A torrential downpour resulted in the heaviest rainfall for the decade. Rainfall during the 24-hour period – at 512.4 mm – was the highest ever recorded. The SAF, together with the Police, were called upon to handle one of Singapore’s biggest flood rescue and evacuation operations. Equipped with standard rescue procedures and the raw enthusiasm of our servicemen, the Ministry of Defence Operations Centre implemented the contingency plan, Operation Menolong. As most of the roads were impassable to heavy traffic, assault boats and dinghies were deployed to evacuate residents to higher ground. At Potong Pasir alone, more than 200 villagers were evacuated and housed in the Kim Keat community centre; others were housed in St. Andrew’s School. The boats were used to evacuate people from four other sub-merged areas – Kampong San Teng, Lorong Buangkok, Lorong Kudang and Lorong Chuan.
Dr. Lim Hock Siew was released from prison, but was put on exile in Pulau Tekong, as small island off Singapore. While in Pulau Tekong, he read medical books and became the only doctor for the few thousand villagers on the island. In appreciation, grateful villagers would ply him and his wife with durians, prawns and fish.
An explosion occurred in the engine room of the Greek tanker Spyros, at Jurong shipyard. The SAF was asked to assist in evacuating the victims to the hospitals. Immediately, a task force of servicemen, ambulances and RSAF helicopters was mobilised to assist in the casualty evacuation operations. Apart from ferrying the injured by ambulances, the SAF also mobilised RSAF helicopters to ferry victims in critical condition to the Singapore General Hospital. The Spyros disaster which claimed the lives of 80 people and injured many others.
The first Drama Festival was held between 1 – 13 August 1978 as part of National Day celebrations. It was launched by the Ong, Teng Cheong, acting Minister of Culture, at the Victoria Theatre and the first play was Ping Sheh Peking troupe’s Madam White Snake. It was funded by Nanyang Siang Pau with at least 15 plays performed in the four national languages, profiling the talent of local troupes. Despite some criticisms over poor acting, the response to the festival marked a new stage in local drama production.