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Sep 20, 2014

Sir Harold Wilson Visit Jurong Industrial Estate in 1978


Former British Prime Minister Sir Harold Wilson (right) being briefed by Managing Director of Beecham Pharmaceuticals Private Limited R P Allen (third from right) during his visit to the factory at Quality Road, Jurong Industrial Estate. Sir Wilson and Lady Wilson were on a five-day visit to Singapore at the invitation of PM Lee Kuan Yew.


Sir Harold Wilson being welcomed by Managing Director of Beecham Pharmaceuticals Private Limited R P Allen upon his arrival at the factory in Quality Road, Jurong Industrial Estate for a visit on January 10, 1978.


Sir Harold Wilson being briefed by Managing Director of Beecham Pharmaceuticals Private Limited R P Allen during his visit to the factory at Quality Road, Jurong Industrial Estate.

Visit to Crown Cork at Boon Lay Road, Jurong Industrial Estate

Director and General Manager of Crown Cork, Graham Bell briefed Sir Harold Wilson on factory activities during Sir Wilson's tour of the factory at New Boon Lay Road.  Crown Cork is a British-based industry.


In the early 1900s, Jurong was uncharted territory, mainly dominated by swamps with low hills covered by shrubs and a thick jungle. The word jurong (jurung in current Indonesian spelling) refers to the elevated porch of a traditional house. Thus considering the area's many small hills in a swamp, Jurong may refer to these small elevated lands in the swamp. In 1929, Jurong Road was extended to Bukit Timah, connecting it to the rest of Singapore Town. Jurong remained a sleepy rural area until 1959, when Singapore became a self-governing colony.

The government saw industrialization as a solution to the country's economic problems and Jurong was picked as a prime area for development. Jurong's coastal waters were deep, making it suitable for a port; the land was mostly state-owned; and landfill was readily available from the area's many hills.  In the 1950s, it was developed into an industrial estate, supported by low-cost housing. Amenities such as government dispensaries, a private hospital, creches, hawker centres and banks were built in the 1970s during efforts to develop Singapore economically.

From entrepot trade to industrialization in Singapore

For over a century, entrepot trade was the most important force in Singapore's economy.  As a commercial center for import and export, it provided thousands of jobs.  This trade also helped Singapore grow from a fishing village into a modern city-state.

Singapore's geographical position made it an ideal collecting and distribution center for the region.  From spices in the early days, the trade shifted to sugar, coffee, and copra (dried coconut kernals).  Later, there was tin, rubber, crude oil, and manufactured goods from the East.

Today, Singapore trades with almost all nations in the world.  Its main trading partners are Malaysia, Japan, the United States, Saudi Arabi, and the European Union.  The countries make up about two-thirds of the island's total trade.  Crude oil, electronic parts, iron and steel, and aircraft and ships are imported into Singapore.  The island's main exports include petroleum products, machinery and equipment, electronic products and crude rubber.

No country, however, can depend on trade alone. It has to develop in other directions as well. Over the years, the other ports in the region had been offering stiffer competition for the trade in the area. And, with declining trade, Singapore had to make other plans.

The population in Singapore had also increased rapidly.  The increase, especially in the years after the Second World War, was a world record!  As a result, besides housing, education, better health and medical services for the people, more jobs were urgently needed.  Since agriculture was out of the question because of the shortage of land, and it was not possible to expand the entrepot trade, attention was directed toward industrialization instead.

Before 1961, industry in Singapore was limited to  the processing of rubber and copra, tin smelting, and the refining of vegetable and coconut oils.  Other light industries included the manufacture of furniture, footwear, clothers, food and bottled drinks for the home market.

The industrialization program was introduced in the early 1960s.  The government spent millions of dollars to turn Jurong - a swamp in the south-western part of the island - into an industrial area. Hills were leveled, swamps filled, and roads and factories built. This was followed up by the construction of high-rise homes for the workers and their families. Markets, schools, landscaped parks, and other recreational facilities were also provided.

Industries set up in the area included shipbuilding and repairing yards, car assembly plants, and petroleum refineries as well as factories producing everything from plywood, plastics, ceramics, steel tubes, and tires to electrical and electronic goods.

Many conditions were just right for the new industrialization in the 60s. Communications facilities were well-developed. So was the water and electricity supply. The port, banks, and other services were all ready to serve the needs of the manufacturing industries. Singapore also had a stable government and a large pool of skilled labor.

As a result, many local and foreign investors set up industries in Singapore.  They were given every encouragement, including attractive tax incentives.  The industrial drive was so successful that manufacturing became a major contributor to Singapore's economy. For the first time in history, Singapore was not longer totally dependent on entrepot trade.

When there was not enough land available in Jurong for more factories, smaller industrial estates were started in different parts of the island. Today, Singapore has 30 industrial estates of which Jurong is the largest. All are managed by the Jurong Town Corporation, which was set up in 1968. There are altogether slightly less than 5,00 companies.

Visit to Jurong Town Corporation (JTC)

Sir Harold Wilson briefed the development of Jurong town centre with maps and models during his visit to Jurong Town Corporation (JTC).


With full employment achieved in the early 1970s, Singapore has turned its attention to higher technology industries.  It is also moved toward mechanization, computerization, and the increasing use of industrial robots.  Next to Japan, Singapore is Southeast Asia's second largest use of robots in factories.

The very success of Singapore's industrialization program has also led to its growth in trade, port services, transportation, and communications, banking and finance, and construction and tourism.

[Source:  Major World  Nations - Singapore by Jessie Wee]

The Case of the Economics Development Board

Singapore is today ranked among the world’s strongest and most competitive economies. Forty years ago, it had a very different economy. It was beset with acute housing shortage and severe unemployment. The Economic Development Board (EDB) has played a key role in developing Singapore’s economy, creating wealth and jobs for the population. Established since 1960, the EDB is Singapore’s one-stop and lead government agency for planning and executing economic strategies to enhance Singapore's position as a global hub for business and investment. The EDB seeks to facilitate and support both local and foreign investors in manufacturing and services sectors to develop and expand new business opportunities, especially capital-intensive, knowledge-intensive and innovation-intensive activities.

Singapore is today ranked among the world’s strongest and most competitive economies. Forty years ago, it had a very different economy. It was beset with acute housing shortage and severe unemployment. The Economic Development Board (EDB) has played a key role in developing Singapore’s economy, creating wealth and jobs for the population.

Established since 1960, the EDB is Singapore’s one-stop and lead government agency for planning and executing economic strategies to enhance Singapore's position as a global hub for business and investment. The EDB seeks to facilitate and support both local and foreign investors in manufacturing and services sectors to develop and expand new business opportunities, especially capital-intensive, knowledge-intensive and innovation-intensive activities.

The EDB, in promoting Singapore, markets Singapore as a Total Business Centre, the location to ‘begin your journey in Asia’. There are marketing brochures explaining ‘why Singapore’.  Investment promotion is not just to corporations but also extends to individuals, and is worldwide. Recognizing that investors are not homogenous, the EDB now provides an extensive range of focused programs, policies and schemes to attract three groups: investors, startups and individuals, to Singapore.

Singapore has made remarkable economic progress since the early 1960s. To a large extent, the EDB has been effective in promoting investment . It has created a whole new industrial economy.

There are more than 7,000 MNCs in Singapore; about half of these have regional operations. The MNCs are carefully selected to ‘fit’ the target sectors and/or specific manufacturing process chain spectrum. To remain robust, Singapore's economic structure has diversified; startups and SMEs are increasingly featured in economic development. Strong manufacturing and services sectors have become the twin pillars of the economy. There is a wide range of businesses, particularly in the higher value-adding activities. With the help of the EDB, other government support agencies and fiscal incentives, industries have automated, mechanized
and restructured their activities to stay competitive.

Moving forward, the EDB has charted several strategies to realize its vision of Singapore as a premier hub for value-creating investments: strengthen industry clusters, identify and grow new clusters, nurture innovation-driven enterprises, develop new geographies, and make Singapore’s environment conducive and competitive for global business. A number of factors can perhaps be discerned as having contributed to EDB’s pivotal role in Singapore’s economic growth. The first is clear and strong government support that is
translated into the operating institutional framework—a one-stop, pro-business quasi-public agency, with resources for implementation.

The second is the EDB philosophy of ‘committed to deliver, courage to dream and bold in design’, which has resulted in a carefully crafted economic development program. The third is the capacity to change, to stay ahead of world trends, innovate and make quick adjustments to meet changing times. Such legerity is crucial to staying competitive. The Singapore EDB experience is a reassertion of other aspects of  Singapore’s post-independence development that provides one model of how given the appropriate operational environment, concepts can be translated into practical programs and implemented to achieve the desired results.

Source: Economic Development Board 

Note:  A series of these archived photos and descriptions are curated on the nostalgic blogs to share with our heritage friends.  These personal blogs to express for non-commercial and not for profit purposes; and credit with acknowledgement and thanks to the National Archives of Singapore.   Thank you.

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Sep 15, 2014

Sentosa: A Journey Through History

Sir Harold Wilson (second from right) viewing the exhibits at the Sentosa Wax Museum during his visit to Sentosa island on 11 January, 1978.  His first visit to Sentosa during a five-day programme-filled visit to Singapore as personal guests of Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

The British Surrender Chamber and the Japanese Surrender Chamber were located at the double-storey former British Army barracks at Carlton Hill, near the Sentosa cable car  terminal.

The Surrender Chamber's $400,000 waxworks and photo display of the Japanese rule of Singapore in the second World War attracts many tourists, including the Japanese.

The Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) added a new feature to its present Surrender Chamber to provide visitors a  better perspective of the historical events that took place during the Japan's Malayan Campaign.

The SDC embarked on a project to re-enact another equally historic moment for Singapore - surrender of the British forces to the invading Japanese Army on Feb 12, 1942.  A display of wax figures similar to those depicting the Japanese surrender at the chamber.

The walk-in concept to give visitors a better and closer view of the wax figures and also enable them to take pictures.  (Source:  Business Times, Mar 22, 1980).

In the above photo, Sir Harold Wilson was standing beside the wax figure of Sir Ronald Brockman in the Japanese surrender chamber.
 
Sir Harold Wilson alighting from the cable car at World Trade Centre after touring Sentosa island.  The archived photos curated on this blog with the courtesy and acknowledgement of the National Archives of Singapore.

Sir Ronald recalls historic surrender scene in City Hall


(Source:  The Straits Times,  9 February, 1975)

Memories of the Japanese Surrender in Singapore 30 years ago came flashing back to a former captain in the British armed forces as he recounted details of the historic ceremony in which he took part.

For Sir Ronald Brockman, 66, now a retired Vice-Admiral.  September 12, 1945, was a memorable day as he was the surrender document officer for the Allied Forces at the ceremony, held in City Hall chamber.

He recalled that thousands of people had gathered on the Padang that cool early morning to watch the Union Jack being hoisted and unfurled after three-and-a-half years of Japanese occupation in Singapore.

It was the end of the Japanese domination of Asia.  As the people stood in silence, a bugle sounded, followed by the British national anthem.

Said Sir Ronald in an interview:

The scene on the Padang that morning was indeed moving.

I could see Lord Louis Mountbatten (Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in South-east Asia) standing on the City Hall steps saluting the soldiers of the Allied forces representing the various Allied countries.

Moments later came the rumbling sound of the 'mosquito bombers'.  It was a thrill to watch them fly past City  Hall.

After that we were informed that the Japanese were ready to sign the surrender documents.

Led by Lord Mountbatten, we moved into the chamber.  From every pillar hung the flag of the countries making up the Allied forces and standing below them were representatives of these countries.

Two tables facing each other were placed in the centre of the room.  Lord Mountbatten and the Allied Commanders took their seats on one of the tables.

Minutes later, silence fell over the chamber when it was announced that the Japanese were coming in.

There were seven of them and they walked into the chamber in single file, each flanked by Allied escorts.

Funny thing, most of the Japanese commanders were bald as if they had just shaved their heads.  Three of them were wearing horn-rimmed glasses.

They bowed and took their seats opposite the Allied commanders.  Their faces showed no emotion and they were looking straight ahead as if staring into blank space.

Sir Ronald said it was slightly past 11 a.m. and Lord Mountbatten, holding a document, stood up and said something like ... "this is a surrender instrument ..."

Gen. Susheiro Itagaki, Commander of the Japanese forces stationed here, was to sign the surrender document on behalf of Field Marshal Count Juichi Terauchi, the Supreme Commander of Japanese forces in Asia who was ill in Saigon.

Count Terauchi, he said, later handed over his sword to Lord Mountbatten in a simple but formal ceremony at Saigon.

Sir Ronald said the surrender ceremony at City Hall chamber lasted less than 15 minutes and after Gen. Itagaki had put his and the Emperor's seals on the document, the Japanese bowed and were ushered out under escort.

He said:  "While the various Commanders were signing the document, I sensed a feeling of relief inside the room.  Everyone was glad that the war was over.  Six years in Asia was a long time."

Sir Ronald said the British, however, encountered mounting problems after the war.  They included getting Allied prisoners-of-war out of Japanese jails, getting rice from Thailand and setting up a Civil Government in Malaya.

But he did not encounter any problem during the surrender ceremony", he said.

When Gen. Douglas MacArthur (Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Japan) received the order on the Japanese surrender at Tokyo Bay, every Japanese officer right down to the private, obeyed.

On taking over from the Japanese, everything was in chaos.

Fond memory

It was nine months later that the British Government sent some civil servants here to relieve us.  We returned to Britain and I continued with my naval duties."

Sir Ronald said he was satisfied with the waxworks done of himself and those who took part at the surrender ceremony because they captured the historic moment.  They were on display in the chamber.

More than 30 years have passed and I don't expect perfect duplicates of us.  I think they were done remarkably well", he added.
Sir Ronald, who is holidaying here and visiting his eldest son, Peter, said he first heard of the wax figures when Lord Mountbatten asked him to go to Madam Tussaud's in London to have his body measured.

Sir Ronald has settled down to a quiet life in a little English town in Devonshire.  He said he no longer travelled as much as he did when he was in the navy.

Sir Ronald said most of his friends and colleagues who fought together with him had died and this visit brought back fond memories of them.

[Obituary:  Vice-Admiral Sir Ronald Brockman died on 3 September, 1999 in Devonshire]

Courtesy of  The British Pathe News about the Japanese surrender, available on YouTube videos as mentioned in the previous blog.

Japanese Surrender And Local Shots (1945)

Order of the day - Mountbattens words to his men

SBC 1988 - Diary Of A Nation (Episode 25 - The Japanese Surrender)

Courtesy of the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation

The following book critic and comments may be outdated but were relevant at the times.


Courtesy of the NewspaperSG, National Library Board, Singapore
This is ideal quick-flip reading for the tourist who's interest in the bare bones of Singapore's history.

Meant both as a souvenir and guide when walking through Sentosa's Exhibition of Singapore Pioneers and the Surrender Chamber, tells simply the story of how people from far-off lands came to a land of promise, and how a war was won and lost.

With one in two pages coloured by glossy well-reproduced photographs of the pioneers, the booklet looks inviting.

It is like a time capsule of sorts - it tells of a time that seems to have no link with the present because it so neatly ends at the Japanese surrender of Singapore.

Which is fine on the one hand, since the book is meant as a guide to the exhibition, but not on the other, since the people behind it hope the book will sell as a souvenir on its own.

As a souvenir, it has nice pictures, but lacks meat.

The second section, a guide on Sentosa's Surrender Chamber, stops short in the same way.

The Malayan Campaign, the Battle of Singapore, the British surrender and the Japanese surrender - in less than five pages of text, the story of Japan's expansion in the region, its drive through Malaya, conquest of Singapore and final surrender to the British is told.

If you're wondering about life was like in Singapore under the Japanese rule, you won't find the answers here.

Sadly, the book in the end resembles the stiff tableaux that it describes.  Like each mannequin and scene that stands alone, so, too, each page of the booklet.

Little effort has been made to weave the strands of human life into a whole.  Singapore is 20 years away from the book.

And since it's recently published, some mention should have been made of the situation today - especially since this year marks the country's coming of age.

The book neither shows nor tells the reader how much Singapore's racial harmony has evolved through inter-marriage and circumstances since the tension of the 50s.

The absence of an introduction or foreword is a further setback, although a quotation from Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew helps set the tone:

"To understand the present and anticipate the future,
 one must know enough of the past, 
enough to have a  sense of the history of a people."

Former journalist of The Straits Times, Ms Violet Oon and now Singapore's Food Ambassador, had written a special feature article "Sentosa - from military backwater to fun and games amid the greenery" in "The Straits Times Annual for 1975" as excerpted to share her first experience about 28 years ago to Sentosa via cable car on this blog.  (Source:  The Straits Times Annual).  Posted on this blog here .

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Sep 14, 2014

Sir Harold Wilson Visit To Toa Payoh in 1978

Former British Prime Minister (PM) Sir Harold Wilson (second from right) accompanied by Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Housing and Development Board Liu Thai Ker (second from left) and officials touring Toa Payoh New Town on January 11, 1978.  Sir Harold Wilson and Lady Wilson were on a 5-day visit to Singapore at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Toa Payoh New Town, one of the earliest satellite public housing estate built by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in 1964.

Queen Elizabeth II visited Toa Payoh in 1972 and my blogger friend, Jerome Lim posted his "Psst ... guess who dropped in today?" blog here .  My personal blog "Queen Elizabeth's Royal Visit to Singapore" was posted here .


Sir Harold Wilson (right) with Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Housing and Development Board Liu Thai Ker during his visit to Toa Payoh New Town.

 
Sir Harold Wilson getting a bird's eye view of Toa Payoh New Town during his tour of the housing estate.


Sir Harold Wilson (front, left) accompanied by Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Housing and Development Board Liu Thai Ker (on Sir Wilson's left) walking through a department store in Toa Payoh Central during his tour of Toa Payoh New Town.

Sir Harold visiting a shop in Toa Payoh Central during his tour of Toa Payoh New Town.


At a textile store in Toa Payoh Central ...

 Walking past a furniture shop in Toa Payoh Central...
 

Walking past a textile and clothing store in Toa Payoh Central ...

 
At a souvenir a shop in Toa Payoh Central ...

Walking through a department store in Toa Payoh Central

Viewing items being sold during his walk through a department store in Toa Payoh Central 


Walking through the hawker centre in Toa Payoh Central ...

Did any nostalgia friends remember the VVIP visitors to Toa Payoh over 30 years ago?

Note:  A series of these archived photos and descriptions are curated on the nostalgic blogs to share with our heritage friends.  These personal blogs to express for non-commercial and not for profit purposes; and credit with acknowledgement and thanks to the National Archives of Singapore.  Appreciate to share Singapore collective memories of the 5-day visit of Sir Harold Wilson and Lady Wilson to Singapore from January 9 to January 13, 1978 at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.  Thank you.

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Tete-A-Tete Under A Bright Sun

Former British Prime Minister Sir Harold Wilson (Right) and Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew (Left) visit Sembawang Shipyard.  They enjoyed a "warm" tete-a-tete under a bright sun - a brief break in the current wet spell.

Abandoning previous plans to drive from the shipyard's main building to its newest drydock some 300 metres away, they took advantage of the sunshine, albeit a few minutes, and walked.

Managing Director of Sembawang Shipyard C N Watson (centre) welcoming Sir Harold Wilson and Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on January 12, 1978.

Prime Minister (PM) Lee Kuan Yew and former British PM Sir Harold Wilson being briefed by official during their visit to Sembawang Shipyard for a visit.


 

On arrival at the $50 million drydock, one of the largest in the world, Sir Harold and Mr Lee, accompanied by Mr C.N. Watson, managing director of the shipyard.  Watched a German tanker, Esso Gascogne, under repairs.

He also reminisced of the part Singapore had played in helping obtain compensation for the British Government from the ship's owners.

History of Sembawang Shipyard

Photo credit:  Sembawang Shipyard
Started as a British Naval Dockyard, Sembawang Shipyard was handed over by the British garrison to the Singapore government for a token fee of $1. With that, Sembawang Shipyard Pte Ltd was established on 19 June, 1968, ushering in a new chapter in commercial ship repair in the region.

The Beginning Virtual History Tour (60's & 70's) video to watch here .

The Beginning ; The Golden Era ; The Boom ; The Transformation  of Sembawang Shipyard's "Our Mission“ to be the best in ship repair and conversion, expanding regionally and into growth business.

Note:  A series of these archived photos and descriptions are curated on the nostalgic blogs to share with our heritage friends.  These personal blogs to express for non-commercial and not for profit purposes; and credit with acknowledgement and thanks to the National Archives of Singapore.  Appreciate to share Singapore collective memories of the 5-day visit of Sir Harold Wilson and Lady Wilson to Singapore from January 9 to January 13, 1978 at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.  Thank you.

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Sep 13, 2014

Memories of Singapore Waterfront in 1978


Former British Prime Minister (PM) Sir Harold Wilson (front) touring the Singapore waterfront on a motor launch on January 11, 1978.
 
Sir Harold Wilson (front row, left) arriving at the pier for a tour of the Singapore waterfront.

Sir Harold Wilson (left) boarding the motor launch for a tour of the Singapore waterfront.
 

Sir Harold Wilson (second from right) accompanied by officials touring the Singapore waterfront on a motor launch.


Sir Harold Wilson (second from right) being briefed by official during his tour of the Singapore waterfront on a motor launch.

How much the Singapore waterfront has changed since the visit of Sir Harold Wilson in 1978?

 

The above 2 photos of the Singapore waterfront to juxtapose the same place at different times since 1978.

Note:  A series of these archived photos and descriptions are curated on the nostalgic blogs to share with our heritage friends.  These personal blogs to express for non-commercial and not for profit purposes; and credit with acknowledgement and thanks to the National Archives of Singapore.  Appreciate to share Singapore collective memories of the 5-day visit of Sir Harold Wilson and Lady Wilson to Singapore from January 9 to January 13, 1978 at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.  Thank you.

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