The Singapore Airlines flight SQ 117 took off from Subang Airport in Kuala Lumpur with 129 passengers and crew onboard at 1815 hrs. Four passengers who claimed to be Pakistanis took control of the plane when it was enroute to Singapore. The plane landed and parked at Changi Airport’s Runway One at 2215 hrs. The hijackers claimed to be members of the Pakistan People’s Party. They wanted the release of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s husband. The hijackers issued a five-minute deadline at 27 March 0645 hrs after which they threatened to kill one passenger every ten minutes if their demands were not acceded to. SAF Elite Commandos stormed the plane, killing four Pakistani hijackers and freeing all passengers and crew. The rescue of SQ 117 was over in just 30 seconds and ended at 0650 hrs.
Mr Harold Wilson, the then Prime Minister of UK, announced the intention to withdraw all of Britain’s 35,000 troops stationed in Singapore by end 1971. This shocked the nation as it was less than three years into independence from Malaysia. The situation had Mr Lee Kuan Yew saying, “If you go out too fast, I will just have to hire mercenaries rather than have a power vacuum.”
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The first National Service, compulsory military training, call-up of 9,000 youths for the independent nation was initiated on this day the then Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew (LKY). The cream of Singapore’s youths would have to serve two years in the Armed Forces on leaving school. Eligible for call-up were those whose 18th birthday fell on or after 1 January 1967.