Did you know that the Ministry of Culture organised the first outdoor concert as early as 1959? In addition, film shows were screened free of charge at open-air venues in various parts of Singapore. Find out why and how the Ministry organised these events.
What are national celebratory activities without flags, buntings, banners? In all, 900 full-sized flags, 5,000 printed cloth flags (small), 1,000 banners, 550 shields with the design of the crest, and 2,000 yards of material for buntings festooned the island. The cost for all these, including production, lighting installation and manpower, amounted to $82,000 .
As part of the National Loyalty Week (NLW), the Government staged a week-long exhibition, "People's Government at Work" . The Exhibition was just one of the activities organised to celebrate NLW and the installation of the first Malayan Head of State (Yang di-Pertaun Negara) on 3 December 1959. Other activities included a march past and a float procession. The Ministry also scheduled activities for the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and all the other ministers to participate during the NLW .
One of the publicity and fund-raising efforts for the National Theatre Fund involved the sale of National Loyalty Week Souvenir Cards on 5 December 1959, sold at 10 cents apiece. 1,000 Girl Guides and Scouts were mobilised for the public sale and as no banking services were available over the weekend, the sealed collection tins were kept at the Central Police Station until the following Monday when they would be sent to OCBC Bank for the donations to be counted and banked .
The 1960 National Day (ND) was Singapore's first large-scale ND celebrations. Treasury and Ministry of Culture (MC) had to work together to resolve the various issues of funding for the publicity and public education programmes, such as budget allocation, crediting of revenue, creation of new ND celebrations vote for future funding, etc. .
The celebratory activities included a mass rally and a march past. Guests from Malaya, Brunei, Borneo and Sarawak were invited as official guests to witness the events and the reception hosted by Yang di-Pertuan Negara. A mass tattoo, carnival, trade fair and concerts drew enthusiastic public response.
National Day decorations and celebratory activities were closely reviewed by ministers to ensure that money was well-spent . For instance, the Finance Minister set up a Committee of Ministers and officials to review the celebrations.
The Committee, comprising the Ministers for Culture, Finance, Education, National Development and representatives from Ministry of Culture and Public Works Department, met on 14 April 1961, where it was agreed that all ND celebrations should be more widely held to reach the people, particularly those living in the more heavily populated and poorer areas .
In planning the activities for the 1962 National Day Celebrations, Ministry of Culture proposed that the activities planned should help develop a Malayan ethos, and encourage communal organisations to play down communal elements and work towards Malayan culture . The theme selected was "Inter-racial Harmony and Unity".
For the first time in Singapore, an Aneka Ragam concert - held at the Padang as part of the National Day celebrations - was beamed live to the Victoria Memorial Hall, enabling more people to watch the show simultaneously .
Within three years of self-government, Singapore had made notable progress, particularly in housing, infrastructure, industrialisation and health. Many companies set up factories in Singapore offering employment opportunities to the people. A report (June 1961 to June 1962), produced by the Ministry of Culture for the 1962 National Day Celebrations showed that 24 industries, including Shell Refinery took up the offer of Pioneer Status and opened in Singapore . The HDB had completed 7,320 housing units, and by end of 1962 planned to increase it by another 13,000 units, making quality housing available to more people . In preventive health care, the fight against killer diseases of the time was stepped up: 120,000 children were protected against polio; in 1962, compulsory diphtheria immunisation for children was introduced; and in the fight against tuberculosis, mass x-rays were conducted for residents, secondary school leavers, and compulsory immunisation introduced for all new-born babies .
Were the National Day celebrations in the early 1960s different from present celebrations? Who participated in the march pasts and what preparations did Ministry of Culture make to publicise the activities to the people ? One major difference – in those days, the parade took place in the morning . Read about the activities and participating organisations and their proposed National Day celebration activities.