As 2015 (and the ever ubiquitous SG50) draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on the times that put our Little Red Dot on the world map, or united us as one nation. Break out those social studies textbooks as we countdown the top 15 moments we will never forget in Singapore!
1. Lee Kuan Yew cries on national TV
(Source: International Business Times)
It’s not easy knowing that an entire nation’s fate rests on your shoulders. When political and economic differences led to racial riots in 1964, Singapore and Malaysia decided to part ways. As a tearful Lee Kuan Yew announced the split, his tears captured a man’s vulnerability and urgency for Singapore to thrive in her fledging years.
2. The Maria Hertogh race riots
A court’s decision to return Maria Hertogh, who had been raised by Muslims, to her birth parents sparked a race riot that lasted 2 days. The violence and chaos taught us the importance of racial harmony in order to prevent a similar incident from happening.
3. National Day Parade in 1968
(Source: Straits Times)
While we’ve been blessed with good weather for the past few National Days, it rained like cats and dogs on our parade in 1968. What did the contingents do? March on!
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4. Hijacking of Singapore Airlines flight SQ 117
In 1991, a Singapore Airlines flight was hijacked shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur. While negotiations were taking place, the elites from Special Operations Forces stormed the plane and rescued everyone on the plane. #BADASS.
5. Queen Elizabeth II visits Singapore
(Source: Singapore Memory)
Specifically, a 3-room flat in Toa Payoh. She also spent more time in the kitchen than anywhere else too, apparently.
6. Lee Kuan Yew calls out the CIA for plotting against the PAP
(Source: The Wall Street Journal)
In 1960, a CIA plot against the PAP for suspicions of close ties with pro-communist groups was uncovered, leading to an attempted bribe of US$3.3 million for Lee Kuan Yew’s personal gain if he kept mum. Instead, he asked for 33 million in aid for Singapore.
And that’s not all – later on, he even called them out for it, refusing to bow down to the State Department’s denial! R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
7. First successful ascent of Mt Everest
No mountain’s too high, even if you can’t find it in Singapore. On 25 May 1998, two members of the Singapore Everest team successfully made it to the top of Mt Everest – their second after a nine-hour climb.
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8. McDonald’s Hello Kitty mania
Ah, who can forget the time when the whole nation lost its cool over a set of limited edition Hello Kitty plush toys? Yes, we’re talking about those kitties. Don’t worry, we won’t judge you if you queued – yes, even those who pretended they were queuing for their wives and girlfriends.
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9. When NEWater was released
Forget hover boards and wearable shoes – recycled water is the way to go for the future. And although many balked at the idea of drinking “toilet water”, it has become widely recognised for contributing to our water-scarce country.
10. When bar top dancing was finally approved
Back in our more conservative days, bar top dancers had to fight tooth and nail with the authorities to be able to do their thing at nightclubs across the island. Needless to say, when the ban was lifted, party-goers were absolutely liberated.
11. Singapore’s first Pink Dot gathering
Held at Hong Lim Park, Singapore’s first public event in support of the LGBT community was a landmark move in favour of activists.
12. Every MRT breakdown ever
(Source: Channel News Asia)
Because really, when will we ever let that go?
13. Botanic Gardens becomes a UNESCO World Heritage Site
(Source: Your Singapore)
1 month before Singapore’s 50th birthday, the Botanic Gardens became Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Whaddup!
14. Singaporeans pay tribute to Lee Kuan Yew
Never has a nation been more united than when in grief. When one of Singapore’s founding fathers passed away in March, thousands of Singaporeans came together to pay their last respects, even queueing for hours for just five minutes in Parliament House.
15. SIA’s SG50 plane flies past the National Day Parade
It’s not everyday you see an aeroplane fly over the Marina Bay area, much less an SG50 themed one at this year’s National Day Parade. Flown by Captain Gerard Yeap, the flypast was a first in its history.
And there you have it! 15 unforgettable moments in Singapore’s history. What defining moments will we see in the next 50 years?
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