Welcome to the Singapore Policy History Project. We present the policy paths taken by government agencies throughout our history, in thematic collections of government archives. These archives exist in all formats - documents, photos, audio-visual recordings, oral histories, newspapers - and tell a rich and fascinating story of Singapore's history and development. We hope that this will give all Singaporeans, especially our younger generations, a deeper understanding of how our nation has come so far to where it is today. Enjoy your journey through the archives!
Books and newspapers are such fragile things - printed on paper, they tear readily, disintegrate easily and before you know it, they are gone. This creates a problem for libraries. So how did the National Library (NL) tackle the challenge of preservation? They took pictures of the collections! ... [more]
Singapore as a nation progressed from third to first world in a short time. The government progressively expanded public assistance to provide multiple layers of social support in areas such as education, employment, healthcare, housing, and retirement needs. ComCare, a key pillar of the social safety net, provides social assistance to families who need additional help. But social assistance started with simple public assistance immediately after the war... [more]
When the Raffles Library became the Raffles National Library in 1958, there was much work to be done. The once elite and colonial institution was now meant for a wider public, but who decides what books a library needs and how to get them? The staff of our budding Library did not hesitate to reach out to others for help... [more]
Following the end of World War II until 1975, Singapore evolved from a trading post to a regional manufacturing base. To achieve this, the government had to quickly put in place reliable and efficient telecommunication services to support the demand for fixed and mobile telecommunications. This enabled multinational corporations to use Singapore as a manufacturing base and a transhipment hub. This was not an isolated development. It was an integral cog in the wider scheme of transforming Singapore into a global city. Our pioneer leaders had the foresight and vision to recognise the need to connect Singapore to the world, to make Singapore relevant to the rest of the world. Telecommunications is but one element of the process. It played an important part in the development of the nation. In response to the fast-growing and fast-changing telecommunications industry and to meet the challenges in the years ahead, the then Telecommunications Department was converted into a statutory board and renamed the Telecommunication Authority of Singapore (TAS) on 1 April 1972 ... [more]
On 3 June 1959, the 1.6 million people in Singapore awoke to a new beginning - as people of a fully internal self-governing city-state under the British Crown. Many were immigrants and had no deep-rooted ties to Singapore. The new government thus needed to encourage them to establish roots in Singapore, and to foster a sense of pride, loyalty and national identity... [more]
Since the 1960s, Singapore was determined to improve the quality of life through national campaigns. Each campaign was an integrated approach to change personal habits and attitudes towards the environment, personal health, water conservation, productivity, industrial and road safety, and many aspects of life. Broadcasting played a pivotal role in transforming Singapore into a Clean and Green Singapore by creating awareness, influencing behaviour and promoting one of Singapore’s earliest national campaigns… [more]
How did people find out any information or fact before the internet? Why, they would come in person, to the National Library's Reference Section. In the early 1960s, National Library counter staff would help tease the answer out of volumes of encyclopaedia , reference books, atlases, and other reference materials. Sometimes this involved reaching out to government agencies, and occasionally the answer was not available. The queries not only came from members of the public of all ages, but also public agencies and private organizations. ... [more]
Today, there are over 1,300 childcare centres in Singapore. The Child Welfare Society started with just two crèches to help low-income mothers care for and feed their children... [more]
Following independence in 1965, the PAP Government inherited the full panoply of laws, institutions, structures and processes in place for governance established by the British who had ruled Singapore for well over 140 years, with a brief interregnum only under the command of the Japanese Imperial Army in the 1940s. One area of importance was the management of the media environment... [more]
The National Library (NL) has been fighting the "battle for men's minds" since pre-independent Singapore. The battle began with the challenge to fulfil the vision of our forefathers - to provide access to knowledge, thereby equipping Singaporeans to take the country forward... [more]
Before there were food trucks, there were book trucks, bringing food for thought to the people! In the 1960s, there was only one main library, the Central Library at Stamford Road which was fast becoming overcrowded, with a junior membership multiplying tenfold from three thousand to over thirty thousand... [more]
Media regulators in the 1950s and 1960s devoted much time and resources to keeping Communist propaganda at bay through the regulation of media content - as revealed from files in the Singapore Policy History Project (SPHP)... [more]
The information and communications technology (ICT) sector is a key contributor to Singapore's economic success. We did not get to where we are today by accident. It was the foresight and vision of our founding leaders that transformed Singapore from a fishing village to a global city.
During colonial times, Singapore's economy was centred on entrepôt trade. This offered little prospect for growth. The withdrawal of the British forces in 1971 challenged the Government to devise concrete plans to cope with the economic impact of the withdrawal. Our leaders recognised that without a hinterland, Singapore had to go global. This was achieved through the development of a robust and reliable infrastructure that would convince multinational corporations to use Singapore as a manufacturing base and, years later, as a regional or international headquarters... [more]
Today, the Singapore Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit is a world away from its humble beginnings in the early 1960s. The Grand Prix was part of an effort to put Singapore firmly on the tourist map... [more]