Archive for the 'On Government Services' Category

My Wedding 19 Years Ago Was A By-Election Year

Come this 7 May 2011 is Singapore General Election again! It’s polling day on this Saturday and it’s probably the first time for many young residents in Marine Parade GRC too. For almost 2 decades (19 years ago) since the 1992 By-Election, the Marine Parade GRC had been a walkover. My parents in their 80s this year, who are still staying in Haig Road (under Marine Parade GRC), will be going for poll this Saturday finally.

Why was there a By-Election in 1992? The 1992 By-Election was called after Lim Chee Onn of PAP, retired from politics to return to the private sector. What’s so special about this By-Election then?

– It’s the first GRC By-Election.

– It was called by the then Prime Minister Goh C.T. At that time, both the DPMs, Mr Lee Hsien Loong and Mr Ong Teng Cheong, came down with cancer at the same time.

– To allow WP chief J. B. Jeyaretnam to contest an election upon his 10 years ban ending just after the 1991 General Election. But on nomination day, WP failed to file its nomination due to the tardiness of a candidate.

– For SDP, we saw Dr. Chee Soon Juan (30 then) first introduced to Singapore politics, while Teo Chee Hean (37 then) came into PAP Marine Parade GRC via this By-Election.

Credit : 新明日报, SPH

The PAP won that By-Election in 1992 with 48,965 votes (72.9%) against SDP, NSP and SJP. In 1991 General Election, PAP won with 51,685 votes (77.2%) against just SJP only. So how will this year 2011 General Election result be for Marine Parade GRC? It will be interesting to watch NSP vs PAP in this GRC especially with their young candidates Nicole Seah and Tin Pei Ling respectively.

Credit : 新明日报, SPH

We had our traditional wedding planned a year ago (need to book restaurant in advance, etc) and didn’t expect the By-Election to clash with our wedding. Of course we had to re-schedule and made preparation for going to the polling centre. My wife and I both had to go to a different polling centres as she was staying at Geylang Road and I was at Haig Road.

We went to my wife’s polling centre at Maha Bodhi School located at Geylang Lor 34 first.

After that, we rushed back to Block 4, Haig Road where my polling centre was;

We were then interviewed by the reporters after the voting;

Well General Election may be once every 4 or 5 years, but By-Election is not very common and to have it clash with your wedding…I think it’s really something very memorable.

What my father wrote;

“A little man may cast a great shadow”

The HDB Logo

When I showed some friends the above logo, some may thought that it was those fake HDB logo that those bogus contractors used to cheat housewives into renovating their flats. No, it is NOT those fake HDB logo, but the old HDB logo.

Most of us may know that HDB was established on 1 Feb 1960 as a statutory board responsible for Singapore’s public housing. It’s objective then was of course to build low-cost housing for low-income Singaporeans to tackle the massive housing shortage inherited from the colonial government.

So when was this logo first in used? I’ve no idea too hehe. All that I knew was the logo was already there in 1965. See the old logo on the banner during the balloting ceremony in 1965;

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

It was probably still being used through the 70s as shown in the 1978 balloting;

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

I suspect the new logo was used in 1980 as can be seen the old and new logo was used in the same year. The old logo was still used in the 1980 Bras Basah Complex Balloting exercise;

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

But the new logo was also used in 1980 in the following.  The 1980 Kreta Ayer Balloting exercise;

And the construction sign board at Kerbau Rd in 1980;

Credit : Above 2 – National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Before I end, here is the HDB new or current logo since 1980;

Notice the difference between the old one?

Our TV Licence Story

When I was ‘digging’ some old archives at my parents home at Haig Rd during the MUP (Major or Main Upgrading Programme) last month, I found my parents TV licence. Here is a little story of the TV licence and our TV licence history.

In most countries, a TV Licence is required for the reception of television broadcasts. It is a form of tax revenue to fund public broadcasting, thus allowing public broadcasters to transmit programmes without commercials. Though Mediacorp is not a public broadcaster, we still need to pay our TV Licence. Yes, it’s S$110 annual licence fee and still plenty of TV commercials to watch. Don’t ask me why, as they have explained before – just take it or leave it hehe.

I think my father got the TV licence for our home at Haig Road in the 70s, since we shifted in to our new home then in around 1976/77. Below is my father’s TV licence in 1977;

Note the TV licence fee in 1977 was $36 then. If I did not remember wrongly, ours was the Black and White TV (Monochrome) and as you can see from the above notice, there was only one flat fee for TV licence then. So maybe Color TV still not available yet. Also note the IRA (Inland Revenue Authority) at Fullerton Building was the collecting agent for the TV licence then.

See the changes in about 10 years later (1985);

This time the envelope containing the TV licence had the SBC (Singapore Broadcasting Corporation) logo.

Of course by then, we finally got our color TV and the fee was $80 for the color TV licence.

Note some changes above. They have separate TV licence fee for Monochrome ($36) and Color ($80) TV licence. The collecting agent seems to have changed to SBC (Radio and Television Licensing Unit at the Cuppage Centre.

Again a few years later (see the envelope in 1988), the collecting agent again changed back to IRA;

Finally I got my new home at Tampines in 1993. So I need to apply for my own TV licence in 1994. SBA (Singapore Broadcasting Authority) was already formed then and my application for licence was to SBA;

Let’s take a look at the licence in 1996;

The fee for Monochrome TV licence was $40 while that of Color TV licence was $110. So in the 90s, there was still a need to split between Monochrome and Color TV licence, probably still some are using Monochrome in the 90s.

I remember sometime in 1998, the TV licence was collected together with my property tax by the IRA (by GIRO instalment);

And in 2006, the MDA (Media Development Authority) took over the TV licence;

Of course now the envelope for the TV licence also change;

And here is a little infos from them;

So now you know why don’t ask me why TV licence is needed in Singapore….hehe

Frankly until now, I’m wondering if IRA is still the collecting agent for the TV licence all the while and has not changed at all. I’m not too sure…


When I was searching for some old documents in my drawer, I came across my old SRP. You may ask what’s “SRP”, it’s “Singapore Restricted Passport”. The younger generation may not be aware of it but it’s our blue passport for travel to West Malaysia only.

After Singapore separated from Malaysia on 8 August 1965, freedom of movement existed between the two countries for a short period of time. Later 2 checkpoints were built, one at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and the other at Woodlands Checkpoint. Malaysians entering Singapore had to produce their identity cards until passports were used on both sides in July 1967.

Thus from 1 July 1967, this Singapore Restricted Passport was issued to facilitate travel to West Malaysia only. So to travel to West Malaysia, the Singapore restricted passport and the Singapore Certificate of Identity was needed. The Singapore Restricted Passport Centre was set up in South Quay. It moved to Outram Road in 1976 and closed its doors on 31 December 1994. I believed the General Post Office was given the task to first issue this Special Causeway Passport around May to June 1967;

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

A passport office was opened at Joo Chiat Complex on the fourth floor on 5 Nov 1984. This office issued both international and restricted passports and was closed on Sep 1999. Due to falling demand and the introduction of the new passport system, the SRP was abolished. SRPs were no longer issued from 1 Jan 1999 and were valid for travel until 31 Dec 1999.

When was the last time I used it? Nov 1988 and that was the year I completed my 6 yrs contract with the Air Force. Now I remember I first applied for this Restricted Passport to go to Malaysia when I was 17 yrs old. Probably had a trip there with some classmates after Sec.4 while waiting to go Poly.

This passport was also used when I drove in to Johore Bahru with my camp mates during my signed-on days in the Air Force. Rather convenient to drive to  JB from Tengah Air Base. The thing I hate most is filling in this card;

Why? Because I always have problem in filling the “Last place of embarkation” and “Next Destination”.

I remember my SRP was renewed once at this Joo Chiat Complex in 1985. But where did I get my SRP from in 1979? Is it Empress Place or Outram Road (which part of Outram, I really don’t know. Maybe Peter and Chun See will know)?

Below shows Joo Chiat Complex in 1985;

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

For more details, read here.

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.

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;

STB To SingTel

Credit : National Archives of Singapore

This was the first type of phone my Godparents had in the 60s/70s. No choice of color for the phones back then, I think. Not many households are able to afford a telephone; my parents do not have one too.

I remember my Godparents got engaged those telephone cleaning lady to clean the phone every now and then. The cleaning lady would carried a hard bag like those cosmetic makeup bag, containing all her cleaning kids. She would changed the white color mouth piece ‘filter’ and then sprayed some ‘fragrance’ onto it. And they wore those gloves when doing the cleaning of telephone.

So what does STB stands for? It stands for Singapore Telephone Board. And its logo back then has a swallow bird – don’t know why?

Even the telephone carried the logo, as shown on the telephone above.

Back then the bills envelopes are like this;

See the above envelope. So in 1971, it was still STB and the postage back then was 6 cents!

OK, Singapore had its first telephone service in 1879, almost 128 years! The British were providing the telephone services until 1955. In 1955, STB was formed.

TAS (Telecommunications Authority of Singapore) provided overseas services while STB on local services. In 1974, both merged to form Singapore Telecom.

So when did we first have our push button phone? That should be August 1970. By early 1980s, all rotary phones were replaced by push button phone. Regret didn’t keep one of those rotary phone or the first generation of the push button phone with the Telecom logo at the bottom.

Here is the First Day Cover for the 100 years of Telephone Service in 1974;

So what will be the next change be?


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