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Short Singapore III
The Short Singapore III flying boat entered service in 1935, but only a small number were still in use at the start of the Second World War.
According to its constitution, the Republic of Singapore is a representative democracy with a parliamentary system. In practice, its politics have been completely dominated by a single party, the People's Action Party (PAP), since 1959.
The Prime Minister is the leader of the majority party in Parliament and also heads the executive branch of government the President plays a mostly ceremonial role as the head of state, although he or she can veto the appointment of top-level judges. Currently, the Prime Minister is Lee Hsien Loong, and the President is Tony Tan Keng Yam. The president serves a six-year term, while legislators serve five-year terms.
The unicameral parliament has 87 seats and has been dominated by PAP members for decades. Interestingly, there are also as many as nine nominated members, who are the losing candidates from opposition parties who came closest to winning their elections.
Singapore has a relatively simple judicial system, made up of a High Court, a Court of Appeals, and several types of Commercial Courts. The judges are appointed by the President upon the advice of the Prime Minister.
Nearly two-thirds of the main island is less than 50 feet (15 metres) above sea level. Timah Hill, the highest summit, has an elevation of only 531 feet (162 metres) with other peaks, such as Panjang and Mandai hills, it forms a block of rugged terrain in the centre of the island. To the west and south are lower scarps with marked northwest-southeast trends, such as Mount Faber. The eastern part of the island is a low plateau cut by erosion into an intricate pattern of hills and valleys. These physical units reflect their geologic foundations: the central hills are formed from granite rocks, the scarp lands from highly folded and faulted sedimentary rocks, and the eastern plateau from uncompacted sands and gravels.
Road to Success
Instead of demoralising Singapore, these problems motivated Singapore&rsquos leadership to focus on the nation&rsquos economy. With Cambridge-educated lawyer Lee Kuan Yew at its helm, the Singaporean government was aggressive in promoting export-oriented, labor-extensive industrialisation through a program of incentives to attract foreign investment. After all, Singapore still had its strategic location to its advantage.
By 1972, one-quarter of Singapore&rsquos manufacturing firms were either foreign-owned or joint-venture companies, and both USA and Japan were major investors. As a result of Singapore&rsquos steady political climate, favourable investment conditions and the rapid expansion of the world economy from 1965 to 1973, the country&rsquos Gross Domestic Product (GDP) experienced annual double-digit growth.
With the economic boom of the late 1960s and 1970s, new jobs were created in the private sector. The government provision of subsidised housing, education, health services and public transportation generated new jobs in the public sector. The Central Provident Fund, the country&rsquos comprehensive social security scheme sustained by compulsory contributions by employer and employee, provided the necessary capital for government projects and financial security for the country&rsquos workers in their old age.
By late 1970s, the government changed its strategic focus to skill and technology-intensive, high value-added industries and away from labor-intensive manufacturing. In particular, information technology was given priority for expansion and Singapore became the world&rsquos largest producer of disk drives and disk drive parts in 1989. In the same year, 30 per cent of the country&rsquos GDP was due to earnings from manufacturing.
Singapore&rsquos international and financial services sector was and still is one of the fastest growing sectors of its economy accounting for nearly 25 per cent of the country&rsquos GDP in the late 1980s. In the same year, Singapore ranked alongside Hong Kong as the two most important Asian financial centers after Tokyo. By 1990, Singapore was playing host to more than 650 multinational companies and several thousand financial institutions and trading firms. On the political front, Goh Chok Tong succeeded Lee Kuan Yew in 1990 and in 2004, Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, became Singapore&rsquos third prime minister.
Goh Chok Tong: Standing tall – or selling Singapore history short?Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong at the Official Launch of the Book “Standing Tall: The Goh Chok Tong Years, Volume 2” on 7 May 2021
In the second part of his two-volume memoirs, former PM Goh Chok Tong spoke about two persons close to him whose political careers had been a fascinating part of Singapore’s political history. His attempts to bring some light to some questions surrounding Ong Teng Cheong and Dr Tan Cheng Bock are hardly satisfactory. His memoirs – Tall Order and Standing Tall (the second volume just out) – represented the best opportunity for him to speak his mind on what happened, now that he is out of office for so long and in the twilight of his years. His words would have helped clear some of the toxic cobweb surrounding the fates of Ong and Dr Tan. But, regrettably, he either ducked the issues or, for lack of a better word, whitewashed them.
Let’s refresh our memory on what happened to Ong Teng Cheong and Dr Tan Cheng Bock. Ong was President from 1993 to 1999. He decided not to stand for re-election for a second term because his wife died of colon cancer and he himself had been battling with lymphoma to which he succumbed in 2002. Ill health apart, we knew he was unhappy about his presidency when he called a press conference to voice his frustration at what he perceived to be stonewalling by the establishment when he was asking questions about the national reserves.
Wikipedia: “Soon after his election to the presidency in 1993, Ong was tangled in a dispute over the access of information regarding Singapore’s financial reserves. The government said it would take 56-man-years to produce a dollar-and-cents value of the immovable assets. Ong discussed this with the Accountant-General and the Auditor-General and eventually conceded that the government could easily declare all of its properties, a list that took a few months to produce. Even then, the list was not complete it took the government a total of three years to produce the information that Ong requested.
“In an interview with Asiaweek six months after stepping down from the presidency, Ong indicated that he had asked for the audit based on the principle that as an elected president, he was bound to protect the national reserves, and the only way of doing so would be to know what reserves (both liquid cash and assets) the government owned.”
Goh said that Ong was probably deeply into too many details. Was he? Even so, was Ong out of line? Did Singapore’s second PM miss the chance to dwell a bit more on what the government had learned from the episode? If our presidency is indeed a work in progress, what steps were triggered by the Ong episode to ensure it became a more respected and stronger institution in its role as a second key to the national reserves?
According to Singapore Infopedia: “One of Ong’s legacies as President was refining the constitutional powers and workings of the elected presidency, particularly pertaining to its custodial role in safeguarding the national reserves. Until 1991 when the elected presidency was established, the President was primarily a ceremonial figure. The white paper, “The Principles for Determining and Safeguarding the Accumulated Reserves of the Government and the Fifth Schedule Statutory Boards and Government Companies”, published at the end of his term in 1999, sought to clarify the procedures taken by the President together with the government in safeguarding the national reserves.”
The Ministry of Finance: “The President has full information about the size of the reserves (including a listing of physical assets like land) and the performance of the investment entities. Each year, the Accountant-General prepares and submits the Government’s financial statements to the President. These statements are independently audited by the Auditor-General.”
In short, Ong Teng Cheong was not asking for too many details. He was carrying out his presidential duties without fear or favour. Thanks to him, today, President Halimah Yacob has full knowledge of the exact amount of the reserves because such knowledge was obviously needed for her to approve the Covid-19 budgets of 2020/21.
But, at the same time, no thanks to President Halimah, Singaporeans were deprived of a chance to elect Dr Tan Cheng Bock into the Istana.
Her predecessor, Dr Tony Tan, was elected as President in 2011, after S R Nathan’s two terms, almost by default. Dr Tan Cheng Bock lost narrowly and could have won if one of the other two non-government candidates had stood down. His second chance did not materialise because the government decided to make the last presidential race a reserved one. Halimah won uncontested in 2017.
Goh said Halimah would have lost in a straight fight against Dr Tan Cheng Bock if it had been a normal PE. I believe so too. The reserved PE 2017 had two other possible self-declared candidates, businessmen Salleh Marican and Farid Khan. But they were adjudged ineligible as their companies did not have at least $500m in shareholders’ equity under the new rules. Similarly, Goh said Dr Tan would not have been eligible in 2017.
Many people were, in fact, of the view that the two other Malay candidates were part of an elaborate wayang staged by the establishment to avoid having to reject a candidate so obviously popular with Singaporeans in the eligibility assessing stage. Not to talk about ring-fencing the presidency from Dr Tan altogether.
Goh again missed the historic opportunity, as an elder statesman standing tall above the partisan political fray, to say something more useful and meaningful about the impact of a PAP stalwart like Dr Tan helping to shape the direction of non-toxic politics beyond the People’s Action Party.
CYPHER, FACTORY NAME, YEAR OF MANUFACTURE, MODEL AND MARK
On the right side of the buttstock socket, from top to bottom we have the crown (or Cypher) of Georgius Rex (King George V) indicating the rifle was produced under his rule. "Enfield" indicates the rifle was produced at the Royal Small Arms Factory (RSAF) Enfield and is followed by the year of production, 1916. "ShtLE" is an abbreviation for Short Lee-Enfield and this is followed by the III*, which is the Mark variation.
The Basel III accord is a set of financial reforms that was developed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), with the aim of strengthening regulation, supervision, and risk management Systemic Risk Systemic risk can be defined as the risk associated with the collapse or failure of a company, industry, financial institution or an entire economy. It is the risk of a major failure of a financial system, whereby a crisis occurs when providers of capital lose trust in the users of capital within the banking industry. Due to the impact of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis on banks, Basel III was introduced to improve the banks&rsquo ability to handle shocks from financial stress Cost of Debt The cost of debt is the return that a company provides to its debtholders and creditors. Cost of debt is used in WACC calculations for valuation analysis. and to strengthen their transparency and disclosure.
Basel III builds on the previous accords, Basel I and II, and is part of a continuous process to enhance regulation in the banking industry. The accord aims to prevent banks from hurting the economy by taking more risks than they can handle.
The Basel Committee
The BCBS was established in 1974 by the central bank Federal Reserve (The Fed) The Federal Reserve is the central bank of the United States and is the financial authority behind the world&rsquos largest free market economy. governors of the Group of Ten (G10) countries, as a response to disruptions in financial markets. The committee was set up as a forum where member countries can deliberate on banking supervisory matters. BCBS is responsible for ensuring financial stability by strengthening regulation, supervision, and banking practices globally.
The committee was expanded in 2009 to 27 jurisdictions, including Brazil, Canada, Germany, Australia, Argentina, China, France, India, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Russia, Hong Kong, Japan, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, Luxembourg, Turkey, Switzerland, Sweden, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, Indonesia, and Belgium.
The BCBS reports to the Group of Governors and Heads of Supervision (GHOS). Its secretariat is located in Basel, Switzerland, at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). Since being established, the BCBS has formulated the Basel I, Basel II, and Basel III accords.
Key Principles of Basel III
1. Minimum Capital Requirements
The Basel III accord raised the minimum capital requirements for banks from 2% in Basel II to 4.5% of common equity, as a percentage of the bank&rsquos risk-weighted assets. There is also an additional 2.5% buffer capital requirement that brings the total minimum requirement to 7%. Banks can use the buffer when faced with financial stress, but doing so can lead to even more financial constraints when paying dividends.
As of 2015, the Tier 1 capital requirement increased from 4% in Basel II to 6% in Basel III. The 6% includes 4.5% of Common Equity Tier 1 and an extra 1.5% of additional Tier 1 capital. The requirements were to be implemented starting in 2013, but the implementation date has been postponed several times, and banks now have until January 1, 2022, to implement the changes.
2. Leverage Ratio
Basel III introduced a non-risk-based leverage ratio to serve as a backstop to the risk-based capital requirements. Banks are required to hold a leverage ratio in excess of 3%. The non-risk-based leverage ratio is calculated by dividing Tier 1 capital by the average total consolidated assets of a bank.
To conform to the requirement, the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States fixed the leverage ratio at 5% for insured bank holding companies, and at 6% for Systematically Important Financial Institutions (SIFI).
3. Liquidity Requirements
Basel III introduced the usage of two liquidity ratios &ndash the Liquidity Coverage Ratio and the Net Stable Funding Ratio. The Liquidity Coverage Ratio requires banks to hold sufficient highly liquid assets that can withstand a 30-day stressed funding scenario as specified by the supervisors. The Liquidity Coverage Ratio mandate was introduced in 2015 at only 60% of its stated requirements and is expected to increase by 10% each year till 2019 when it takes full effect.
On the other hand, the Net Stable Funding Ratio (NSFR) requires banks to maintain stable funding above the required amount of stable funding for a period of one year of extended stress. The NSFR was designed to address liquidity mismatches and will start becoming operational in 2018.
Impact of Basel III
The requirement that banks must maintain a minimum capital amount of 7% in reserve will make banks less profitable. Most banks will try to maintain a higher capital reserve to cushion themselves from financial distress, even as they lower the number of loans issued to borrowers. They will be required to hold more capital against assets, which will reduce the size of their balance sheets.
A study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2011 revealed that the medium-term effect of Basel III on GDP would be -0.05% to -0.15% annually. To stay afloat, banks will be forced to increase their lending spreads as they pass the extra cost on to their customers.
The introduction of new liquidity requirements, mainly the Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR) and Net Stable Funding Ratio (NSFR), will affect the operations of the bond market. To satisfy LCR liquid-asset criteria, banks will shy away from holding high run-off assets such as Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) A Special Purpose Vehicle/Entity (SPV/SPE) is a separate entity created for a specific and narrow objective, and that is held off-balance sheet. SPV is a and Structured Investment Vehicles (SIVs) Structured Investment Vehicle (SIV) A structured investment vehicle (SIV) is a non-bank financial entity set up to purchase investments designed to profit from the difference in interest rates - known as the credit spread - between short-term and long-term debt. .
The demand for secularized assets and lower-quality corporate bonds will decrease due to the LCR bias toward banks holding government bonds and covered bonds. As a result, banks will hold more liquid assets and increase the proportion of long-term debts, in order to reduce maturity mismatch and maintain minimum NSFR. Banks will also minimize business operations that are more subject to liquidity risks.
The implementation of Basel III will affect the derivatives markets, as more clearing brokers exit the market due to higher costs. Basel III capital requirements focus on reducing counterparty risk, which depends on whether the bank trades through a dealer or a central clearing counterparty (CCP). If a bank enters into a derivative trade with a dealer, Basel III creates a liability and requires a high capital charge for that trade.
On the contrary, derivative trade through a CCP results in only a 2% charge, making it more attractive to banks. The exit of dealers would consolidate risks among fewer members, thereby making it difficult to transfer trades from one bank to another and increase systemic risk.
The Institute of International Finance, a 450-member banking trade association located in the United States, protested the implementation of Basel III due to its potential to hurt banks and slow down economic growth. The study by OECD revealed that Basel III would likely decrease annual GDP growth by 0.05 to 0.15%.
Also, the American Bankers Association and a host of Democrats in the U.S. Congress argued against the implementation of Basel III, fearing that it would cripple small U.S. banks by increasing their capital holdings on mortgage and SME loans.
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- Credit Risk Credit Risk Credit risk is the risk of loss that may occur from the failure of any party to abide by the terms and conditions of any financial contract, principally,
- Capital Controls Capital Controls Capital controls are measures taken by either the government or the central bank of an economy to regulate the outflow and inflow of foreign capital in the country. The measures taken may be in the form of taxes, tariffs, volume restrictions, or outright legislation.
- Currency Risk Currency Risk Currency risk, or exchange rate risk, refers to the exposure faced by investors or companies that operate across different countries, in regard to unpredictable gains or losses due to changes in the value of one currency in relation to another currency.
- Quantitative Easing Quantitative Easing Quantitative easing (QE) is a monetary policy of printing money, that is implemented by the Central Bank to energize the economy. The Central Bank creates
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This Is What Inequality Looks Like
By Teo You Yenn
The next on your list of Singapore books is This is What Inequality Looks Like. This is by a sociologist, Teo You Yenn, but it’s also beautifully written, isn’t it? And it became a bestseller in Singapore.
Everyone now assumes Singapore is all about Crazy Rich Asians, a film that has eclipsed everything else as the dominant pop cultural reference point, particularly from the Western perspective. This book is a good starting point for people who are unfamiliar with Singaporean society or who perhaps have a less complex, more cursory impression of the country.
Also, it’s a good book to approach in light of the hyper-emergence of China as a significant world power. The fact is a lot of Singaporean Chinese are descended from China. There’s an interesting power relation there, a connection to China, but not quite.
“Ponti is a portrayal of, and a love letter to, the country that I grew up in.”
People who are curious about what it is that makes contemporary Singapore society pretty singular could look to this book. It sheds light on basic class differences and social inequality. These are issues which most Singaporeans have always been aware of. Frankly, Singapore is quite a classist society and fairly materialistic.
The book is very, very illuminating because there is a massive difference between low income, mid-income and very affluent Singaporeans. Of course, these income differences and brackets affect everyone in every society, but this book is incredibly nuanced. To look at these detailed case studies of that and to read more thoroughly about it gives you a better understanding of the economic and social conditions that affect everyday Singaporeans.
Yes, because in terms of per capita income, Singapore is one of the ten richest countries in the world. I loved one of the opening comments in the book. Teo You Yenn says that, as a sociologist, she cannot really begin with the question, ‘Is there poverty in contemporary Singapore?’ because the answer to that question, based on what she knows about the world, has to be ‘Yes.’ But as a Singaporean, she can hear the question and think, ‘Hmm. I’m not sure.’
It’s true. That’s why it’s so interesting. In terms of Singapore as a society, some things are very accessible and there’s the widely-held knowledge that, for example, the cost of food is pretty good. It’s kept quite low. On the other hand, there are other things, like associated living costs, that make life quite difficult—though obviously not difficult in a way that you could transpose to some other countries and economic models.
A history of Singapore in 10 dishes
The history of a food-obsessed city-state through its multifaceted cuisine.
One of my earliest memories is of sitting around a makeshift communal table with my mother and sister, past our bedtime, in front of the car park at the public housing estate we lived in in Singapore. It was sometime in the mid-1980s, long after hygiene regulations had confined vendors to dedicated hawker centers. This pushcart stall, likely illegal, was probably one of the last of Singapore’s itinerant hawkers. We sat on low stools, tucking into our piping-hot fishball soup and noodles served dry.
Singaporeans are obsessed with food. We can expound ceaselessly on where to find the best bak chor mee (minced meat noodles) and will queue for hours for a good yong tau foo (surimi-stuffed tofu and vegetables). Perhaps because most of us are descendants of immigrants thrust into an artificial construct of a nation, or maybe because we live in a country that is constantly renewing and rebuilding, one of the few tangible things that connects us to the past and our cultural identity is food.
There are many facets of Singaporean cuisine: Malay, Chinese, Indian, Eurasian (a fusion of European and Asian dishes and ingredients) Peranakan (combining Chinese and Malay food traditions), and catch-all Western, which usually means old-school Hainanese-style British food—a local version of Western food adapted by chefs from the southern Chinese province of Hainan, who worked in British restaurants or households.
Singapore was a trading city going as early as the 14th century. Some early settlers were the Orang Laut (sea nomads) and Chinese merchants, and various Indonesian empires lay claim to the territory before it became part of the Malay Malacca Sultanate in the 15th century.
In 1511, Portugal captured Malacca , then the world’s largest spice market, in a bid to take control of the lucrative maritime Southeast Asia trade route. The Sultan of Malacca fled south and his son founded the Johor Sultanate, which encompassed Singapore. In 1613, the Portuguese came to Singapore on a punitive expedition and burned Singapore to the ground. It was abandoned until the 19th century, when Sir Stamford Raffles, representing the British East India Company, arrived.
Unlike other Europeans who later sailed into the region to try and divide up territories, the Portuguese intermarried with locals . Some of their descendants, also known as the Kristang, eventually migrated to Singapore when Malacca was seized by the Dutch in 1641.
Feng is a spicy, tangy Portuguese-Eurasian stew of diced pig offal. Damian D’Silva, executive chef at Eurasian-Peranakan restaurant Folklore , says a good feng requires “a good spice mix, fresh innards that are properly cleaned, and patience”—cleaning and preparing the offal, which includes letting it simmer for hours and sit overnight, can take days. Despite its longstanding roots in Singapore, Eurasian cuisine is notoriously hard to find at restaurants, but some chefs like D’Silva are working to change that .
Singapore became a British trading colony in 1819 . The British, whose rule lasted until 1963, left a legacy of left-hand traffic, English as the lingua franca , and the common-law system. Some say epok-epok , a popular snack, is an Indian samosa adapted to the British palate, while others say it was inspired by the Cornish pasty . (Still others say it comes from the Portuguese empada , which would imply that epok-epok predates the British.)
While some purists insist that the similar curry puff—a popular snack in Malaysia and Singapore—and epok-epok are not the same thing, Madam Halimah, who runs Yang’s Epok-epok with her sister, says epok-epok is simply the Malay version of the curry puff, with a thinner crust and finger-pinched edges. Their epok-epok, available in two flavors (sardine or curried potato), are probably among the cheapest in Singapore, priced at just S.50 (.37) each and make a perfect tea-time snack or a quick meal on the go.
Bak kut teh
By the late 19th century, Singapore had emerged as an important regional entrepôt, given its strategic location and deep-water harbor. Laborers from southeastern China toiled along the Singapore River, unloading goods from flat-bottomed wooden boats. The origins of bak kut teh, or pork rib soup, are unclear. It may have been invented locally for these laborers as a much-needed morning energy boost, perhaps by Teochew hawkers—Chinese immigrants from the Chaoshan region in China’s Guangdong province. Others claim the recipe was brought over from China’s Fujian province.
Whether you prefer the peppery and light Teochew bak kut teh, or the more robust and herbal Hokkien variant, the soup is typically eaten with a side of steamed rice, chopped red chili in dark soy sauce and, to a lesser extent, strong oolong tea to cut through the grease. As a child, I used to pay early morning visits to the bak kut teh stall with my grandfather we would sip hot tea together while we waited for our order.
Head to Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh ’s main outlet on Rangoon Road for an old-school experience, complete with oolong tea from Singapore’s oldest tea merchant, Pek Sin Choon.
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By the 20th century, with Singapore flying the free-port flag high, trade had burgeoned and attracted shiploads of immigrants. Singapore’s population jumped from about 1,000 in 1819 to over 200,000 at the turn of the century, according to a 1901 census . Chinese immigrants made up the lion’s share (72 percent) of the population, followed by Malays, Indians, Europeans, and Eurasians of mixed Asian and European descent.
Laksa , a dish of thick rice vermicelli with prawns, fishcake, tau pok (tofu puff), and see hum (blood cockles) in a rich, spicy coconut-based broth, garnished with roughly-chopped daun kesum ( laksa leaves), is said to have originated from intermarriages between local Malay women and the Chinese traders and sailors who arrived in the British- and Dutch-controlled port cities along the spice route.
At Sungei Road Laksa, the broth simmers over a charcoal fire and the soup is dished out with production-line efficiency. Second-generation owner Wong Ai Tin says her father, who opened his pushcart stall in 1956, popularized eating laksa with a spoon instead of chopsticks paired with a spoon. This was perhaps out of necessity, as customers then huddled around the pushcart and ate laksa standing by the roadside.
Chinese immigrants from Hainan province are said to have created kaya toast—toast served with a custardy coconut jam and butter—in the 1930s. According to legend, Hainan cooks aboard British ships were attempting to replicate fruit jam, but made do with limited ingredients, including coconut, eggs, and pandan leaves.
The economic slowdown brought on by the Great Depression offered new opportunities for these Hainanese immigrants, who took over low-rent, vacant buildings and opened kopi tiams (coffee shops).
Heap Seng Leong is a blink-and-you-miss-it relic in a nondescript public housing estate in central Singapore. Shi Pong Hsu, the 82-year-old proprietor and coffee master, has been running the show since 1974. His 55-year-old son, Shi Ting Chow, says little has changed since then: They’ve only just raised the price of kaya toast, by S.20 (.15) to S$1.20 (.87).
They are Hokchew, meaning their ancestors came from the Fuzhou region of Fujian province the Hokchews were also known for opening kopi tiams. The elder Shi toasted the bread on a charcoal grill and served it alongside kopi gu you (coffee with melted butter), a Hainanese specialty from the 1930s. Some might say the kaya toast here is nothing to write home about—I’d say I didn’t come all the way here just for the toast.
Kueh ubi kayu
British forces in Singapore surrendered to the Japanese in February 1942, in what Sir Winston Churchill described as “the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history.” It was renamed Syonan-to (Light of the South Island). The Japanese occupation of Singapore lasted from 1942 to 1945, and was marked by hardship and scarcity.
Kueh ubi kayu , or steamed tapioca cake, is a bite-sized dessert, consisting of steamed tapioca, a starch made from cassava root, which is then coated with grated coconut. It is widely believed to have its origins in the occupation, when many locals were forced to survive on cassava, which grows easily and can be harvested every three months.
Ang Tiong Guan has been making kueh ubi kayu for the last 30 years at Heng Heng Ondeh-ondeh and Tapioca Cake, the stall he took over from his mother after her death. It’s a laborious process: He and his wife, Ng Gek Hoe, typically spend more than 12 hours each day making the chewy kueh and manning the stall.
“We sell more tapioca cakes than my mother-in-law [did], even though the recipe is the same. Maybe during those post-war days, the stigma of eating tapioca cake was too strong,” Ng says. Their stall opens at 7 a.m. and they usually sell out by midday.
Fish-head curry was invented in Singapore in 1949, when Marian Jacob Gomez, an Indian restaurateur from Kerala, wanted to create a South Indian-style dish to cater to Chinese customers who considered fish head a delicacy.
Around this time, Singapore witnessed the first wave of Indian goldsmiths arriving from Tamil Nadu, who followed in the footsteps of earlier Indian immigrants, most of them ethnic Tamils from South India who worked as laborers, money-lenders, and traders. There were even some convicts who decided to settle down in Singapore after serving their sentences.
“Today, tourists from India come to our restaurant and some of them are shocked to see that fish-head curry is on the menu, as the dish does not exist in India,” says Nagajyothi Mahendran, the third-generation owner of Samy’s Curry. Mahendran says her grandfather, M Veerasamy, started cooking the dish in a shophouse—a mixed-use building—in the 1960s.
Samy’s Curry , now housed in a 5,000-square-feet colonial house, serves about 50 claypots of the dish each day. Opt for biryani rice and don’t forget to fold your banana leaf in half, inward towards yourself, kept in place by your cutlery, when you are done eating—basic banana-leaf etiquette.
Singapore’s relationship with Malaysia is complicated, to say the least . The postwar years were a time of social unrest, unemployment, and anti-colonial sentiments in Singapore, which eventually culminated in the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963 —uniting Singapore, Malaya, Sarawak, and North Borneo under one flag. The union was not to last—Singapore left a mere 23 months later.
As with many local dishes in Malaysia and Singapore, there is ongoing debate regarding the origin of sambal stingray. Depending on who you ask, it could be a Malaysian dish that gained popularity in Singapore, or a Singaporean Malay creation that is commonly sold by Chinese hawkers. What we do agree on is that this dish single-handedly changed the fate of stingray, once an unpopular fish. Despite being classified as an overfished species by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) , it is still a relatively inexpensive fish in Singapore today.
Typically slathered with spicy, aromatic sambal chili paste, wrapped in banana leaf, and grilled, this dish is a hawker center mainstay—Chomp Chomp BBQ at Fengshan Market & Food Centre does a pretty decent version, best enjoyed with a squeeze of calamansi lime before serving. Chinchalok , a spicy and pungent fermented shrimp sauce dip, is optional.
Before television sets became commonplace in Singapore, cinema was the main source of entertainment for many Singaporeans, its appeal wide-ranging with screenings of American, British, Chinese, Malay, Hindi, and Tamil films.
Kacang puteh , Malay for “white beans,” is a selection of nuts, crackers, and grain legumes. The mix was traditionally packed in cones made from newspaper and sold by pushcart vendors outside cinemas. These pushcarts usually contained a range of snacks, including roasted cashew nuts, steamed chickpeas, sugar-coated peanuts, and murukku , a crunchy and savory Indian snack.
The local cinema industry managed to survive the Japanese occupation during World War II, but it took a hit in the 1980s with the emergence of video-cassette recorders and rampant video piracy. Lower cinema attendances meant fewer customers, with the arrival of cineplexes eventually sounding the death knell for kacang puteh vendors. These modern cineplexes often come with adjoining food and beverage stands and strict rules on the consumption of snacks bought elsewhere.
Amirthaalangaram Moorthy is a third-generation kacang puteh vendor whose stall is near a bus stop on Selegie Road right outside Peace Centre—a far cry from the now-demolished Hoover Theatre in Balestier, where his father used to set up his stall. He still painstakingly makes most of the snacks from scratch, but in the face of inexpensive, shiny packs of factory-produced party snacks stocked at convenience stores and supermarkets, he has stiff competition.
Mala Xiang Guo
In the 1990s, facing an aging population and declining fertility rates, Singapore opened up to immigrants and foreign workers. Between 1990 and 2015, Singapore’s population increased by 82 percent, among which citizens grew by 29 percent, permanent residents by 371 percent, and non-residents by 424 percent, according to government statistics, with most new immigrants hailing from Malaysia, China, and India.
The influx of new immigrants has contributed to the continued evolution of the Singaporean foodscape. Mala xiang guo , a fiery, mouth-numbing stir-fry of vegetables from southwestern China, has become popular in Singapore in recent years.
Stall owners Mao Congfang and Wu Zhansheng, who migrated from China’s Henan province in 2005, opened Ri Ri Hong Mala Xiang Guo, and are widely credited with popularizing the dish in Singapore.
“We’ve tweaked the dish to be less greasy and less salty to accommodate local preferences,” Mao said, adding that in the beginning, most of their clientele were recent immigrants from China. “Today, half our customers are locally born Singaporeans.”
Short Singapore III - History
Although the SAF was established in 1965 and Singapore only gained her current version of a National Service-based armed forces in 1967, the history of her defence started long before that.
The first local forces involved in Singapore's protection were the Singapore Volunteer Rifle Corps (SVRC). Though our current generation of the armed forces is worlds apart from the SVRC of 1854, it still shares a commitment to excellence and loyalty to Singapore.
1819 - Beginning of colonial rule. Singapore relied on British forces to protect her from all threats.
1854 - Creation of the Singapore Volunteer Rifle Corps (SVRC), a volunteer organisation to maintain internal security.
1888 - The SVRC became the Singapore Volunteer Artillery (SVA), and its success prompted formation of other volunteer corps.
1901 – SVA and other volunteer corps were consolidated into the Singapore Volunteer Corps (SVC). Army Cadet Corps, precursor of the National Cadet Corps, started.
1915 - The SVC acquitted itself extremely well in the Singapore Mutiny.
1922 - The SVC was renamed the Straits Settlements Volunteer Force (SSVF) to include volunteer forces from Malacca and Penang.
1934 – The Straits Settlements Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (SSRNVR) was formed.
1941 - The Japanese campaign into South East Asia had begun. The British commanders had thought that Singapore was an "impregnable fortress", but troops stationed here were inexperienced compared to the Japanese forces.
10 Dec 1941 - Disaster struck when two British battleships, Repulse and Prince of Wales, were sunk by Japanese planes.
Jan 1942 - The British, fighting a losing battle, chose to retreat. They blew up a section on Johore Causeway in a bid to slow down the Japanese advance into Singapore.
Feb 1942 - Japanese troops entered Singapore and seized control over Tengah Air Field and Johore Causeway.
8 Feb 1942 - The Japanese crossed the narrow Straits of Johore into Kranji and Sarimbun, beginning their invasion of Singapore. For the next seven days, the British put up stiff resistance but were no match for the Japanese. Volunteer forces also fought alongside regular forces in the Battles of Bukit Timah and Pasir Panjang to fend off the Japanese.
15 Feb 1942 - Despite all their efforts, Singapore was surrendered. During the Japanese occupation, the Straits Settlements Volunteer Force (SSVF) and local forces were indispensable to the war effort. SSVF corpswoman Elizabeth Choy was detained and interrogated by the Kempeitai alongside other locals following the Double Tenth Massacre. Men and women such as Lim Bo Seng joined special operations forces, gathered intelligence and fought where they could. The Chinese in Singapore's volunteer armies were targeted during the Sook Ching Massacre, or sent with other prisoners of war to build the Death Railway.
May 1945 - The war in Europe ended with Germany's surrender.
Aug 1945 - The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki signalled the end of Japan's war efforts.
15 Aug 1945 - The Japanese invaders in Singapore laid down their arms and the Japanese occupation was over.
1948 - The Malayan Naval Force was formed by the colonial government in Singapore to bolster its sea defences.
1949 - The Straits Settlements Volunteer Force (SSVF), which had been dissolved, was reinstated as the Singapore Volunteer Corps (SVC) to keep peace domestically.
Mar 1957 - Establishment of the first battalion of regular soldiers, the First Singapore Infantry Regiment (1 SIR).
Apr 1957 - Britain agrees to Singapore self-rule with partial internal self-government
1959 - Singapore granted full internal self-government.
1963 - When Singapore joined the Federation of Malaysia, its armed forces was transferred to federal control. Singapore's naval force, then known as the Singapore Division of the Malayan Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, became part of the Royal Malaysian Naval Volunteer Reserve. This association only lasted two years till 9 August 1965 when Singapore became an independent nation, responsible for its own defences.
1963 - President Sukarno launched Konfrantasi in response to formation of Malaysia. Singapore's troops were deployed to protect strategic interests. 1 SIR, 2 SIR, the Singapore Volunteer Corps (SVC) and the Vigilante Corps (VC) were all deployed to protect strategically important sites. The VC found incredible support from citizens, with 91.4% of eligible men volunteering.
9 Aug 1965 - After more than 100 years of British colonial rule and two tumultuous years under the Malaysian Federation, Singapore was declared a sovereign and independent nation. An urgent priority after independence was to build up Singapore's own defence capability. Singapore then had only two infantry battalions of 50 officers and some 1,000 men and two ships. There was no air force. Singapore's armed forces had to be created virtually from scratch.
Aug 1965 - The Ministry of the Interior and Defence (MID) was established with Dr Goh Keng Swee as its first Minister. The key priority then was to build up the Army into a credible force as soon as possible. With its small population and the need to channel resources to economic development, it was decided that Singapore's defence would be based on citizen armed forces. However, there was no military tradition in Singapore. The bulk of the population had traditionally held military service in low esteem. An intense educational effort was required to overcome such attitudes. Ministers, Members of Parliament, senior civil servants and community leaders volunteered to serve in the People's Defence Force. In this way, they set an example and drove home the message that it was the responsibility of every citizen to defend their nation.
1965 - Singapore Volunteer Corps was renamed People's Defence Force.
1966 - The Singapore Naval Volunteer Force (SNVF) started with just three ships - RSS Panglima, RSS Bedok and RSS Singapura. RSS Singapura, moored at Telok Ayer Basin, served as the SNVF's first headquarters. Thus, the newly formed naval force had only two seaworthy ships to form its sea defences.
1967 - National Service was established. The NS (Amendment) Bill, 1967 was first read in Parliament on 27 Feb 1967. After a spirited debate in Parliament, the Act was finally passed on 14 Mar 1967.
28 Mar to 18 Apr 1967 – Registration of NS began at the Central Manpower Base (CMPB) and its district offices in Katong, Serangoon and Bukit Panjang. Pink reminder cards were sent by post to the first batch of citizens who were born between 1 Jan 1949 and 30 Jun 1949 - some 9,000 of them. Only the top 10% of the 9,000 were chosen for two years of full-time military training in two new NS army battalions – the 3rd and 4th Singapore Infantry Regiments (3 and 4 SIR) at Taman Jurong Camp. The first batch of enlistees for full-time military service reported from 17 August 1967. A total of 450 men were absorbed into each battalion with formal training commencing on 11 September 1967. Those who were not selected for full-time military service served in the Peoples’ Defence Force (PDF), the Vigilante Corps and Special Constabulary.
1967 - The SNVF boost its numbers to 89 mobilised personnel and 278 volunteer officers and men. Some were women from the Singapore Women's Auxiliary Naval Service (or SWANS), which had been formed in 1957.
5 May 1967 - The Singapore Naval White Ensign was hoisted with pride, signalling that Singapore finally had a navy to call its own.
Aug 1968 - The SNVF was renamed the People's Defence Force (Sea) under the Sea Defence Command. In December that year, the Sea Defence Command was renamed the Maritime Command.
1968 - The Singapore Air Defence Command (SADC) was formed. It started with eight Cessna 172-H aircraft to train its pilots.
1968 - The British announced their intention to pull out all their forces from Singapore by 1971.
1970 - Hawker Hunter fighter aircraft was added to SADC’s fleet.
1970 - The Ministry of the Interior and Defence (MID) initially oversaw both internal and external defence, but as the defence structure grew and the work became more defined, it separated into two specialised ministries. Thus, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) were formed. MINDEF moved from Pearl's Hill to Tanglin Complex at Napier Road. The latter served as MINDEF's headquarters until April 1989 when the ministry shifted to its present site at Bukit Gombak. Today, MINDEF continues to be the Service headquarters for the Army, Navy and Air Force, providing policy direction, managerial and technological support to the SAF.
1971 - When the British forces were withdrawn, Tengah, Seletar, Sembawang and Changi airbases were entrusted to the SADC.
1975 - The Singapore Air Defence Command (SADC) was renamed the “Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)”. The Maritime Command was renamed the "Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN)".
When the SAF first started in the 1960s, the most urgent focus for what we now call the 1st Generation SAF was to provide for Singapore's basic defence. The 2nd Generation SAF, from the early 80s to late 90s, saw the upgrading and modernising of our Army, Navy and Air Force. Post-9/11, there was a shift in the security landscape, which widened to include non-conventional threats such as terrorism and piracy.
Resource constraints and the emergence of advanced warfighting technologies also drove the SAF to rethink our development trajectory. To meet new security challenges effectively, the SAF embarked on a 3rd Generation transformation journey in 2004 and continues today to upgrade its capabilities into an advanced networked force.
1983 - Last battalion of the People's Defence Force is disbanded.
1983 - RSAF acquired Super Puma helicopters.
1988 - Singapore's first locally produced Howitzer gun FH-88 used.
1989 - MINDEF moves to its current Bukit Gombak location.
1990 – The RSAF added F-16 Fighting Falcon jets to its fleet.
1990 – The SAF deployed troops to help in the humanitarian effort after an earthquake in the Philippines.
1997 - The RSS Challenger, Singapore’s first submarine, launched by the RSN.
1999 - Singaporean-made SAR 21 rifle was introduced.
1999 - The SAF deployed a medical team to central Taiwan for the relief mission after a massive earthquake there.
1999 - The SAF contributed to peace-keeping efforts in Timor-Leste from 1999 to 2003.
2001 – The RSAF sent a humanitarian aid package worth S$50,000, on behalf of Singapore, to provide relief for the flood victims of Pulau Nias in Indonesia.
2001 - The SAF contributed S$200,000 in the form of tents and groundsheets to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in response to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
2003 – The SAF contributed to the reconstruction efforts in Iraq from 2003 to 2006.
2004 - 9th Singapore Division (9 Div) merged with the Infantry Formation, to take on greater roles in training the infantry.
2004 – The SAF activated Operation Flying Eagle, its humanitarian aid plan, after the Boxing Day Tsunami in Indonesia.
2004 - The SAF embarked on its 3rd Generation transformation.
2005 - The RSAF participated in a week-long relief mission for Hurricane Katrina, USA.
2005 - The SAF deployed a medical team to assist at the Sanglah General Hospital to treat and manage the victims of the deadly blasts from the terrorist attacks in Bali, Indonesia.
2006 - The SAF deployed a medical team to Yogyakarta, as part of Singapore's humanitarian assistance to Indonesia following the earthquake which hit central Java.
2006 - The SAF deployed a medical team and three CH-47 Chinooks as part of the HADR efforts on the flash flood in Thailand.
2007 – The SAF deployed a medical team to Afghanistan and operated as part of the New Zealand Defence Force's (NZDF) Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamiyan.
2007 – The SAF assisted Indonesia in Search and Locate Operations for the missing airliner Adam Air Boeing 737.
2008 - The SAF donated US$80,000 worth of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) package to Chengdu, China to support the People’s Liberation Army's relief efforts.
2009 - Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicle introduced to the Army.
2009 - The SAF deployed the RSS Persistence, a Landing Ship Tank (LST) with 240 personnel and two Super Puma helicopters embarked, to the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy operations.
2009 - The SAF deployed a medical team to provide medical aid to victims of the earthquake which hit West Sumatra.
2010 – The SAF launched the Military Domain Experts Scheme (MDES) for highly specialised personnel.
2010 - Sikorsky S-70B naval helicopters added to the RSN improved integration between RSAF and RSN.
2011 – The RSAF acquired the Surface-to-air PYthon-5 and DERby-Short Range (SPYDER-SR) Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) system and the Heron 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to update its technology.
2011 - The SAF commissioned the first High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) battery at Khatib Camp.
2011 - Operationalisation of 2nd Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment (2 SIR) as the first Motorised Infantry Battalion.
2011 - The SAF joined rescue operations and provided humanitarian aid to victims of the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand.
2013 - The Committee to Strengthen NS (CSNS) was set up to examine how the NS system can be strengthened for the future, to better serve Singapore and Singaporeans.
2014 – The SAF deployed a water purification team to produce clean drinking water for the affected residents in the Kelantan Flood.
2014 – Formation of the SAF Volunteer Corps (SAFVC).
2014 – The SAF joined international search and recovery efforts for AirAsia plane, flight QZ8501, which crashed en route from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore.
2014 – The SAF supported the Search and Locate operation in the South China Sea for the missing MAS aircraft flight MH370.
2015 – The SAF commissioned the Peacekeeper Protected Response Vehicle (PRV). The PRV will replace the aging fleet of V200 armoured vehicles, which have been in service since 1970.
2015 – Soft launch of Terrex 2 (Infantry Carrier Vehicle) at Defence and Security Equipment International in London.
2015 - The SAF deployed personnel and assets to assist in fighting forest fires in Sumatra, Indonesia.
2015 - The SAF deployed C-130 aircraft to airlift the Singapore relief contingent and their equipment to assist in the affected area of the Nepal earthquake.
2015 – The SAF and the Singapore Civil Defence Force were deployed in firefighting operations in northern Thailand.
2015 – Commemoration of 50 years of the formation of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF50).
2017 – Commemoration of 50 years of National Service (NS50).
2017 – Commemoration of 50 years of the formation of the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN50).
2017 - The SAF deployed medical teams to Iraq to provide medical support to coalition forces contributing to counter ISIS efforts in Iraq.