Journey Through Our Public Utilities

Do you still remember the above envelope (this one about 20 years ago) ? Now let me show you the back of the envelope;

This should remind you of the old Public Utilities Board bill! And if I’m not wrong, it’s around the 80s period. This can be seen in the Save Water Campaign on the front of the envelope. The Save Water Campaign was by PUB in 1985.

Credit : Challenge

Our utilities bills include water, electricity and gas were in charged by Public Utilities Board (PUB) then. The Public Utilities Board (公用事业局) was set up in 1963, to take over the functions from former City Council to supply water, electricity and gas. Of course at that time, PUB logo was;

Credit : PICAS, National Archives of Singapore

The logo was later changed in the late 80s ( probably in 1988 ) to;

Credit : PICAS, National Archives of Singapore.

You can see the changes in the logos from simple pictorial form to the icons type. The blue and black semi-circle probably represents water and gas while the red “resistor like” represents electricity – I think so hehe.

So what comes before the PUB? Soon after the founding of Singapore by Raffles, municipal matters were under the jurisdiction of the magistrates and later a Municipal Committee was established in 1851. What are municipal matters then? The municipal matters include transportation and infrastructure needs. It was only in 1856 that a proper Municipal Council was set up. It looked after street lighting, water supply, and even maintenance of roads, in 1864 gas supply and 1906 electricity. The Municipal Health Department was opened in 1887 and the Municipality also controlled public transport provided by the Jinrikishas.

As a British colony, Singapore was conferred city status by a royal charter from King George VI IN 1951. The original Municipal Council was therefore renamed as City Council. It was only in 1965, upon Singapore’s secession from Malaysia, the City Council was abolished. 

The Singapore Gas Company (founded in 1861), a London Company carried on business in Singapore for 38 years sold its business to the Municipality in 1901. The Municipal Gas Department was housed on the ground level of the Amber Mansions;

Credit : PICAS, National Archives of Singapore.

In 1901, the Municipal Commissioners took over the operation and rapidly extended the gas supply network. By 1940, gas was used more for cooking and water heating than for lighting. Of course by 1963, PUB took over the gas department as well.

As Singapore is very good in making simple things complicated hehe, the Electrictiy and Gas Departments of the Public Utilities Board were corporatised to form the Singapore Power in 1995. Singapore Power (新加坡能源有限公司) is the only electricity company in Singapore, and is also one of the largest corporations in Singapore.

SP Services is a subsidiary of the Singapore Power Group. SP Services provides billing and payment collection on behalf of other utilities service providers such as the Public Utilities Board, City Gas and refuse collectin companies. City Gas was formed as a divested entity from PowerGas Ltd on 2 January 2002. Today, as a fully owned subsidiary of CitySpring Infrastructure Management Pte Ltd, its core business is to produce and retail town gas to all domestic, commercial and industrial customers.

So that’s how our current utilities bill envelope look like;

and our new PUB logo and slogan;

Credit : PUB

PUB now concentrates on Water business haha. As the national water agency, PUB is responsible for the collection, production, distribution and reclamation of water in Singapore.


7 Responses to “Journey Through Our Public Utilities”

  1. 1 Victor Koo Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    LKK, if you still have a copy of the old account statement, kindly post it here, if you don’t mind. It will be interesting to see how much were the electricity, water and gas tariffs more than 2 decades ago compared to today’s prices.

  2. 2 laokokok Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Hi Victor, I would like to until I find my lost file on that statements. Funny, some of my files are missing….

  3. 3 Lam Chun See Thursday, July 10, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    LKK. You missed out a very important piece of info. How can you not educate the younger people about what PUB stands for ……

    Pay Until Broke!

  4. 4 laokokok Friday, July 11, 2008 at 7:48 am

    You are right Chun See. Since May this year, my bill jumps from $150+ to hit $200 mark! With no additional headcount, and no change in usage, I wonder why?

    Every thing now is Pay Until Broke!

  5. 5 Victor Koo Friday, July 11, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    >Funny, some of my files are missing….

    Hmm… I wonder who would want to “take away” your files as they are not worth any money. (The value they have is a nostagic one but that can be priceless to some people.) Most likely it’s because a Laokokok mind forgot where the files are misplaced. Haha… only kidding.

    I read in the news that a lot of people are also complaining that their PUB bills shot up recently. At about the same time, PUB introduced a new billing system. I hope the two incidents are not connected.

  6. 6 laokokok Monday, July 14, 2008 at 9:11 am

    You are absolutely right Victor. I’m worry I might have thrown some “lost” files away in the past…

    BTW, is there a new billing system by PUB recently???

  7. 7 Victor Koo Friday, July 18, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    I read that there may be more competition for Power Supply here:

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