestones Leading to the Birth of the Republic

Section 2
Making Friends and Defending Our Sovereignty

Section 3
The Story of an Economic Miracle

Section 4
Caring for the Nation

Section 5
Living Together in Harmony



Section 2 Making Friends and Defending our Sovereignty

Making Friends

Page 47, Para 2: Singapore Year Book 1965 (Singapore: Government Printing Office, 1965), p.16.

Page 47, Para 2: Between 10 to 29 August 1965, it was reported in the Straits Times that the following countries had recognised Singapore’s Independence:

Date of Article Nation
10 August 1965 Malaysia
11 August 1965 Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia, Japan
12 August 1965 USA
13 August 1965 India, Netherlands, South Vietnam, Republic of China (Taiwan), South Korea, Belgium
14 August 1965 Canada, West Germany
15 August 1965 Thailand
16 August 1965 Finland
18 August 1965 Laos
21 August 1965 Gambia
25 August 1965 United Arab Republic (UAR), Switzerland
29 August 1965 Nigeria, Ethiopia, Greece

Page 47, Para 3: Arasu, V. T. and Daljit Singh, eds. Singapore, An Illustrated History, 1941 -1984 (Singapore: Information Division, Ministry of Culture, Singapore 1984), p.299.

Goodwill Mission to Afro-Asian Countries

Page 49, Para 1: Singapore Year Book 1965 (Singapore: Government Printing Office), p.140.

Page 50, Para 1: Ibid, p.139. And The Commonwealth, Commonwealth Secretariat Website, (2007).

Page 50, Para 1: Lee, Kuan Yew. From Third World To First: The Singapore Story, 1965-2000: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew (Singapore: Times Editions, Singapore Press Holdings, 2000), p.392.

Page 50, Para 2: The Commonwealth, Commonwealth Secretariat Website, (2007).

Page 52, Para 1: Acharya, Amitav and Herbert Lin. "Singapore and ASEAN: The Art of the Possible", S. Rajaratnam on Singapore: From Ideas to Reality, Ed. Kwa Chong Guan. (Hackensack, New Jersey: World Scientific Publishing Company: Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, 2006), p.83.

Box Story: Konfrontasi- The Prologue

Page 54, Para 1: Singapore Year Book 1965, p.7. And Bin Haji Mohamed Ali and Another v. Public Prosecutor, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (U.K.), 29 July 1968. International Humanitarian Law, International Committee of the Red Cross, (7 September 2007),

Page 54, Para 2: Singapore Year Book 1967 (Singapore: Government Printing Office, 1967), p.15.

Page 54, Para 1: "We now know Indonesian leaders more intimately", Malay Mail, 8 September 1967. And "Singapore Embassy in Jakarta sacked", The Straits Times, 18 October 1968.

Page 54, Para 3: Singapore Year Book 1969 (Singapore: Government Printing Office, 1969), p.125. And speech by the Singapore Ambassador to Indonesia, H.E. Mr. Lee Khoon Choy, at the opening of the Singapore Consulate in Medan, 9 June 1972.

Page 54, Para 3: Joint Press release by the Ministers of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia and the Republic of Singapore, 2 April 1969.

Page 55, Para 1: Lee, Khoon Choy. Diplomacy of a Tiny State: Second Edition (Singapore: World Scientific, 1993), p.264.

Page 56, Para 1: Joint Communique - issued on the occasion of the official visit of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore to the Republic of Indonesia, 27 May 1973.

Page 56, Para 1: Extract of speech by Indonesian President Suharto at the state banquet held at the State Palace in honour of PM Lee and Mrs Lee's visit to Indonesia, 25 May 1973.

Page 56, Para 2: Joint Communique - issued on the occasion of the official visit of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore to the Republic of Indonesia, 27 May 1973.

Page 56, Para 3: From Third World To First: The Singapore Story, 1965-2000: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew, p.303.

Defending Our Sovereignty

Page 59, Para 1: Dr Goh’s most immediate and important task as Defense Minister was to build up a credible Singapore armed forces, literally from scratch, in double quick time. Dr Goh was convinced that a strong Singapore army was necessary to secure the country’s independence, as he explained in this speech he gave in Parliament as Minister of Defense on 23rd December 1965 (full speech transcript available online at

“British military protection today has made quite a number of our citizens complacent about the need to conduct our own defence preparations. These people assume that this protection will be permanent. I regard it as the height of folly to plan our future on this assumption and, indeed, the only rational basis on which we, as an independent country, can plan its future is on the opposite assumption….Nobody, neither we nor the British can say when this will be….[but] whatever the time may be, it would be useless then to think about building up our defence forces.”

Page 59, Para 1: Koh, Boon Pin and Lee Gok Boi. Shoulder to Shoulder: Our National Service Journal: commemorating 35 years of National Service (Singapore: Ministry of Defence, 2002), p.34.

Page 59, para 1, line 7:

Former Minister for Culture and Social Affairs, Othman Wok, explained the origins of the People’s Defence Force as well as some of the top civil servants who enlisted for it, in his oral history interview, Accession number 000774, reel 1:

"… the People’s Defence Force actually was a force which was already in existence in Singapore, but with a different name. It was the Singapore Voluteer [Corps] formed by the British Government way back in [1854]

“When we think at that time about defence in Singapore and we had no big army that time except for the 1st and 2nd SIR [Singapore Infantry Regiment], and prior to thinking of having a people’s army, we thought we should revamp the Singapore Volunteer [Corps] and call it by a local name, People’s Defence Force….

So the People's Defence Force was formed in December… 1965, and we went all out to recruit as many volunteers as possible locally to join this force. And during this time, MPs [Members of Parliament] were approached by the Prime Minister to serve in the force as an example to others, that where defence and security are concerned, every Singaporean should take part in it….

“… there were some of the Ministers. I can remember some of them. Mr Ong Pang Boon who was then the Minister for Labour; Mr Wee Toon Boon, at that time Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister [for] Home Affairs, myself and Mr Chan Chee Seng, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Social Affairs; and Mr Andrew Fong, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Culture at that time. And quite a number of MPs….

"There wasn't any protest at all [unlike when the British introduced conscription in the 1950s]. It was just after Separation. And all the time, a lot of talk and a lot of discussion had been going on on how we could defend our country when it was separated from Malaysia. This, I think, put some food for thought among the people of Singapore. And since we couldn't depend on the British to defend us - we have become independent already - then this new spirit comes into the people to say that 'it's our responsibility to defend our own country'. And the MP who joined in also, I think, showed a good example to his constituents that he's ever ready to defend and play his part if there is turmoil in the country or attack from outside. And that gave inspiration. And many of the MPs managed to get their constituents to come in from the CCC [Citizens’ Consultative Committee], from the MC [Management Committees] into the People's Defence Force."

Page 60, para 1, line 3:

Othman Wok, in his oral history interview, explained the rationale behind National Service and describes the send-off dinner held for the first batch of conscripts:

"… when the Bill was promulgated before it went to Parliament, all MPs [Members of Parliament] were told about the Government's intention of introducing National Service. And we were told that the only way that we can have a strong trained army without having to spend too much money, in other words, to get professional soldiers which we felt that time would not receive good response from the people, is to have a People's Army. If we were to have professional soldiers, we feel it will only be received warmly only by one race - the Malays. For example, you'll find in the British Army, the majority of the soldiers were Malays. Professional soldiers, I mean. Monthly-paid soldiers in the British Army. Whether it's in the Infantry or in other units. So what we had in mind was to have a multi-racial People's Army. Everyone, whether he's a Malay or an Indian or Eurasian or any other race, will have to serve in this army that we were to form. And we decided that we should have this type of army in Singapore….

"Then the Bill went to Parliament and it was passed. Then we started registering those who were 18. So the first batch was called up in Pasir Panjang. I got the CCC [Citizens’ Consultative Committee] and MC [Management Committee] to hold dinner party for them. Encourage them, you know. Give them a big "send-off". And the CC [Community Centre] went around collecting all sorts of little presents for them - towels, foot powder, all sorts of things - thinking that these would not be supplied by the army. I remember that night we sent about 200 youths from Pasir Panjang and from the various constituencies at Pasir Panjang Community Centre. Army vehicles were lining up to take them to camp. We invited the parents. We spent a few thousand dollars (the CCC, MC) to give dinners to the parents . You know, to make them happy....

"Well, after the dinner I gave away all these presents that were collected by the MC and the CCC. Then when the time to say goodbye came, you see all the parents crying, like they were losing their children. That there was going to be heII for their children in the army camps. I think they knew that in the past, when you were in the army, you had to go [through] rigorous training and you had a very nasty sergeant-major in the camp [bullying] the children. So that's what they thought. But this begins to wear off later. We still had this sending-off ceremony for a couple of years. But later, when the first batch came back, [they] told their friends and their parents that 'It was a hard life, but it was a good hard life. By the way it is good training.' And those who had never run three miles before, found that they could do it and their physiques improved. And this feeling of fear and suspicion all went off....

"So after a couple of years there was no need to hold this kind of big ceremonies to send them off. They were just told to report at that time to the community centres and the lorries just came and took them off. Of course their parents came. But no tears anymore."

Page 60, Para 2: Dr Goh believed that Singaporean citizens should participate directly as soldiers in their country’s defence to reinforce their sense of responsibility to the national community and to strengthen their bonds with one another as countrymen. Dr Goh thought that this was especially important as Singapore as new nation populated by migrants of diverse origins and particularistic interests did not possess a strong national consciousness, as expressed in this speech he made as Minister of Defence at the passing out parade of the first intake of Poeple’s Defence Force officer cadets on 29th November 1966 (full speech transcript available online at

“Throughout man’s long history, defense of the community has always been regarded as a noble duty. In the process of integrating loose collections of people into a nation with a strong sense of identity, military service has played a significant role. From the Greek City States of the fifth century B.C. to the twentieth century continental super powers, we have seen how the development of the national consciousness has been so often centred around service in the defence force…In Singapore, we are not yet a close knit community, so many of our people are of recent migrant origin. All this goes towards creating a sense of values which is personal, self-centred with anti-social tendencies where a conflict arises between personal interests and social obligations. These are the values of a rootless parvenu society. We cannot hope to remove them overnight, but in the process of creating a stronger national consciousness among our people, we will find that military service will play an important role..”

When Dr Goh gave up his defence portfolio in 1979 he left Singapore with a well rounded citizen army containing commando units, armoured battalions and an air force – the core of a modern army – when previously Singapore had none of these things.

Page 60, Para 2: Chiang, Mickey. Fighting Fit: The Singapore Armed Forces (Singapore: Times Editions, 1990), pp 38-39.

Page 61, Caption 1: Shoulder to Shoulder: Our National Service Journal: commemorating 35 years of National Service, p.41.

Page 62, Photograph and caption (top): One of a Kind – Remembering SAFTI’s First Batch (SAFTI Military Institute, 2007)
On 16 July 1967, SAFTI saw the first batch of 117 officer cadets from three platoons graduate at the first commissioning parade at Pasir Laba, Jurong. Accompanying Dr Goh Keng Swee were Major John Morrice (Parade Commander) and LTC Kirpa Ram Vij (Director SAFTI), who went through all three ranks of the officer cadet contingent. Also present was the supporting contingent of Non-Commissioned-Officers (NGOs) who were in their No. 3 Dress (shown in photograph).

Page 62, Para 1: Fighting Fit: The Singapore Armed Forces, pp 38-39.

Page 63, Caption 2: Lim, Peter H. L. Navy: The Vital Force (Singapore: Republic of Singapore Navy, 1992), p. 32.

Page 63, Caption 3: Liu, Gretchen. The Air Force (Singapore: Republic of Singapore Air Force, 1988), p. 18.

Page 65, Para 2: About Total Defence, Total Defence website, Ministry of Defence Singapore, 2007.

Page 65, Caption 1: 6th FPDA Defence Ministers' Meeting, Ministry of Defence Singapore. 2007.




  Last Updated on on 06 July 2010  

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