Singapore

A walk down memory lane: Singapore in the 60s and 70s

How did Singapore go from third world to first? 

Because of the spirit of our leaders and the pioneer generation and the foundations they laid for future generations. 

In his National Day Message for the nation's jubilee broadcast today (Aug 8), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong celebrated the city-state's achievements with a walk down memory lane. 

 

 

Here, we present the milestones and monuments highlighted by Mr Lee:

NATIONAL SERVICE

The front page of The Straits Times on March 29, 1967. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES

"Let us celebrate 50 years of peace and security, underwritten by the blood and sweat of generations of NSmen."

Even before the British started withdrawing their forces from the region in the late 1960s, Singapore had started raising a defence force of volunteers.

The National Service (Amendment) Bill was passed in 1967, with a first batch of about 9,000, though only 900 served as full-time NSmen, while the others served part-time in the People's Defence Force, the Vigilante Corps and the Special Constabulary. 

BEST IN THE WORLD

A crane at the Port of Singapore Authority in 1972. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES

"Let us celebrate how we turned vulnerabilities into strengths. How a struggling economy with no domestic market made the world our market and created jobs for our people. How without any domestic hinterland, we made PSA and Changi Airport the best in the world."

This year, Singapore's port was voted best in Asia for the 27th time, and Changi Airport was named the world's best airport by the World Airport Awards. 

The control tower at Changi Airport under construction in 1980. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES

EDUCATION

Six-year-olds on their first day of school in the 1970s. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES

"...while we had no natural resources, we educated every Singaporean and created opportunities for their talents to thrive. We have proven that together, we are greater than the sum of our parts."

HOUSING

The Tanglin Halt housing estate in 1967. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES

"We are a nation of home owners ..."

That is thanks to the efforts of the Housing Development Board (HDB) which was set up in 1960. 

The first town to be built solely by the HDB was Toa Payoh, which used to be a squatter district. 

Today, over 80 per cent of Singaporeans live in HDB flats. 

VICTORIA CONCERT HALL

"It was here that Mr Lee Kuan Yew launched the People's Action Party, and inaugurated the long struggle for a fair and just society. It was here in 1958 that Majulah Singapura was first performed."

The National Day Message was recorded at Victoria Concert Hall, a place, said Mr Lee, that holds special significance in Singapore's history. 

In the 1950s, when it was still called the Victoria Memorial Hall, it was the location for a number of momentous events, not least of which was the performance of the national anthem Majulah Singapura in 1958, during the official opening of the renovated theatre. 

Mr Lee also noted that it was where his father, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, launched the People's Action Party on Nov 21, 1954 (below).  

PHOTO: NATIONAL ARCHIVES SINGAPORE

Pick up The New Paper on Aug 9 for a 50-year flashback in our special National Day edition. 

We'll also be giving free digital access cards on Aug 9 to read the paper for free. Click here for details

national dayLee Hsien Loong