Tourism promotion and development of related activities was among the various portfolios under Ministry of Culture (MC) purview in the 1950s.
The portfolio was transferred to the Ministry of Finance, Division of Commerce and Industry (DCI) in 1957 . In 1959, the tourism portfolio was transferred back to MC, which then set out in earnest to look into activities to promote Singapore . MC officers proposed to their Minister that Government take the lead and MC continue to build on its earlier efforts, such as co-operation with, and participation in regional and local, travel associated activities eg with PATA (Pacific Area Travel Association), Singapore Travel Agents Association. It was also pointed out that government needed to impress upon the private sector organisations that they too had a role in promoting tourism. However faced with financial challenges, overseas publicity was scaled down . The file contents provide an insight into MC's concerns about tourism and efforts to develop activities to enhance tourism in Singapore, and the working relationship between Malaya and Singapore in promoting tourism.
Minutes of meetings of Sports Subcommittee - on organising sports events to attract tourists to Singapore during Orient Year 1961. Some activities suggested included the organisation of a Grand Prix; capitalising on the visit of the Harlem GlobeTrotters who were scheduled to visit Singapore from 8-10 Jan, and even a Gymkhana Meet . Also includes the Notes of the Liaison Working Committee recording the decision for the Grand Prix to be held at the Thomson circuit and its preparations . The circuit was decided on, after much discussion on fire risks, accessibility, inconvenience to the service families living in the area, insurance and compensation, and also consultation with the police.
When the Orient Year Grand Prix was introduced in 1961, it was positioned as a novel event to attract tourists. Identifying a suitable circuit was a key challenge . Designed as a self-supporting initiative, it was co-organised by the Singapore Motor Club (SMC) and the Ministry of Culture (MC) with support from other government agencies. Proceeds of ticket sales went to the Orient Year Fund . The main challenge was to select an appropriate circuit in which even Minister for Culture, Mr Rajaratnam, was involved. Following evaluation of various places, the Upper Thomson Rd, Sembawang Hill Circus, Old Thomson Road to Rifle Range Road route was selected as the race circuit.
Booty Advertising Ltd, a leading agency of the period, was appointed concessionaire to organise the Grand Prix (GP) . As part of the pre-race publicity, Booty organised a vintage car parade with top models of the time gracing the event.
Government agencies provided ground and support services such as infrastructure, medical and security services.
In a Government press release after the GP, the Minister for Culture thanked all parties involved for their hard work and contributions towards making the GP a great success .
File's contents are on two main areas - the first on the preparations, and the other on the finances.
1) The Notes of Meeting of the Working Committees, recorded in detail, the responsibilities of the government agencies to provide the ground services - infrastructure, medical, security services, publicity, addressing residents' concerns; while SMC liaised with private sector organisations eg the airlines for sponsorship and took care of the insurance liability.
2) The first main concern was identifying a suitable circuit - after recees and liaison with agencies like PWD and the Military Forces, it was eventually agreed that the circuit would cover Upper Thomson Rd, Sembawang Hill Circus, Old Thomson Rd to Rifle Range Rd.
3) Booty Advertising Ltd was appointed concessionaire to organise the GP. Booty would undertake to supply all facilities and receive 15% commission on gross receipts of income.
4) Feedback reports from agencies.
1) While approval was sought to waive costs eg for police force, entertainment duty, etc, medical cost incurred (in terms of medical supplies) was billed to MC which was initially not prepared to pay, but the issue was finally resolved.
2) Profit from GP - Booty Advertising Ltd was to credit the revenue of $6k+ to Government but this was only done so in 1966, after Solicitor-General's mediation. Booty's banker had held the money in trust for Booty when the owner of Booty left Singapore. As the cheque to Government was not properly endorsed, the bank asked for a letter of indemnity to be issued by MC or SMC (two of the cheque signatories). But neither party was prepared to do so, until Solicitor-General resolved the matter by getting the cheque re-issued and re-counter signed by SMC. The subject was finally closed on 14 Oct 1966 with a memo from the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture PS(MC) to Solicitor-General confirming that the ministry had been paid the amount in question .
Following the success of the Orient Year Grand Prix, the Ministry of Culture decided to make the race an annual event as part of tourism-related activities. In keeping with the times, the budget and expenditure for the event were tightly monitored and audited closely . Audit even tracked the non-payment of a telephone bill till it was settled - almost a year later .
Following the inauguration of Malaysia, the third Grand Prix was renamed Malaysia Grand Prix. The race continued to be co-organised with the Singapore Motor Club (SMC) at the Upper Thomson Road Circuit. Ministry of Culture (MC) budgeted $70K with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture PS(MC) chairing the Government Liaison Committee, and oversaw ground preparation and the supply of infrastructure and various services, including public outreach. SMC handled overseas publicity, liaison, with its overseas counterparts and race participation . While the SMC was handling overseas publicity/participation, MC was tasked with the ground preparations for the Grand Prix (GP). The PS(MC) chaired the Government Liaison Committee. The MC liaised with government agencies to supply various services for the GP-medical and public health services; securing the GP circuit; infrastructure like improvement to circuit, supply of electricity, and construction of grandstands etc; and other areas, like security arrangements, ticketing, publicity (over TV, radio and poster advertising).
Contents on funding for the 1963 Malaysia Grand Prix. Ministry of Culture (MC) sourced for sponsorship in cash and kind from the private sector. Sponsorship in kind included free drinks, cigarettes, setting up of TV in public areas . Another area of sponsorship was advertising, at the circuit and in the 74-page souvenir publication . As for publicity, three newspapers (Malayan Times, New Life Daily News, and Sin Chew) agreed to produce supplements. Almost one-third of the contents in the file relate to the souvenir publication - letters to prospective advertisers and subsequent liaison with advertisers over their advertisements.
The Grand Prix Liaison Committee held extensive meetings with agency representatives to plan and execute the event. Detailed minutes in the file provide a slice of the considerations of the times and the extensive detailed planning considerations.
Planning for the 1963 Malaysia Grand Prix (12-15 Apr 63) started in early Dec 1962. The Liaison Committee met and fleshed out the preparations for the event, designated the areas of responsibilities for the various agencies, like highway authority clearance, preparation of the circuit, traffic arrangements, ticketing, medical and security arrangements etc, and publicity in the press, Radio and TV. For example, the Work Brigade was largely responsible for preparatory work on the circuit and surrounding grounds, eg, securing the area with barb wire, clearing the plant growth, constructing calverts, provision of lavatories . Additionally, 1,000 men would be sent to work on the grounds on the race days.
For the first time, there would be TV coverage (whole day Outside Broadcast) . TV was introduced in Singapore, in early 1963. A 30-feet TV tower with 3 cameras, was erected at "Peak Bend" .
For the 1965 Malaysia Grand Prix (GP), the Treasury approved a budget of $100K. The GP continued to be co-organised by the Ministry of Culture (MC) and the Singapore Motor Club. Based on previous experiences, the racing circuit which remained as the Thomson Circuit , was improved and modified . The GP was a ticketed event, but members of the public managed to capture the excitement by sitting on the slopes flanking certain stretches of the road and in the process causing some damage to the ground, which had to be attended to by the MC. Like previous GPs, Joan Booty's agency provided glamour for the event with her models, clad in national costumes, parading in a motorcade procession round certain sections of the circuit.
Contents relate to the ground preparations for the 1965 Malaysia GP spearheaded by MC. The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture PS(MC), as Chairman (GP Committee), was actively overseeing and liaising with private sector and government agencies - Singapore Motor Club (co-organiser of the GP), PWD, (for improvements to the racing circuit) and O' Connors (for communications equipment). Other preparations included publicity, fire precautions, security, ticketing, transport, medical and public health cleansing arrangements (eg., clearing rubbish). After the GP, MC undertook repairs to damage caused to school premises used for the GP and gathered feedback for a post-mortem. Even as MC organised the 1965 GP, it had been decided that future GPs would be organised by the Ministry of Social Affairs. Treasury was informed accordingly by PS(MC), on 22 February .
A 76-page Grand Prix (GP) Programme was produced for the 1965 Malaysia GP. Bridgestone, Thong Sia, Horlicks, Fraser & Neave and car firms were among the firms that took up advertisements.
Contents solely on contracts and payment by advertisers for taking advertising space in the 1965 GP Programme - "Malaysia Grand Prix 1965 Programme". Altogether 76 pages, excluding the front and back covers were taken up. The preparatory work was done by the Broadcasting Division.
In 1966, the organisation of the Grand Prix (GP) was handed over to Ministry of Social Affairs (MSA) .
To ensure a smooth handover, the Ministry of Culture (MC) shared its experience and learning points. The MC continued to take charge of publicity and press liaison on the ground. MSA also announced in a press statement that from 1966 the GP would be called "Singapore Grand Prix, 1966" (it was earlier known as Malaysia GP). The status of the GP for motor-cars was raised to international standards. The prize money was also raised.
Further details of handover from MC to MSA and MSA's follow up on organising the GP. MC extended help to MSA eg like compiling information on sponsorship and expenditure for the earlier GPs, feedback on the 1965 GP, transfer of files, etc. Other contents include Notes of Meeting chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Social Affairs PS(MSA) on the roles and responsibilities of agencies for 1966 GP, correspondence with the agencies, post GP Evaluation report. MC was in charge of publicity and press liaison on the ground.