Archive for May, 2008

Remember That Ten Years Series

How many of you still have those old Ten Years Series in the 60s and 70s? Yes they are the so called official compilation of past years examination papers for the GCE ‘O’ Levels and ‘A’ Levels. But whether these are approved publication by the MOE and University of Cambridge Local Examination Syndicate, I’m not sure.

How much was it then?

See who is the publisher;

See above, I drew a picture of the Jaws on it! Probably influenced by the Movie Jaws then…haha…

Those ten years series in the past were really “No Frills” type of books – simple cover designs and even the inside will make you fall asleep;

Of course when buying the Ten Years Series, we must ensure that it comes with the answers found at the back;

Above all photo credits : Scholastic Books and Publications

Now even the Pri.6 PSLE also have the similar type compilations of past examinations papers but only 5 Years Series. And now it’s by MOE, Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board.

Credit : MOE and Hillview Publications Pte Ltd

Not to mention now we have too many types of assessment books and those past years examinations papers from top schools sold at the road side stalls or push carts for Primary to Secondary schools.

80 Years Old Fullerton Building

I was officially introduced to this Grand Old Dame when I was in Primary 3 (1971). I’m talking about the Fullerton Building and the Chapter on “A Bus-tour of our City” from the History book “The Pioneering Years”;

The top left corner shows the General Post Office which was the Fullerton Building at that time;

Closer view;

Above credit : Credit : Educational Publication Bureau, MOE, Singapore

In Primary 4, I was again introduced to it now from my Geography Book (Social Studies);

From the sea view;

From another page;

Above credit : McGraw-Hill Far Eastern Publishers (S) Ltd

From the past till now, It’s difficult to find a complete history write up of this Fullerton Building in our school textbook. It’s always a bit here and a bit there. Maybe we should ….. anyway below is a bit of the history on Fullerton Building and Fullerton Square.

Before Fullerton Building was built;

– 1829 : That year, Sir Robert Fullerton (first governor of the Straits Settlement of Singapore) built the Fort Fullerton at the mouth of Singapore River to defend the harbour and warehouses. The Fort was built with Artillery Barracks, a house for the officers and barracks for soldiers. On Battery Point, 68-pounder guns guarded the entrance to the River. The site it was located was now known as Fullerton Square.

Above shows a 1825 map. The Rocky Point was the site where the Fort Fullerton was built. It was then known as Battery or Artillery Point. The Singapore Stone was also found there.

– 1843 : The Singapore Stone (the monolith, a very large standing Sandstone about 3M height and width, with lines of inscription founded soon after the arrival of Raffles) located at the mouth of the Singapore River, was destroyed by the British to extend the Fort Fullerton.

Below shows a fragment of the Singapore Stone;

Credit : Curriculum Planning & Development Division, MOE, Singapore

– 1854 : The Fort Fullerton was expanded by Captain Collyer. By 1859, it was expanded by nearly 3 times its original size and at a cost of $840,000. The fort was demolished in 11 June 1873.

– 1876 : On this site, the first General Post Office was built. The first POSB was established here.

Below shows the first General Post Office building in the 19th century;

1879 : On the same site the Exchange Building was built besides the first General Post Office. opened in 1879, and was replaced by Fullerton Building in 1928.

– 1882 : A Victorian-styled fountain was built in Fullerton Square to commemorate the influential merchant Tan Kim Seng’s donation to the City’s Waterworks. In 1925, this fountain was moved to the Esplanade and the space vacant became a car park which was also the venue for many election rallies in the past. Many important buildings also then built around this Fullerton Square.

Below shows the first General Post Office, the Exchange and the Tan Kim Seng fountain in 1885;

Another postcard showing the General Post Office in 1900;

A 1910 postcard of the General Post Office;

– 1923 to 1924 : The Exchange Building was demolished.

After the Fullerton Building was built;

– 1925 to 1928 : The construction of the Fullerton Building began. During the initial groundwork, excavations revealed the gun casements of the old Fort Fullerton. In fact, the Fullerton Building was built over reclaimed land. This Neo-classical architecture was originally built to house the General Post Office.

2 tablets, one on each side of the entrance stairway reveals that the construction work began on February 1924, and the building was completed in June 1928. The building cost was estimated at S$4,098,808, but The Straits Times of 27 June 1928, quoted the cost of S$4,750,000, as the eventual bill.

A 1928 postcard showing the Fullerton Building;

Another view of the Fullerton Building in 1929;

– 1928 : The General Post Office moved in 2 weeks after the completion of the Fullerton Building. The GPO used the basement and two lower floors as sorting rooms, postal halls and offices. It utilized the waterfront along Collyer Quay to transport the post onto ships. A historic tunnel under Fullerton Road was used to load the mail onto waiting ships, bound for the world. The tunnel still exists today.

Other Tenants;

The Singapore Chamber of Commerce was the first tenant to move in. Here were the headquarters of the international trade organization.

The Singapore Club occupied the upper floors of the building. The Club’s 6,968 sq. m (75,000 sq. feet) of facilities included dining rooms, club rooms, billiards and card rooms, and, sleeping accommodation on the upper floors.

– The other early occupants of Fullerton Building included The Exchange and Chamber of Commerce.

Government Office Tenants;

– Other early Government Office tenants included the Marine Surveyor and Marine Department, Imports and Export Department, and the offices of Chief Health Officer, the Government Vetinerary Surgeon, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forest departments. Other departments of the Ministry of Finance were also based here.

A 1930s photo of the General Post Office besides the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank;

A 1935 photo of the General Post Office. Note the British Crown above the word General Post Office;

– 1942 : During the war, Governor Shenton Thomas and Lady Thomas stayed in the sleeping quarters in when the Government House (now the Istana) was hit by artillery and aerial attacks. During the last days before the British surrender of Singapore to the Japanese in 1942, the building was used as a hospital with make-shift operation rooms to treat British soldiers.

Below shows the Japanese soldiers marching in at Fullerton Square in 1942;

Above photo credit : Imperial War Museum

During the Japanese Occupation, Fullerton Building was the headquarters of the Japanese Military Administration. Singaporeans may remember that the Japanese demanded $50 million from the Chinese in Singapore and Malaya in atonement for the crimes committed by Chinese people against the Japanese. A cheque for $50 million was handed to Lieut-General Tomoyuki Yamashita at a ceremony in the Singapore Club at the top of Fullerton Building sometime in February 1942.

– 1950s : Since the 1950s, Fullerton Square has been the site of many election campaign rallies. 1950s was the decade with the most riots and strikes in Singapore.

Below shows the aerial photo of the Fullerton Building in the 1950s. Did you see the lighthouse on the building?

Above photo credit : Editions Didier Millet, National Archivers of Singapore

– 1958 : A lighthouse was installed on the rooftop of the Fullerton Building to guide ships out in the harbour. inactive since 1979. Round lantern with aerobeacon, originally mounted atop the Fullerton Building, which was then the General Post Office.

Below shows a 1930 aerial photo of the Fullerton Building without the Lighthouse yet;

Above credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Below shows a 1950s aerial photo with the Lighthouse on the Fullerton Building;

Above photo credit : Editions Didier Millet, National Archivers of Singapore

– 1960s : SM Goh Chok Tong used to work in this building when he was in the Economic Planning Unit of the civil service. For lunch, he was a regular at the Spartan, roof-top canteen.

– 1970 to 1995 : When the General Post Office vacated the Fullerton Building, it was taken over by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore as their headquarters from 1970s to 1995.

– 1996 to 1999 : All the tenants had moved out by 1996. The building was up for tender bids in early 1997, and the building was bought over by Sino Land, who spent S$400 million, for a full two-year restoration and redeveloped project which converted and transformed Fullerton Building to a 6-star hotel.

– 2000 to 2001 : The Fullerton Hotel was opened on May 2000 and officially launched on 1 January 2001.

Below shows the Fullerton Hotel;

Interesting isn’t it? Now take a look at the Fullerton Building with it’s skyline changes over time. I will try to find photos taken from almost the same Queen Elizabeth Walk (now known as Esplanade) of the building;

1. 1905 – 1910 : View from Queen Elizabeth Walk when the Fullerton Building was not built. This is a 1976 stamp in the Art Series launched in Singapore;

2. 1930 : A photo postcard showing the then General Post Office (Fullerton Building). Note the original color of Anderson Bridge then;

3. c1935 – Probably the later part of 1930s view of the General Post Office. Note the change in color of the bridge and the background building if any;

4. 1946 : Still not much changes in the skyline;

Above photo credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

5. 1954 : One major change in this 50s photo of the Fullerton Building. The Bank Of China was built besides it as seen in the background;

Above photo credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

6. 1960S : The photo still showing only the Bank Of China besides the Fullerton Building. Note the coconut tree in the foregroud still there since 1930s haha;

7. 1970 : Even until 1970, still not much changes;

Above photo credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

8. 2003 : Guess the major changes should be started in late 70s and 80s;

9. 2007 : This one taken by myself last year;

You may see the below poster on the changes in the skyline by URA;

Before I end this post, let’s take a look at the construction of the Fullerton Building from 1925 to 1927;

Above : 1925 – under construction.

Above : 1927 – almost complete.

Below is one very nice sketch of the Fullerton Building;

Above credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

You may read more about Fullerton Building at Sale of Fullerton Square by URA

…my apology if I left out any credits (pls let me know).

April – The Month Singaporeans Hate

Guess it’s the month that no Singaporeans like! Yes, April is the month that you must file your Income Tax return – can’t remember the date as now there is no date for me! Thanks to e-filing. Now I don’t have to do any e-filing for my wife and myself too.

I remember when I was young and staying with my parents in the 70s, my father would visit my 6th uncle to help him to fill in his income tax return. Of course there wasn’t such thing as e-filing then. When I got married, it’s my turn to do the income tax return for my wife – and I wonder why am I tasked with this job??? Is it written in the Income Tax brochure?

So when was my first Income Tax Notice of Assessment? Since I was an Air Force Regular from 1982 to 1988, so mine was the IR8C;

Now take a look at my wife’s Original Assessment for the Year of Assessment 1988;

Notice the Merlion Logo on the right and the address of the left.

The above address still at Fullerton Building. I hate such ‘carbon copy’ type of letter, as it’s very difficult to read;

Below is my Notice of Assessment for YOA 1984. It’s ok since I was a regular and the pay is of no secret haha;

You may see the list of participating banks for GIRO payment. Some of the banks are no longer existing;

I remember in 1986, I was asked to go down to the Income Tax dept. at the Fullerton Building to settle my tax problem;

Finally got it settle via instalment payment from my salary;

Frankly I still remember at that time those income tax officers sound so unfriendly.

Below is my Notice of Assessment for the YOA 1994. Note the address is still at the Fullerton Building;

In 1994, I received a letter from the Inland Revenue (Income Tax dept) bearing the New Logo but the address still showing Fullerton Building;

And guess what the New Logo represents or means;

An early-day coin, energised by a subtle “S” curve across it. Read more from here.

Here is a brief history of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS);

– Singapore Income Tax Department was created in 1947.

– Following self-government in 1959, the Inland Revenue Department was formed in 1960.

– When Singapore attained independence on 9 August 1965, substantial changes were made to the Income Tax Act, which came into effect on 1 January 1966.

– In 1970 that year saw the appointment of the first local Commissioner, Mr Hsu Tse-Kwang.

– On 1 September 1992, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) was established by legislation as a statutory board under the Ministry of Finance.

Detail of history here.

Credit : IRAS

Below shows the first Notice of Assessment for the year 1996 with the New Logo and New Address at Newton;

The other thing I hate most about the Income Tax is the reading of all those enclosed brochures;

And I really hate filling in this;

I’m glad that they started e-Filing for Income Tax. Initially though there was some hiccups but now everything is fine.

Now it’s even better, no more e-filing for me and my wife!

For those that been to the new Inland Revenue Building at Newton, you will surely see this ‘Ring Fountain’ outside the building;

Below is the photo during the Ground Breaking Ceremony of the Inland Revenue Building in 1992;


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May 2008