Photo 1: City Hall on race day.
Wait! Let’s rewind the clock and see what else we could have over-looked. A memorable event for me was in 1962 when we were taught by teachers to sing a special jingle because Singapore was going to be a part of Malaysia, together with the Federation of Malaya, Sarawak and British North Borneo. This jingle was broadcast on the air-wave and became an instant hit with listeners. To celebrate the occasion Malam Malaysia was held at City Hall and there were thousands of people on the Padang. That night, we heard for the first time Malaysia Forever. People of my generation would surely know these catchy lyrics.
Photo 2: This jingle was sold as a 45 rpm record although Radio Singapura (predecessor of Mediacorp) sold the long playing record version comprising 6 Malay and 6 English songs about Malaysia. The choir was from Marymount School.
Let’s get together, Sing a happy song, Malaysia forever, Ten million strong.
Land of the free, Marching as one. Ready to share in every way, So let’s get it done!
We’re all in the same boat, Steady as you go. Let’s pull together, Everybody row – row, row, row.
It’s right, It’s the answer ,There’s no other way, To be good neighbours, Everyday Malaysia Forever.
Evermore more, United for liberty, Land of the happy people, Just you wait and see.
We’re ready for merger, Let’s open the door, To Malaysia forever, Ever more!
Photo 3: Public entertainment on City Hall Steps. City Hall was transformed into a stage and the spectators sat or stood on the Padang.
Just for December 1959 alone, City Hall achieved a number of milestones. It was the site for the inauguration for the first local-born Yang di-Pertuan Negara (Head of State) - the first Yang di-Pertuan Negara was a British. There was the new Singapore flag and the new Coat of Arms. That night, Singapore heard a strong 300 school choir sing our Majullah Singapura when we would have traditionally sang God Save the Queen. I think that was the first time we heard loud shouts of Merdeka throughout the Padang.
To achieve a new spirit of co-operation and national will in a post-colonial Singapore, the new Ministry of Culture was created; bringing together the departments which had hitherto been under different authorities in a Colonial Singapore. The ministry launched the Aneka Ragam Ra’ayat (People’s Outdoor Concert series) and the one at the City Hall certainly dwarfed everything else.
Photo 4: Student activists demanding education reforms
In later years, there was even a student-led disturbance at City Hall. Are you familiar with the history of Ngee Ann Polytechnic? This Poly could well have been the third university like Nantah and University of Singapore, if not for the Thong Saw Park Report. In November 1966, Ngee Ann College students clashed with the police and several people were hurt or arrested. What else can you remember?