Year 1961

Changi Prison escape drama

Friday, 8th December 1961

Nine convicts with lead pipes fought a desperate 50-minute battle with prison warders before they were subdued in a dramatic escape bid at Changi Prison today. Five convicts were badly injured in the fight. They were admitted to the General Hospital in serious condition. Two warders were on the dangerously ill list.

School Boycott

Monday, 27th November 1961

A boycott by several hundred students today delayed the Secondary Four examination by an hour. Student pickets waited at gates and approach roads to all 18 examination centres. The boycott was in protest against changes in the Chinese secondary education system. Attendance was lowest in Seh Chuan High School (Bukit Timah Road) where only 11 out of 123 entrants turned up. During the boycott, 30 per cent of the students missed the examination. However, a large number of pupils across the island sat for it.

First Children's Day

Monday, 23rd October 1961

The day chosen for the celebration was Monday 23 October. The date was in keeping with the United Nation's Children's Day which fell on 22 October but since it was a Sunday, the celebration was held the following day, on Monday 23. The Ministry of Education estimated 37,000 school children in Singapore would be celebrating Children's Day for the first time that year. Children's Day was marked as a school holiday.

First Singapore Grand Prix

Sunday, 17th September 1961

The first Singapore Grand Prix was held in the 3.023 miles long Upper Thomson Road Street Circuit. A Singapore Resident, Ian Barnwell who is also a Temerloh Planter, won the race in his Aston Martin DB3S. He took home a Gold Trophy and $1,000 cash. Second was Saw Kim Thiat in his Lotus Eleven Climax and Dick Clinkard came in third in his Austin Healey.

Lim Hock Siew Left Hospital For Politics

Wednesday, 6th September 1961

Dr Lim Hock Siew, of the Tan Tock Seng Hospital, resigned from Government service to join Barisan Socialis. He was also well-known in left-wing political circles as leading members of the University Socialist Club which he helped found in 1953. Dr. Lim was a former editor of "The Fajar" and at one chairman of the University of Malaya Students' Union.

PAP Assemblymen defected

Thursday, 20th July 1961

21 PAP Assemblymen lead by Doctor Lee Siew Choh defected to Pro-Communist Party. They later form a new Barisan Sosialis Party.

Singapore and Malaysia Merger Proposal

Saturday, 27th May 1961

Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Malayan Prime Minister, proposed closer political and economic co-operation between the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, North Borneo and Brunei in the form of a merger. The main terms of the merger, agreed on by him and Lee Kuan Yew, were to have central government responsibility for defence, foreign affairs and internal security, but local autonomy in matters pertaining to education and labour.

Bukit Ho Swee Fire

Thursday, 25th May 1961

The Bukit Ho Swee Fire kills four people and destroys 2,200 attap houses. The fire made at least 16,000 homeless. Most of the attap houses in the squatter settlement were destroyed as the fire spread quickly by the strong winds. The root cause of this disaster remains unknown.

Ong Eng Guan won Hong Lim by-election

Saturday, 29th April 1961

Ong Eng Guan registered a new party, the United People's Party (UPP) , he won the Hong Lim by-election defeating PAP candidate Jek Yuan Thong, which proved a blow to the PAP for the leaders. Ong Eng Guan was expelled from the PAP less than a year earlier.