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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 3 The Story of an Economic Miracle

Page 66, epigraph: Quote extracted from Lee Kuan Yew, From Third World to First: The Singapore Story 1965 - 2000 Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew (Singapore: Times Editions, 2000), pp. 23-24.

Page 66, para 2: Dr Goh was responsible for developing the economic strategy that is crucial to explaining Singapore’s economic takeoff. Between 1959 and 1965, he advocated an import-substitution strategy and positioned Singapore as a manufacturing centre supplying the common Malaysian market. Following Singapore’s independence in 1965, Dr Goh realized the futility of keeping to this plan and began promoting an export-oriented developmental strategy. By adopting this export-oriented strategy, he went against influential economic theories circulating in the 1960s and 1970s which asserted that state protectionism and heavy government expenditure was necessary to spur growth in emerging economies.

Dr Goh formulated policies which had Singapore adopt an open economy that encouraged free trade, competition and foreign direct investment by multi-national corporations, while encouraging economic thrift and prudence by the Singapore government and people. Dr Goh was also convinced that successful economic development depended on the determination, initiative, enterprise and self-reliance of a people and that good government should encourage these qualities. He outlined these convictions in a speech to the Chinese Chamber of Commerce on 15th March 1969 (full speech transcript available online at http://archivesonline.nas.sg/):

“We in Singapore believe in hard work. We believe that enterprise should be rewarded and not penalized. We believe that we must adjust ourselves to changing situations. We believe in seizing economic opportunities and not let them go past us. Finally, we believe in self-reliance…..These are human qualities that have helped to transform an island-swamp into a thriving metropolis. They are the traditional virtues of Singaporeans and so long as we retain these virtues, we can face the future with confidence.”

Dr Goh’s convictions were proved correct and his thought remains a cornerstone of Singapore’s economic policy.


Industralisation

Page 69, para 1: Quote extracted from Oral History Centre's interview with Dr Albert Winsemius in 1982, Accession number 000246, reel 5.

Page 70, para 2: In less than a decade, the industrialisation drive in Jurong contributed significantly to the economy of Singapore - the GDP (at factor cost) reached $5.565m, an increase of $724m or 15% over the previous year, and manufacturing ranked top in percentage contribution to the growth. It was Dr Goh’s vision and political determination to push through the Jurong Industrial Estate project in the face of much public scepticism and criticism that was decisive in transforming Jurong into a large and thriving industrial complex, equipped with efficient and modern infrastructure and facilities capable of attracting numerous investors, and providing jobs, incomes and homes to many Singaporeans. Jurong had turned out to be a “Goh’s Glory”.

Page 70, para 2: Quote extracted from speech by Minister of Finance, Dr Goh Keng Swee, at the 5th Anniversary dinner of the Jurong Industries Association held at the Hotel Equatorial, 21 May 1970.

Page 71, para 1, line 13: Ministry of National Development Planning Department, Master Plan First Review 1965 Report of Survey, p. 78.

Page 72, para 1, line 2: These incentives were offered through the Pioneer Industries (Relief from Income Tax) Ordinance and the Industrial Expansion (Relief from Income Tax) Ordinance of 1959, and subsequently the Economic Expansion Incentives (Relief from Income Tax) Act in 1967.

Page 73, para 1, line 7:

Ngiam Tong Dow, former Economic Development Board (EDB) Chairman, recalled how Dr Goh Keng Swee strategised to encourage the opening as many factories as possible in the 1960s and 1970s, in his oral history interview, Accession number 001658, reel 2:

"I used to be, what they called, the Promotion Officer for Dr Goh. That means I am the chief gong banger. I banged the gong for him. So he used to tell me, "I want to open [more factories]." Every week I must open two or three factories. So I used to go and scout around all the new companies begging them to open their so-called factories.

“…we welcomed any type of employment. There was a factory making joss paper. We called it a factory. [There were factories] making hair cream, making kaya, jam. He used to go and open. All he asked was: 'You write me a one-page speech.' He just goes there, makes a short speech and then gets the TV to cover. Dr Goh was really a strategist. His whole idea was to create confidence. So the more people see the Minister opening factories, the more confidence there is in Singapore. It's just like the classic tactic, the Chinese war tactic. When you are really down to your last troop, you circulate a troop round the city to give the impression that you are very well defended. So similarly, the same tactic was used.

“And I still remember quite a number of them, especially the Indonesian Chinese. They were the ones that really believed in some industries in Singapore, like National Iron and Steel Mill. Mr Goh Tjoei Kok was actually from Indonesia. He was a rubber merchant from Indonesia. His group, together with one or two Singapore groups. Then other factories like Ocean Garments. Mr T T Tay - he's from Indonesia. They all came under the immigration scheme. If they put down half a million dollars or hundred thousand [dollars], I can't remember the figure, they were given permanent residence. So they started all these small factories. Ming Tai Garments. Today, Ming Tai is a big property developer. They were from Hongkong.

"The main thing is to create employment. Once you created employment and when a person has a job, he becomes more responsible. Employment is the best antidote to Communism.”

Page 73, para 1: Quote extracted from Lee Kuan Yew, From Third World to First: The Singapore Story 1965 - 2000 Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew (Singapore: Times Editions, 2000), p. 80.

Page 74, para 1: Quote extracted from "Memorandum to the Government of Singapore on the Economic Situation after Singapore Day, 1965, by Dr A Winsemius", 2 October 1965, p. 8.

Page 75, para 1: Quote extracted from Oral History Centre's interview with Lee Ong Pong in 2001, Accession number 002510, reel 17.

Page 76, para 1: Quote extracted from Oral History Centre's interview with Dr Albert Winsemius in 1982, Accession number 000246, reels 9 and 14.

Page 76, caption 2: Economic Development Board Annual Report 1976-1977, p. 10.


Expanding Trade Links

Page 77, para 1: Quote extracted from "Aide Memoire Economic Situation in Singapore after Independence, 1965", 9 December 1965, p. 5.

Page 78, para 1, line 7: The formation of INTRACO was recognised as Singapore's first organised effort in international marketing, and was jointly-owned by the Singapore Government, the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) and private enterprises. Besides promoting the export of Singapore-made goods and setting up trading relations on behalf of Singapore merchants, INTRACO also imported raw materials and manufactured goods in bulk for local traders. Extracted from You Poh Seng and Lim Chong Yah, The Singapore Economy (Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 1971), p. 242.

Page 78, para 2: Quote extracted from Oral History Centre's interview with Dr Albert Winsemius in 1982, Accession number 000246, reel 9.

Page 80, para 1, line 4: SISIR had its origins in the Industrial Research Unit (IRU) set up under the Economic Development Board at the Singapore Polytechnic in 1963, to test products and ensure that they met a certain standard in quality.

Page 80, para 2: Quote extracted from speech by the Minister for Culture, Jek Yeun Thong, at the Opening Ceremony of the Singapore Manufacturers' Association's Exhibition to Promote "Buy Singapore-Made Goods" Campaign, at the Singapore Conference Hall, 15 September 1971.


Industrial Peace - An Ingredient for Economic Success

Page 82, caption 1: Annual Report of the President of the Industrial Arbitration Court 1968, pp. 12-13.

Page 83, caption 1:

Chin Harn Tong, who helped establish NTUC COMFORT and was subsequently apppointed its executive director in 1972, explained the NTUC’s Modernisation of the Labour Movement in his oral history interview, Accession number 0001311, reel 1:

"NTUC... at that time was starting the Modernisation of Labour Movement Programme…. The main objective of the trade union movement then was to fight for higher wages and better terms and conditions for the workers. Employers and employees were always in a confrontational situation. The NTUC's Modernisation Programme, therefore, sought to widen the labour movement's horizon - from confrontation with the employers to working with them and the Government together. Tripartism thus achieved good labour-management relations for the benefit of all parties. It also sought to assist the workers in other ways than only fighting for higher wages and better terms and conditions. Thus was born the NTUC co-operatives such as NTUC Welcome (now it is known as NTUC FAIRPRICE) to stabilise prices of basic commodities like rice and sugar, NTUC INCOME to make life insurance more affordable for the workers, and NTUC COMFORT to help taxi drivers own their taxis.

"Traditional trade union activities up to the end of the 1960s were confrontational in nature as unions then frequently had to fight every inch of the way for higher wages and better terms and conditions for the workers. With tripartism however, the scope of union activities became less confrontational and more consensual. It became necessary, therefore, for the unions to expand the scope of their activities in order to remain relevant to the workers' needs in the 1970s and beyond....

"[The people, other than myself, who were actively involved in helping to set up NTUC Comfort] were Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Devan Nair and the late Professor Elliott. The then Prime Minister's personal interest, support and concern for the success of NTUC COMFORT was evident in that he personally phoned me about the co-operative on a few occasions in 1971. I also went to the Istana a couple of times to see him on NTUC COMFORT matters."

Page 83, caption 1: Both the NTUC Insurance Commercial Enterprise (NTUC INCOME) and the NTUC Workers' Co-operative Commonwealth for Transport Ltd (COMFORT) were formed in 1970. NTUC Welcome, the consumer co-operative, immediately acted against rampant profiteering by selling essential commodities at low prices to cover the actions of unscrupulous traders who had hoarded such items to push up prices. Welcome's actions brought relief to Singaporeans. Extracted from Daljit Singh and V T Arasu, Singapore: An Illustrated History, 1941-1984 (Singapore: Information Division of the Ministry of Culture, 1984), p. 324.

Page 83, para 1: Quote extracted from speech by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Labour, S Rajaratnam, at the Working Session of NTUC's Delegates Seminar on "Modernisation of the Labour Movement" at the Singapore Conference Hall, 17 November 1969.

Page 84, para 1: Quote extracted from Oral History Centre's interview with Dr Albert Winsemius in 1982, Accession number 000246, reel 16.

Page 85, para 2: Ibid., reel 5.


Boosting Sea, Air and Land Communications and Public Utilities Infrastructure

Port Development

Page 86, para 2, line 5: Dr Goh faced initial difficulties in finding a suitable business partner, but eventually managed to persuade Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co Ltd of Japan (IHI), then the world's largest shipbuilder in gross tonnage, to form a joint venture. The Japanese company would supply the machinery, technology, key personnel, management know-how and extensive distribution network while the Singapore Government would provide land, labour and facilities required for the development of a shipyard.

Page 86, para 2: Quote extracted from Goh Keng Swee, The Economics of Modernization and Other Essays (Singapore: Asia Pacific Press, 1972), p. 212.

Page 87, para 2, line 5: The British military withdrawal meant the loss of 39,550 jobs and could adversely affect the national economy since the military bases contributed one-fifth of the country's GDP. Extracted from Budget Day Speech by Goh Keng Swee, in Linda Low (ed), Wealth of East Asian Nations, (Singapore: Federal Publications, 1995), p. 9; and Linda Low, The Political Economy of a City State: Government-Made Singapore, (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 43.

Page 88, para 2, line 6: Ministry of National Development Planning Department, Master Plan First Review 1965 Report of Survey, pp. 54-55.

Page 88, para 3, line 2:

Dr Albert Winsemius recalled convincing Dr Goh Keng Swee to push for the containerisation of the Port of Singapore Authority in his oral history interview, Accession Number 000246, reel 12:

"So being in Singapore, I think at that time Dr Goh was once more Minister for Finance or in his capacity of Deputy Prime Minister and indeed I thought I need a pusher; I need really a pusher. So I went to Dr Goh, said 'Look here, that are my figures on the North Atlantic container-run. And it is going to happen here. I can guarantee you that. I can't get them moving. And the World Bank is against it. They consider it too early. There is only one way, with the same figures, you and I go to the Harbour Board, to PSA, and in principle you tell them that you would consider it unwise to put it off. Even if there is a chance, let's say half a year that container port is lying idle, using interest and doing nothing, Singapore has to be the first one as to attract it.

"’And you should tell them, in my opinion, at least give them very clearly the impression if they do not come with a plan to rapidly make a container port that you will continue to have them by the planners. On the other hand, if they do come with it, in as far as co-operation from Finance or even the Cabinet would be needed, that you will give them that protection.'

"So Dr Goh practically dictated them to build that container port regardless of the World Bank."

Page 88, para 3, line 5: Extracted from Oral History Centre's interview with Goh Koh Pui in 1983, Accession number 000288, reel 14.

Page 88, para 3, line 7: Extracted from speech by Minister for Communications, Yong Nyuk Lin, at the Pile-Driving Ceremony of the $40-million Container Wharf Terminal at East Lagoon, 16 June 1969.

Page 88, para 4, line 2:

Herman Ronald Hochstadt, who was Permanent Secretary (Communications) from 1972-75, recalled the growth and expansion of Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) in the 1970s, and the role that PSA Chairman Howe Yoon Chong played in it, in his oral history interview, Accession number 001396, reel 4:

"I think it was foreseen some years earlier that containerisation would be the thing for the future. So they started the little container wharves and things like that in the Tanjong Pagar area. And obviously with the growth in containerisation, containerised traffic, then it was found that it was not suitable anymore. It was getting too small. So then it started expanding more and more in the Tanjong Pagar area. And then Mr Howe Yoon Chong became Chairman of PSA. And I think he was very wise and commissioned some studies and also looked at it and said, 'There's no way you can really expand Tanjong Pagar. You've got to move your port away, developed it from other...' So he promoted the idea of developing Sembawang port. Then his concept really was that you ultimately moved your container port from the city, more to the west coast area and then to Sembawang and maybe into Changi. Later when the concept of moving the airport to Changi, linked it up with Changi also. So that was his idea.

"So the vision was that you built up Tanjong Pagar area to serve immediate needs while you develop great major container ports elswhere. And he had great foresight, Mr Howe Yoon Chong. And he was really responsible for much of the reclamation around Singapore. The east coast areas, he's the one who promoted all these. The east coast areas. All the islands, off shore islands. And he went a great way towards getting all that done up. Then he was also responsible for setting up the hydrological team in the PSA which was responsible doing all the major studies along the coastal areas of Singapore, see what sort of reclamation we can do in terms of the water flows, the contours and the port areas. What you can do for dredging. Or you can contour the ports and all that. He was a great leader of the port.”

Page 88, para 4, line 2: Tribute to Mr Howe Yoon Chong from President S R Nathan and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's Condolence Letter to Mrs Howe Yoon Chong, 22 August 2007.

Page 88, para 4, line 7: Port of Singapore Authority Annual Report 1971, p. 7.

Page 88, para 4, line 8: Port of Singapore Authority Annual Report 1975, p. 11.

Page 88, para 4: Quote extracted from Howe Yoon Chong, 'The Port of Singapore', in National Trades Union Congress, Towards Tomorrow: Essays on Development and Social Transformation in Singapore (Singapore: The Singapore National Trades Union Congress, 1973), p. 104.

Page 89, caption: Quote extracted from The Eastern Sun, 2 November 1970, p. 3.


Air Transport

Page 91, para 1, line 24:

The decision to move the civilian airport from Paya Lebar to Changi was not made without considerable debate within the government. As Bernard Chen Tien Lap, who was then Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, recalled in his oral history interview, Accession no. 2530, reel 6:

"… in 1975, ’76 we [in the Ministry of Finance] submitted a proposal to extend the present Paya Lebar Airport by putting a second runway. And immediately there became two schools; one school is to put the airport at Paya Lebar because it’s more cost-effective because the airport is already there. You don’t have to build much again. The other school was to put it at Changi... the Finance Ministry was pushing for Paya Lebar. But the Communication Ministry was pushing for Changi. And [Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew] was inclined to go to Changi. PM’s point at that time was environmental because Paya Lebar is in the midst of a very densely populated area. You put a second runway there it’s going to cause a lot of environmental problems. But the Finance Ministry was thinking that look we only got that much money in those days so we got to be cost effective.

"So, I think, PM was kind of, caught between two worlds. Finally… and only he can make the decision, we can’t, you see, civil servants. He called up Howe Yoon Chong who was then in the Communication Ministry, I think and he said, 'Write me a report to go Changi in one month.' And then Howe Yoon Chong caught hold of Lim Hock San. Lim Hock San who later on became the CEO of… CAAS and now he’s in Singapore Land. And he wrote a beautiful report justifying for Changi and it was decided [laughter] and it’s 1.2 billion. A lot of money in those days… In retrospect, I think, P.M. made the right decision to go to Changi. Quality of life is totally different and now Changi got more room to expand, they can put the third runway. We’d never be able to put the third runway in Paya Lebar.

"But then Mr Hon [Sui Sen, then Finance Minister] was fighting tooth and nail for Paya Lebar and we in the Finance got to follow, you see. So it was quite a big task but we could see the foresight of P.M. in the sense that he is saying, 'Let’s move to Changi but make sure that two things are done. One is that we don’t want any services to be disrupted, it would be disastrous, you know, we’re an aviation hub.'

"So you got to make sure that Paya Lebar remains a standby. If Changi doesn’t work, the planes got to go back to Paya Lebar. And you got to make sure you can bus the passengers back to Paya Lebar so that’s why we have two major highways built. PIE with a bypass to Paya Lebar and the ECP. And very few people appreciate this – we moved to Paya Lebar to Changi in one night without any disruption service. The last flight out of Paya Lebar was an SIA flight about 11.30 [p.m.]. The first flight into Changi was 6 o’clock [a.m.] or something like that, Singapore Airlines. Everything was ready. We didn’t have to bus anybody back. This is quite an achievement, you know, nobody could have done it without all the planning.

Page 92, para 1, line 9:

Ngiam Tong Dow explained how the Malaysia-Singapore Airlines split into Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines in 1972, in his oral history interview, Accession number 1658, reel 5:

"Malaysia and Singapore shared a common airline. We couldn't agree on a common currency but we shared a common airline. In the end we had to split again because of differing national objectives. The Malaysians wanted the airline - basically it was a domestic airline - to serve all the different towns in East and West Malaysia. Whereas we are only one city. We thought that Singapore Airline must be an international airline. Domestic airlines normally do not make money because the fares will always be controlled. I think until today MAS suffers from that disadvantage. Of course, MAS has already become an international airline. But you cannot easily increase air fares on domestic routes. Whereas on the international routes, you have to go by the market.

"I think that was the best thing because the moment we split, Singapore Airlines became an international airline, whereas Malaysian Airlines remained, at least in the first 10 years, as a domestic airline. So our growth was much faster than MAS. But in the end they also realised that they had to go international, although the priorities in the beginning were more domestic. I think we never looked back."

Page 91, para 1, line 24: Extracted from Oral History Centre's interview with Herman R Hochstadt in 1993, Accession number 001396, reel 4. And Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's Condolence Letter to Mrs Howe Yoon Chong, 22 August 2007. And Lee Kuan Yew, From Third World to First: The Singapore Story 1965 - 2000, (Singapore: Times Editions, 2000) pp. 230-231.

Page 92, para 2, line 7: Extracted from speech by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Singapore Airlines A380 Welcome Event, 17 October 2007.

Page 92, para 2, line 11: Extracted from Oral History Centre's interview with J Y Pillay in 1995, Accession number 001583, reel 7.

Page 92, caption: Extracted from "Oral Answers to Questions on Malaysia-Singapore Airlines (Restructure of)" by Minister for Finance, Hon Sui Sen, Parliamentary Debates - Republic of Singapore: Official Report, First Session of the Second Parliament, Vol. 30, 22 March 1971.


Land Transport

Page 93, para 2, line 5: Ministry of National Development Planning Department, Master Plan First Review 1965 Report of Survey, pp. 57-61.

Page 94, para 1, line 14: Singapore Facts and Pictures 1975, p. 98.

Page 94, para 1, line 16: Press release by the Ministry of Culture, "Traffic cut by half during peak… ALS proves to be a real success", 11 September 1975.

Page 95, para 1: Quote extracted from Oral History Centre's interview with A P Gopinath Menon in 2000, Accession number 002233, reel 5.

Page 96, para 1, line 5: Extracted from "Oral Answers to Questions on Fringe Car Parks (Request for Free Use)" by Minister of State for National Development, Dr Tan Eng Liang (for the Minister for National Development and Communications), Parliamentary Debates - Republic of Singapore: Official Report, Second Session of the Third Parliament, Vol. 35, 15 March 1976.


Public Buses Restructuring

Page 97, para 2, line 3:

Herman Ronald Hochstadt, who was Permanent Secretary (Ministry of Communications) from 1972-75, recalled how the problem of private taxis was solved in his oral history interview, Accession number 001396, reel 4:

"I think one of the main things that drove the pirate taxis out of business was that the licence fee for diesel powered motor-cars was increased by I think about four times, four times of what it cost for a petrol driven one. And most of the pirate taxis were really diesel at that point of time. And then other fees were put up. So all these various activities really killed off the pirate taxis. And of course then there was also a very concerted drive by the ROV and police to weed out all the remaining pirate taxis. So they were hounded. And then the door to getting the proper taxi licences was opened up. So a whole host of people could get taxi licences. And then the NTUC Comfort was introduced, to introduce also an element of ownership of taxis by the individual drivers."

Ngiam Tong Dow explained how the establishment of NTUC COMFORT helped eradicate private taxis, in his oral history interview, Accession number 001658, reel 5:

"I think the pirate taxi problem was solved when we started COMFORT. Previously, the number of taxis was controlled by the Yellow Top owners. We helped the NTUC to start COMFORT where the taxi-driver, being a driver all his life, in the end became an owner driver. That was a very successful scheme. The Finance Ministry provided COMFORT with the first loan. At that time they had no collateral. We provided them with a loan. They, in turn, then sold the taxis by instalments to the taxi-drivers.

"So once you get a proper fleet of taxis well managed, then I think the pirate taxi problem was [solved]. Of course there was strict enforcement. You must always provide an alternative. If your regular taxi service is bad, the bus services are bad, then pirate taxis will emerge. It's all a matter of economics. But the moment you have a regular taxi service and a better bus service, then I think the pirate taxis, with some enforcement, the problem will solve. In a way the pirate taxi also was an absorber of unemployment. You must remember that in the early days, in the whole of the 1960s, there was quite a bit of unemployment in Singapore. So they became pirate taxi-drivers."

Page 97, para 2, line 6:

Herman Ronald Hochstadt, who was Permanent Secretary (Ministry of Communications) (1972-75) recalled the chaotic state of bus services in his oral history interview, Accession number 001396, reel 4:

"... invariably in everyday's news papers, there were two or three letters complaining about bus services. So it's there for everybody to see. Then the Ministry of Communications was at that time located in City Hall. Then on more than one occasion the bus broke down right in front of City Hall. So if you just come out you could see what was going on. So, I think it was very obvious to everyone there. The real problem, I think, was that small bus companies which were used to operating a few buses on confined or restricted routes was suddenly being put in a different type of service. They didn't have the equipment. They didn't have the people. They didn't have the planning. They didn't have the organisation to cope with it. So it was just a case of being asked to do too much. The Singapore Traction Company was losing money. And it was in fact forced into liquidation more or less. But they were providing a service but at a great cost to the shareholders. And that whole organisation just collapsed almost overnight."

Page 97, para 2, line 11:

In his oral history interview, Accession number 1658, reel 5, Ngiam Tong Dow, who was Acting Permanent Secretary (Ministry of Communications) in 1970, recalled the corruption that took place in the Singapore Traction Company (STC) and also how the company’s workers had to be smoothly re-absorbed into the three other bus companies when the STC closed down:

"In fact, STC (Singapore Traction Company) was riddled with corruption…. The bus conductors used to pocket the fare…. My most vivid experience in the Ministry of Communications was to close down the STC (Singapore Traction Company) because they were just running the fleet down. So finally we decided it was better to close them down and to get the Chinese bus companies to provide the service into the city. That was a good exercise for me in executing policies. At least one or two thousand people were employed by STC. Suddenly for them to be out of job was quite a shock to them. There could have been riots. So we had to make arrangements for them to be absorbed by the Chinese companies which were then allowed the routes to come into the city. So the transition was very well handled."

Page 97, para 2, line 12: Extracted from "Second Reading of the Bus Services Licensing Authority (Amendment) Bill" by Minister of State for Communications, Dr Ang Kok Peng, Parliamentary Debates - Republic of Singapore: Official Report, First Session of the Third Parliament, Vol. 32, 25 July 1973. And "Oral Answers to Questions on Singapore Bus Service Limited (Measures to improve service)" by Minister for Communications, Yong Nyuk Lin, Parliamentary Debates - Republic of Singapore: Official Report, First Session of the Third Parliament, Vol. 33, 14 March 1974.

Page 98, para 1, line 3:

Permanent Secretary (Ministry of Communications) (1972-75) Herman Ronald Hochstadt recalled how the Singapore Bus Service Ltd (SBS) was created from the merging of existing bus companies, in his oral history interview, Accession number 001396, reel 4:

"Well, from 14 bus companies as they became I think just 3… regional companies, all in servicing the city area also. And that they were then merged into one. At the time when they were all merged into one it became the SBS. I myself was not very confident that it would succeed. Because there was no real proper management, no organisation, just nothing, no money. It was almost bankrupt. So, what happened was that the government team of officers (what they called GTO) was sent in, to really to run and manage the company. And that went a great deal towards [matters] getting sorted out. So at least it didn't collapse. And on the basis of that, then they built it up to what SBS is today. I think it was only after about three years then the government team of officials pulled out. But even then although the team pulled out, many of the officers who were part of the team, stayed on as permanent or seconded employees to the SBS.”

Page 98, caption 2:

Permanent Secretary (Ministry of Communications) (1972-75) Herman Ronald Hochstadt recalled some of the schemes introduced to improve the ailing bus system, in his oral history interview, Accession number 001396, reel 4:

“So there was big problems at the bus services getting it organised. And at one stage they even resorted to getting lorries into the city centre to transport workers. They are given special licences, AWC [Adult Workers’ Contract] licence to transport passengers. There was a car pooling system. All the things were brought in to see that the road system didn't collapse.”

Page 98, para 1, line 11: Ibid.

Page 98, para 2, line 11: Extracted from Nanyang Siang Pau, 9 August 1975. And "Oral Answers to Questions on Private Car Ownership (Government policy)" by Minister for Communications, Yong Nyuk Lin, Parliamentary Debates - Republic of Singapore: Official Report, First Session of the Third Parliament, Vol. 33, 15 March 1974.


Planning the Mass Rapid Transit System

Page 99, line 5: Ministry of National Development Planning Department, Master Plan First Review 1965 Report of Survey, p. 63.

Page 100, para 1, line 6: Extracted from "Oral Answers to Questions on Mass Transit System (Operational Date)" by Minister for Communications, Yong Nyuk Lin, Parliamentary Debates - Republic of Singapore: Official Report, First Session of the Third Parliament, Vol. 33, 4 March 1974.

Page 100, para 1: Quote extracted from "Oral Answers to Questions on Mass Transit Study (Progress Made)" by Minister for Communications, Yong Nyuk Lin, 28 August 1974, Parliamentary Debates - Republic of Singapore: Official Report, First Session of the Third Parliament, Vol. 33, 28 August 1974.

Page 101, para 1, line 8: Extracted from Oral History Centre's interview with Ngiam Tong Dow in 1995, Accession number 001658, reel 5.

Page 101, para 1, line 16:

The idea to build the mass rapid transit (MRT) system was a source of great debate within the government. Two oral history accounts give us some insight into how the matter was played out during that period.

In the first account (Accession number 00794, reel 3), Ong Teng Cheong explained how Dr Goh Keng Swee famously objected to the MRT system because he felt it was not economically feasible and how the reclamation of Marina South helped tilt the debate in favour of building the MRT:

"The Prime Minister [Lee Kuan Yew] was in favour of MRT from the start. His view was that MRT was inevitable. The question was when to start, and how to finance it. I think Dr Goh Keng Swee held his [negative] view because he was then Minister for Finance, and he had to finance the project… he was not convinced. He said, 'If you got to spend all this money and subsidise the system, why not spend the money and have an equally effective all-bus system? If an all-bus system is just as good as MRT, why have MRT if you have got to subsidise it?' That was how the great debate started.

"The breakthrough came with the reclamation of Marina South. Well, as you know, Marina South is adjoining the city centre, Telok Ayer Basin, south of Shenton Way. And the only way you can get to Marina South is through a road by the side of Telok Ayer Basin. Only one road! So we said, 'Alright, if large number of people want to get to Marina South, the only way is to have MRT. If there is no MRT, Marina South will remain predominantly an open space. Right? If you have MRT going to Marina South, then that open space can be developed. And all that you need is to sell only part of that developable land to pay for all your MRT costs. Now you have a big chunk of land here. Do you want to develop it or not? If you want to develop, have MRT.'

“Future travel patterns, as MRT slowly settles down, there'll be more and more visible change to our lifestyle. So instead of just one city centre, like we now have, we will have many sub-centres with the MRT stations as the nodal points. They became sub-centres themselves. Because MRT would give you reliable, regular and efficient service, it doesn't matter that much whether your office is in town or in Bedok or in other sub-centres. You know the city is only 15 or 20 minutes away. The land value in these sub-centres will be enhanced."

In the second account (Accession number 001658, reel 5), Ngiam Tong Dow explained his own involvement in the debate and elaborates on Dr Goh Keng Swee’s rationale for opposing the MRT:

"I was very much in favour of Mass Rapid Transit. But as we all know, Dr Goh was against it. So Finance Ministry was against it. But Minister for Communications and everybody else were for it. We really had to fight our way through on this one. We really had a public debate because the sum involved in those days was tremendous - $5 billion. So I think [then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew] wanted to be dead sure that we were right in investing this sum of money.

"But I told [then-PM Lee], I said, "Look, there is no way that you can solve the transport problem without this Mass Rapid Transit because land is limited. How much more road can you build for the buses to run through, if you depend on the bus system?"… In fact, Mr Howe was also telling him. Mr Howe Yoon Chong was very much involved in this. "Unless you are prepared to drive off all other vehicles from our roads, then maybe a bus system will work. But if you are not prepared, then I think the Mass Rapid Transit system have to be brought in." In any case, ours is both a bus as well as a MRT system until today. But it cannot be a total bus system. Impossible.

"But Dr Goh's view was that it was a very lumpy investment and if we are wrong, we can be very wrong. He thought that by adding buses, you add one bus at a time. If you are wrong, then you just write off one bus. But I disagreed with Dr Goh. I told him that this MRT is a way of providing access to the whole of Singapore, and our land prices were bound to appreciate. It was like opening up Singapore. Just like in a huge country, a railway system opens up the whole country. Similarly, the MRT is also a means of opening up the whole of Singapore. You can have quick transport.

"So I looked at it as an economic development project. But Dr Goh looked at it as just a pure traffic project. You can ask him if you interview him. He nearly overturned it. MINCOM put up a paper [saying] the benefits of all this. So he said, "Okay, what are you aiming at? You want to bring the MRT into the city. How many more new jobs can you accommodate in the city with the MRT?" I think we gave some figure. Mr Lim Leong Geok gave some figure. Then he said, 'Okay, $5 billion divided by this number. You mean to tell me that you're going to spend a hundred or two hundred thousand dollars just to be able to bring one more worker into the city?'

"He nearly torpedoed it. It was a sort of minimalist approach. Whereas my approach was the other way round. With the MRT we open up the whole of Singapore. Land values will go up. You can.locate offices [and] factories in various places. You can locate shopping centres in various places. In fact, you can disperse the concentration in the city to the outlying areas. Economists are very dangerous people. Dr Goh is an economist. I am also an economist. [It's] how you interpret the situation. He looked at it from a very narrow point of view. Anyway, thank goodness, the pro-MRT won and the anti-MRT lost.”

Page 101, para 1, line 16: Extracted from "Provisional Mass Rapid Transit Authority Bill" by Minister for Communications and Acting Minister for Culture, Ong Teng Cheong, Parliamentary Debates - Republic of Singapore: Official Report, Second Session of the Fourth Parliament, Vol. 39, 25 March 1980.

Page 101, para 1, line 18: Extracted from "Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Bill" by Minister for the Environment and Minister Communications, Ong Pang Boon, Parliamentary Debates - Republic of Singapore: Official Report, First Session of the Fifth Parliament, Vol. 43, 30 August 1980.


Improving Public Utilities

Page 102, para 1, line 4:

Public Utitilies Board Chairman (1978-1996) Lee Ek Tieng, explained the challenge of Public Utilities Board (PUB) to provide sufficient power during Singapore's rapid industrialisation, in his oral history interview, Accession number 002832, reel 6:

"[At PUB,] priority then… was essentially water, and also one other important thing, that is to provide adequate power supply for the rapid developing Singapore - both the HDB flat as well as the industrialisation. At that time, even some of the growth of electricity was tied to like something like 20% a year. 20% a year, means you got to double your capacity once every four or five years. So that was quite a challenging task…

"[Planning of power was about] trying to catch up with the rapid development. Our projection was always… based on a five-year rolling plan, we never think of 20 years because you would never know. The five-year rolling plan is essentially based on MTI [Ministry of Trade and Industry] ways of projection or GDP growth. And we can always work a formula because power demand is closely tied with the projected GDP growth. But like all things, like some of these infrastructure, consumers cannot wait for electricity, electricity supply must wait for its customers. Just like hotels, you can't have customers waiting for your rooms, the rooms must be there.

"So, we must always be ahead. So there was very little or no brown out, no power shutdown or anything of that kind. So we must always be ahead and with a little bit of reserve. So it is not building a power station alone. The other major task was to be able to transmit all these power to various parts of the island. And that's also, transmission cost is also quite expensive, and we have adopted a system where all cables major would be underground. You'd notice that in Singapore we don't have pylons and overhead cables, because of two reasons. One, they are very unsightly; two is safety….

“the most important thing is, we are able to meet the deadline. Our deadline in the sense that we are able to provide power, adequate power. There was no shortage of power from the '70s all the way until now. We never had shortage of supply."

Page 102, para 1, line 16: Ministry of National Development Planning Department, Master Plan First Review 1965 Report of Survey, pp. 65-66.

Page 104, para 1, line 11: Ibid., pp. 66-67.


Welcome to Singapore

Page 106, para 2: Quote extracted from Oral History Centre's interview with Dr Albert Winsemius in 1982, Accession number 000246, reel 10.


The Making of an International Financial Hub

Page 108, para 1: Quote extracted from "Annual Budget Statement" by Minister for Finance, Lim Kim San, Parliamentary Debates - Republic of Singapore: Official Report, First Session of the First Parliament, Part I of First Session, Vol. 24, 13 December 1965.

Page 108, para 2, line 15: Monetary Authority of Singapore, Economics Department, Financial & Special Studies Division. "A Survey of Singapore's Monetary History," Occasional Paper No. 18, January 2000, p. 19. Available at
http://www.mas.gov.sg/About-MAS/Monographs-and-information-papers/Staff-Papers/2000/MAS-Occasional-Paper-No--18--Jan-2000.aspx

Page 109, para 1, line 11: Extracted from Oral History Centre's interview with Dr Albert Winsemius in 1982, Accession number 000246, reel 12.

Page 109, para 1, line 18: Lianhe Zaobao, 31 August 2007, p. 25.


Box Story: POSB - The People's Bank

Page 110, para 2, line 2: POSB Annual Report 1969, p. 1.

Page 110, para 2, line 7: Ibid. The savings competition was held in all Government and Government-aided schools in Singapore and a gift of $5 was given to all Secondary One students who had a minimum amount of $5 in their POSB accounts. Extracted from Consultation Research Bureau, The Post Office Savings Bank of Singapore: Your National Savings Bank - 100 Years (Singapore: The Post Office Savings Bank), p. 20; and You Poh Seng and Lim Chong Yah, The Singapore Economy (Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 1971), p. 148

Page 110, para 3, line 6

Post Office Savings Bank Chairman (1972-86) Tan Chok Kian, explained the significance of the computerisation of POSB, in his oral history interview, Accession number 001400, reel 6:

"Post Office Savings Bank also was the first [bank] to computerise its accounts. Without computerisation, it would not have been possible to meet the volumes of transactions. The computerisation enabled the depositor to open account in anyone of our branches and to withdraw its account from any other of the branches. It was what we called the on-line real time. When you put in one branch, it is instantly on-line updated. You can next minute go to another branch in another part of the island and you'll find that your account is already updated and you can withdraw whatever money you wish.

"And with the computerisation, all this was done in a matter of minutes. Whereas I think at that time, to present a cheque to a commercial bank for cash withdrawal, you still have to put your cheque, get a number or something, go to the comer somewhere there and sit down and wait.... The teller will, I think, then call your number or something. And some of the even more outdated branches would even say, "What's your name? How much?" before they would hand out the money to you.

"So Post Office Savings Bank set the lead in computerisation. Apart from achieving this mobilisation savings, I think we have also done a good service to the banking sector by pushing them into computerisation. At the same time also, around I think late Seventies, Post Office Savings Bank was the first to introduce ATM (Automated Teller Machine). You didn't even have to have a branch. Just at the street comer there, have a little space, install a machine and it's a 24-hour service, anytime of the day. With your [ATM card] you go there, you get whatever money you need, of course subject to certain limits."

Page 110, para 3, line 6: POSB Annual Report 1971, p. 8.

Page 110, para 3, line 9: POSB Annual Report 1975, p. 2.

Page 110, para 4, line 7: POSB Annual Report 1974, pp. 8, 13.

Page 110, para 5, line 5: POSB Annual Report 1976, p. 28.

 

 
 

 

  Last Updated on 06 July 2010  

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