Headlines that shook Singapore (since 1955)

Below is a collection of some of the biggest news headlines that shook the Singapore society since 1955, when Singapore was given self-governance (Extending the timeline from the previous version of “1970 to Present”). The headlines are categorised into Social Unrest, Politics, Accident, Terrorism, Disaster, Finance, Public Health and Others.

Please feel free to contribute and I will update accordingly.

Self Governance (1955-1961)

12 May 1955 – Hock Lee Bus Strike
(Social Unrest)

Protesting against long hours, poor benefits and working conditions, the workers of Singapore Bus Workers Union (SBWU) organised a peaceful demonstration on 23 April 1955.

Large number of drivers were dismissed by Hock Lee Bus Company, who in turn protested by locking themselves in the garages at Alexandra Road. Soon, students from Chinese middle schools took sympathy of the drivers and joined in the protests. The government viewed the strike as pro-communist and anti-colonial.

The mob grew to a strength of 2000 and riots broke out between the angry protesters and the police, resulting in four deaths and 33 injuries. Two policemen, a student and a reporter were killed in the conflicts.

Negotiation between the bus company owners and the union took place on 14 May before bus services were resumed two days later.

24 October 1956 – Chinese Middle Schools Riots
(Social Unrest)

When the Chief Minister of Singapore David Marshall resigned in 1956, Lim Yew Hock took over and implemented tough measures on pro-communist organisations. The Singapore Chinese Middle School Students Union (SCMSSU) was forced to close down.

Students gathered at the Chinese High School and Chung Cheng High School for protests, and refused to soften their stand even after their parents’ persuasion. On 26 October, police forced their ways into the schools and dispersed the students using tear gas.

The angry students took to the streets, throwing stones at the police and overturning the cars. Curfews were imposed by the government, as more than 900 were arrested. The riots caused 13 lives and left more than 100 injured. The detainees were released in 1959 after the People’s Action Party (PAP) won the election to form the government.

10 June 1957

After the Second World War, Christmas Island was placed under the administration of the Colony of Singapore. Phosphate was discovered, leading to a booming mining industry which required large number of labourers from Singapore.

By 1957, with the independence of Singapore becoming more imminent, the British proposed the transfer of Christmas Island to Australia. Taking consideration of the losses in phosphate mining, Australia compensated the self-government of Singapore a total of 2.9 million pounds. The transfer took effect on 1 October 1958.

This event contributed indirectly to the political downfall of Second Chief Minister of Singapore Lim Yew Hock (1914-1984), who was blamed by the public for his lack of effort in securing the sovereignty of Christmas Island, even though Singapore never truly had the ownership of Christmas Island.

5 April 1958

A large fire swept through Kampong Koo Chye, located at Lorong 3 Geylang. Most of the wooden houses in the kampong were burnt down, resulting in multiple casualties and thousands homeless. The Lorong Tiga Estate houses were built rapidly to rehouse the disaster victims.

25 May 1961 – Bukit Ho Swee Fire

A disaster that had a direct impact on the development of public housing in our country, Bukit Ho Swee Fire took away a life, injured dozens and made at least 16,000 homeless. Most of the attap houses in the squatter settlement were destroyed as the fire spread rapidly by the strong winds in the late afternoon.

The self-government of Singapore acted promptly over the next four years by building many low-cost public flats in Queenstown and other estates to reallocate the refugees. The root cause of this disaster, the largest fire ever in Singapore’s history, however remains unknown till this day.

7 May 1962

Two young gang members of “The Little Black Wind Gang” kidnapped a 12-year-old boy at Karikal Lane and demanded a $100,000 ransom. See Ah Wang, the boy’s father and a prominent Chinese contractor, eventually paid only $6,000 for his release after 13 days.

The kidnappers Robert Tang Keng Lock and Lim Kheng Tiong were caught three months later, and were sentenced to life with 10 strokes of cane.

Merger with Malaysia (1962-1965)

2 February 1963

Under “Operation Coldstore”, 111 people deemed anti-government leftists with a plan to build a communist Singapore were arrested and detained.

12 July 1963
(Social Unrest)

Prison riots erupted at Pulau Senang caused deaths of four prison officers, including Daniel Stanley Dutton, the Superintendent in charged of the island. More than 50 rioters were trialed, with 18 prisoners sentenced to death.

27 August 1963

Sunny Ang (1939-1967) was sentenced to death after he was found guilty of murdering bar waitress Jenny Cheok Cheng Kid for her insurance.

In August 1963, Ang, a rich playboy-turned-bankrupt, brought Jenny, who was insured for a total of $450,000, to Sisters’ Islands for diving. The body was never found.

21 July 1964 – Prophet Muhammad Birthday Riots
(Social Unrest)

During the merging with Malaysia, the Singapore society was filled with unstable racial, religious and political elements.

On 21 July 1964, tens of thousands of Malays gathered at Padang to celebrate Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday. During their march to Geylang, the groups got into conflicts with the police, which worsened to riots by the evening. The government had to impose curfews, but 36 people died in the violent events. More than 3000 were arrested, while the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) of Malaysia and People’s Action Party (PAP) of Singapore pointed fingers at each other.

Another major riot happened again in September, when a Malay trishaw-driver was suspected to be murdered by a group of Chinese gangsters in Geylang Serai. The series of racial riots and violence played an important part for Singapore to withdraw from the merging of one Malaysia.

10 March 1965 – MacDonald House Bombing

During the peak of Konfrontasi (1962-1966) between Indonesia and Malaysia, Singapore became an victim of terrorism when Indonesia sent two commandos to plant a bomb at the MacDonald House (formerly known as Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank Building).

Then Indonesian president Sukarno was openly opposed to the merging of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei, and ordered armed attacks in East Malaysia, incited revolts in Brunei and carried out sabotage activities in West Malaysia and Singapore.

There were dozens of bombing in Singapore, and the one at MacDonald House was the most serious of all as two bank employees were killed and 33 injured. The two Indonesian saboteurs were caught and hanged in 1968.

5 August 1965

Some of Singapore’s most notorious kidnappers and gunmen Morgan Teo, Oh Kim Kee and Lim Bah Lim escaped after killing an inspector in an exchanged gunfire with the police at Siang Lim Park. Both Morgan Teo and Lim Bah Lim were eventually killed by the police and Gurkhas after weeks of raids.

Post-Independence (1966-1970)

29 October 1967

Rumours spread among hundreds of Singaporean Chinese that the disease of koro (shrinking penis) was caused by eating pork inoculated with anti-swine-fever vaccine. As many as 97 Chinese men rushed to the emergency department of Singapore General Hospital in one day. The rumours faded away after about one month.

14 July 1968

More than 10 villagers from Kampong Bereh ventured into a prohibited area to pick rambutans during a live artillery exercise at the Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute (SAFIT) Firing Ground at Pasir Laba. Four of the trespassers were killed, while nine were left injured.

31 May to 6 June 1969 – Seven-Day Racial Riots
(Social Unrest)

The Singapore society remained shaky after independence in 1965. On 13 May 1969, the largest riot erupted in Kuala Lumpur (KL), capital of Malaysia, due to the rising tensions between the Malaysian Malays and Malaysian Chinese.

Soon, rumours began to spread here that the Singaporean Malays, a minority in Singapore, would be subjected to revenge after Malaysian Chinese were unfairly treated by the Malaysian government. Chinese secret societies began plans to attack the Malay-majority Jalan Ubi and Jalan Kayu. The Malay triads retaliated by burning Chinese shophouses in Geylang.

The Internal Security Department (ISD) of Singapore worked with the police to quash all conflicts, but the seven-day riots still caused at least four deaths and 80 injuries. The mounting tensions between the two races continued for another couple of years, but the government made efforts to ensure such high level of violence would not happen again.

11 December 1969

The worst floods in 35 years saw the Hari Raya holiday ruined when heavy thunderstorms swept Singapore and disrupted electricity, water and telephone services. Trees were uprooted and landslides occurred. Almost three-quarters of the island were affected by the rising floodwater, resulting in 3 deaths.

8 February 1970

22-year-old Susan Lim of The Crescendos, a popular local band in the sixties, was swept away by strong waves during a holiday trip at the Kemaman beach at Trengganu. Her body was never recovered. With the loss of their lead singer, The Crescendos disbanded and never regrouped again.

23 April 1970

The Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) planted red flags and a booby-trap explosive at a playground at 10½ milestone Changi Road, causing the death of a 7-year-old girl and injury of a 9-year-old boy. In the same evening, two homemade bombs by CPM were found at Haji Lane. Another bomb was discovered at an overhead bridge near Chinese High School five days later.

26 August 1970

A high-profile accident happened at the grenade range of the Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute.

During the training, a live grenade fell off the fumbling hand of recruit Kwok Seong Fan. In a bid to save Kwok Seong Fan’s life, 21-year-old Second Lieutenant Tay Siow Kai was killed when the grenade exploded before he could hurl it to safety.

Struggles of a New Nation (1971-1975)

29 December 1971

The case of “Gold Bar Murders” where businessman Ngo Cheng Poh was killed for his 120 gold bars. Seven were hanged while three escaped death due to underage.

17 September 1972

A 22-year-old seamstress Chan Chee Chan (Zeng Lizhen) was walking with her sister along Tanglin Halt when she was hit by a bullet straight at her heart. She died from the fatal wound at the Singapore General Hospital. The police suspected a sniper was hiding in one of the high-rise buildings but the case remains a mystery till today.

21 November 1972 – Robinson’s Fire

114-year-old Robinson’s Department Store at Raffles Place was destroyed in a huge fire that also claimed nine lives and property loss of $14 million.

At the time of the fire, there were some 350 employees and 200 shoppers in the departmental store. Most of the consumer goods went up in flames, and the glare of the fire was said to be visible as far as Jurong at a height of more than 60m.

07 March 1973

A black panther on the loose set off a massive hunt in the Seletar-Mandai Road area.

The three-year-old panther, acquired from Thailand just six days earlier, was one of three at the zoo which was scheduled to open the following month. It was reported missing the previous evening.

The police hunted in teams of five and eight. Just before noon, one police party opened fire when it spotted movement in the jungle along the zoo boundary. But the animal turned out to be a bear that had also escaped from the zoo a few days earlier.

12 July 1973

20-year-old Hoo How Seng, from Pontian of Johor, shot dead Detective Ong Poh Heng at East Coast Road. The wanted man, who was involved in smuggling and robbery earlier, was shot six times in the head and body after a police ambush at his Cavanagh Road flat nine days later.

26 November 1973

The worldwide oil shortage hit the Singapore stock market hard in a “Black Monday” as a total value of $1 billion was wiped out in the selling frenzy.

2 January 1974

Darkness covered 90% of Singapore, a scene not seen since the fifties, as the worst blackout since the Second World War affected Singapore’s 2 million population for more than 6 hours. More than 100 PUB engineers were recalled to restore the supply at the power stations, but the island was hit by another major blackout 4 days later.

31 January 1974 – Laju Incident

Two Japanese and two Arab terrorists of the Japanese Red Army and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) bombed Pulau Bukom’s Shell oil refinery and hijacked a ferryboat called Laju.

Holding hostages, the terrorists were granted their wish to fly to Kuwait on 7 February after days of intense negotiations. This terrorist act was later known as “Bukom Bombers” or “Laju Incident”.

August 1974

The murders of two schoolgirls shook the society in 1974. The remains of a 11-year-old Chinese girl called Sim Lay Wah and a 9-year-old Malay girl, Yatimah bte Abdul Rahman, were found in the jungles off Upper Thomson Road and Clementi Road respectively.

Due to the high profile nature of the two cases, the police had to issue advisory to school principals, teachers and parents regarding the safety of young children. A 41-year-old man was later arrested and charged.

20 December 1974

The members of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) attempted to sabotage Nanyang Manufacturing Company by planting bombs at the company’s managing director Soh Keng Chin’s bungalow at Katong. The three CPM operatives carried four bombs in their Austin car, but one of the bombs suddenly exploded at a traffic junction at Still Road, killing two and injuring one.

02 May 1975

Operation Thunderstorm kicked off when the first wave of 300 Vietnamese refugees arrived at Singapore on a vessel named Troung Hai. The refugees had escaped from Vietnam following the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War (1955-1975).

More than 8,000 refugees arrived near Singapore in two weeks. Many boats were intercepted by the Republic of Singapore Navy and the Police Coastal Guard. Some refugees were quarantined at Marine Parade and Bedok Jetty, while others were housed temporarily at Hawkins Road in Sembawang. The rest of the refugees were denied from entering Singapore.

24 July 1975

Four robbers, cladding only in swimming trunks and dabbling in black magic, terrorised Singaporeans as they committed more than 200 armed robberies, housebreaking, assaults and rape. Hiding at Bidadari Cemetery, they were not caught until 30 months later.

The four “swimming trunk” robbers were sentenced to a total of 64 years’ imprisonment.

18 August 1975

After making a suicide pact with his wife Neo Yoke Kua, 24, pork-seller Lim Back Yong, 27, drove his borrowed car to Sembawang and plunged it into the waters off Mata Jetty. At the last moment, Lim backed out and escaped, leaving his wife drowned. He was later imprisoned for 10 years for culpable homicide.

The couple had been married for eight years and had two children, and the cause of the tragedy was believed to be sparked off by a series of family problems, including Neo’s suspicion of Lim’s unfaithfulness.

Rapid Economic Growth (1976-1985)

12 October 1978 – The Spyros Disaster

It was the worst industrial accident in Singapore’s history. At about 2pm of 12 October 1978, Liberian-registered Greek tanker Spyros exploded at the Jurong shipyard, killing 76 people and injuring hundreds.

Due to the after-lunch timing, the number of casualties increased dramatically, as many workers were returning to the repair works. Many were burnt to death. Others suffered serious burns and inhalation of toxic gases.

During the seventies, safety practices at the shipyard was not strongly enforced. A repair cutting tool might have caused the sparks to ignite the vapour of the crude oil on the tanker. More safety regulations were implemented after the disaster.

2 December 1978

Huge monsoon rains caused disastrous floods in areas from Bishan to Potong Pasir. Seven person were drown, hundreds were evacuated from their homes, massive amount of crops were destroyed and thousands of pigs and poultry died. Total damage was estimated to be S$10 million.

6 January 1979

It was one of the most brutal homicides in the recent history of Singapore.

Four children of a Tan family, three boys and a girl aged between 5 and 10, were found murdered in their flat at Geylang Bahru district. They were cruelly slashed to death, with their bodies piled up in the bathroom. The case remains unsolved till this day with no suspects identified, no motives established and no weapons ever recovered.

01 November 1980

The former SIA Pilots Association (SIApa) initiated a work-to-rule action after negotiations broke down, and the month-long dispute had disrupted many international flights. The expatriate pilots had earlier demanded higher pays and better benefits. Then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew stepped in and confronted the pilots: “I don’t want to do you in, but I won’t let anybody do Singapore in”.

The pilots eventually backed down. SIApa was de-registered a year later, and 15 leaders that incited the strike were charged and convicted.

19 December 1980

National bowler Peter Lew’s mother and 3 siblings were shot dead in a mysterious murder case. The four died in their Joo Chiat home, but no traces of the killer were found as the house was not forced into and nothing was heard by the neighbours.

The case remains unsolved till this day.

January/February 1981 – Adrian Lim Murders

In 1981, the murders of two young children, Agnes Ng Siew Heok and Ghazali bin Marzuki, led to investigations that resulted in the capture of Singapore’s most notorious murderers to date: Adrian Lim, his wife Catherine Tan Mui Choo, and his mistress Hoe Kah Hong.

The murders had opened a complex case involving rituals of human sacrifice, drinking of human blood, as well as sexual perversion. During the days of the trial, crowds of people gathered outside the courts, and the proceedings were closely monitored and reported by the media.

The trial turned out to be the second-longest murder trial in Singapore, lasting as it did for about eight weeks, and unveiling disturbing accounts of rites and rituals that were both cruel and perverse. The trio were ultimately sentenced to death and were hanged on 25 November 1988.

5 February 1982

Singapore fell into total darkness as the Jurong Power Station tripped and left Singaporeans without light for 8 hours.

14 April 1982

Temperatures rose to a sizzling 35.8degC, smashing the previous record of 34.8degC set in 1948. Singaporeans began to swarm to the swimming pools and beaches, and sales of ice-cream and soft drinks soared.

29 January 1983 – Sentosa Cable Car Accident

Tragedy struck when the towering structure of a Panamanian-registered oil rig struck the cable of the Sentosa Cable Car and caused two cable cars to plunge 55m into the sea. The disaster, happened shortly after 6 pm, caused thirteen people trapped in four other cable cars between Mount Faber and Sentosa.

This accident was the first involving death or injury since the cable car system opened in 1974. A total of seven people died in the cable car tragedy.

This operation involved all the three Services of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). The Diving Unit of the Singapore Navy was assigned to conduct the underwater search for the passengers in the two cable cars which had plunged into the sea, while the 120 Squadron of the RSAF were tasked to rescue the people who were still trapped in the four cable cars as the cars could not be moved along the remaining cables.

Helicopters fitted with floodlights approached the cable cars in strong winds, with the airman winched down to enter the cable-car and pull out the rescued one by one, until all thirteen passengers were brought to safety. The rescue took three and a half hours of risky hovering in darkness and high wind conditions.

23 July 1983

andrew road robbery 1983Robert Tay Bak Hong, a 61-year-old businessman, his wife Annie Low Au Ie and their Filipino maid Jovita Virador were brutally killed in their bungalow at Andrew Road in a cold-blooded armed robbery committed by two youths.

National serviceman Sek Kim Wah and Malaysian Nyu Kok Meng, both 19, had robbed the Tay family with a M16 rifle and ammunition stolen from an army camp. Sek Kim Wah strangled and killed the three with nylon cords, and the two held their young daughter and her Mandarin tutor as hostages while the police surrounded the house for four hours. When the police stormed in, the robbers had escaped but they were caught a week later.

Sek Kim Wah was charged of murdering another two people whose bodies were found at Seletar Reservoir on 30 June 1983. He was eventually sentenced to death for murder and was hanged on 9 December 1988. Nyu Kok Meng was caught in Malaysia and was extradited to Singapore for trial. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with six strokes of cane for armed robbery.

12 December 1984 – Gruesome Curry Murder

Mr Ayakannu Marithamuthu was murdered on 12 December 1984 at the Orchard Road Presbyterian Church and his body cooked in curry before being disposed of. The case became popularly known as the “Curry Murder”.

Ayakannu’s wife Naragatha, her three brothers, mother and a sister-in-law planned the murder to put an end to Ayakannu’s continuous abuses. To destroy all traces of incriminating evidence, his body was then chopped up into pieces. The body parts were then cooked into a curry which was later tied in different plastic bags to be disposed all over the island to allay suspicions.

Initially, Naragatha and her brothers were charged in 1987 with murder, but they were unconditionally released in June 1991 as the prosecution was unable to prove that it was indeed the family members who caused Ayakannu’s death. The cooking pot in which Ayakannu’s body parts were allegedly cooked could not be found, leaving no traces of the savage act.

15 December 1984

A tragedy occurred at the Woodlands Town Centre when an arsonist burnt down two shophouses, causing the death of 10 people. According to the coroner, most of the victims died of asphyxiation.

It was the worst fire case in Singapore since 1972, when the Robinson fire claimed a total of nine lives.

23 May 1985

18-year-old Catholic Junior College student Winnifred Teo Suan Lie was the victim of a rape-murder during her jogging along Old Holland Road. The murderer was never caught.

March-June 1985

Since 1965, Singapore GDP had been growth at an average rate of 9.7% per year. It was the first time in 20 years that Singapore faced a major test when the recession hit with the growth shrunk to negative 1.7%.

The economy had shown significant decline in 1984, but the worst was in the second quarter of 1985, when the growth recorded a -10.1% on the year-on-year data. It was not until the early 1986 before Singapore slowly pulled itself out of the recession.

02-04 December 1985 – Pan-Electric Crisis

The Stock Exchange of Singapore (SES) was shut down, for a total of three days, for the first time in history after the collapse of Pan-Electric Industries (Pan-El). Pan-El had defaulted on a $7.5 million payment three weeks earlier, and was discovered to have owed as much as $453 million to 35 banks (its market capitalisation was $230 million during that time).

The stock was subsequently suspended from trading, and thousands of shareholders had their savings wiped out after its rescue plan failed. It was known as the Pan-Electric Crisis, which also caused the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (KLSE) of Malaysia to shut down for three days. A series of new securities’ regulations was later introduced. In October 1986, Pan-El was officially wound up.

Harmonious Society (1986-1999)

15 March 1986 – New World Hotel Disaster

Disbelief was shared by Singaporeans when news broke out that the six-storey Hotel New World Hotel at Serangoon Road collapsed. The tragedy claimed 33 lives.

A national disaster, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), hundreds of volunteers and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) worked hand in hand with specialist equipment to rescue the victims. They bravely faced a mammoth task in their attempt to save lives and clear the rubble. The rest of the nation gave help in any way they could: blood, food, money and care.

Companies voluntarily offered the use of specialist equipment worth thousands of dollars. Equipment such as the ultra-high pressure water machines that were able to blast through concrete without causing vibrations and 100-ton cranes to lift heavy concrete slabs facilitated the rescue efforts.

In the 7-day ordeal, People from different walks of life, races and nationalities responded as one. Public service organisations like the Red Cross and hundreds of ordinary Singaporeans came voluntarily and speedily to help. Staff of all the relief aid organisations looked after and alleviated the plight of the families of the victims.

14 December 1986

Then Minister of National Development of Singapore Teh Cheang Wan (1928-1986) committed suicide after allegations of corruption of SGD1 million by Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

14 May 1987 – McDonald’s Boys

Where are the missing boys? Exactly a year earlier, 12-year-old schoolboys Keh Chin Ann and Toh Hong Huat had gone missing.

Despite a huge police search, a poster campaign, a $100,000 reward from McDonald’s and a feature on television’s Crime Watch program, nothing had emerged which would explain their disappearance.

The two Primary Six students of Owen Primary School were last seen on their way to school. The search for them was extended to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, but proved to be fruitless after many years.

21 May, 20 June 1987 – Operation Spectrum

Accusing 22 Roman Catholic activists of plotting against the government, the Internal Security Department (ISD) carried out a swift arrest of these so-called Marxist conspirators.

The details were never released by the government, while critics were doubtful and pointed out that the alleged detainees were mainly professionals, lawyers, social workers and actors, which hardly fit into the description of a typical political leftist.

Nine accused were arrested again a month later after they complained of mental torture during their detains without trial. Most of the detainees were released one or two years later.

18 December 1988

Lim Keng Peng, nicknamed Ah Huat, became Singapore’s most wanted criminal in 1988 when he shot dead Detective Goh Ah Khia at Upper Serangoon Road. He was gunned down at a kopitiam at Sunset Way by a submachine gun used by the police, ending a manhunt that lasted 30 months.

15 May 1990

A couple dating at the East Coast Park’s Amber Beacon tower at night was stabbed from behind by two masked men. James Soh Fook Leong survived the attack but his 21-year-old female friend Tan Ah Hong died from a deep wound near her neck. The assailants’ motives and identities were unknown, and the weapon used in the attack was never found. The case remains unsolved till this day.

Lim Keng Peng

29 May 1990

A family of three elephants was found on in the jungles of Pulau Tekong by national servicemen. They were captured and sent back to Johor.

A year later, another bull elephant made its way to Pulau Ubin across the Johor Strait.

26 March 1991 – Singapore Airlines SQ 117 Hijack

Singapore Airlines Airbus flight SQ 117 took off from Subang Airport in Kuala Lumpur with 129 passengers and crew on board when four Pakistanis took control of the plane, forcing it to land in Singapore at 10:15pm.

The hijackers wanted the release of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s husband and other Pakistan People’s Party members detained in Pakistani jails.

Before the deadline at 6:45am after which they threatened to kill one passenger every ten minutes if their demands were not acceded to, elite Commandos stormed the plane, killing the four hijackers and freeing all 118 passengers and 9 crew. The rescue of SQ 117 was over in just 30 seconds and ended at 6:50am. None of the passengers and crew were hurt.

05 August 1993

MRT suffered its first major accident when an east-bound train hit a stationary train at Clementi station in the morning peak hours. Many passengers were flung aside or collide against the metal poles inside the train, resulting in 156 injuries. The accident was investigated to be caused by a large oil spill that affected the braking of the moving train.

28 February 1994

American teenager Michael Fay was sentenced to four months’ jail and four strokes of caning after being found guilty of vandalism, theft and mischief. The caning punishment received highly-publicised criticism from the West.

15 October 1994

Top nightclub mamasan Mona Koh was left paralysed after being ambushed by an unknown hitman at the ground floor lift lobby of Katong People’s Complex. She was hit by two bullets in the face and spine. The hitman was never caught.

8 March 1995

Known as the “Body Parts Murder”, British national John Martin Scripps killed a South African tourist Gerard George Lowe at River View Hotel. The body was dismembered and dumped at the Singapore River. The victim’s head and arms were never found. John Martin was arrested when he landed at Changi Airport on 19 March 1995. He had also murdered two tourists in Thailand.

On 19 April 1996, John Martin was hanged in Changi Prison. He was the first Briton to be executed in Singapore since independence.

July 1997

The Asian Currency Crisis struck, and the Singapore economy was not spared. Singapore dollar’s value dropped 20% while the Straits Time Index (STI) plunged 60%.

19 December 1997

Singapore-bound SilkAir Flight 185 crashed into the Musi River at southern Sumatra, killing all of its 104 passengers and crew members. 46 Singaporeans died, including the pilot Captain Tsu Way Ming.

New Millennium (2000-Present)

13 February 2000

A 27-year-old female jogger was raped and murdered at Bukit Batok Reserve Park. The case remains unsolved.

31 October 2000

First fatal crash of Singapore Airlines (SIA), SQ006 was destroyed in a failed takeoff at Taipei during a typhoon. A total of 83 passengers were killed.

December 2001

Plot to attack foreign embassies and Yishun MRT Station by terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) was foiled by the authority. 37 were arrested and detained under Internal Security Act (ISA).

2 January 2002

A case known as “Orchard Towers Murder”, British expat Michael McCrea murdered his friends Kho Nai Guan and Susie Lan. The bodies were found in an abandoned car at Orchard Towers.

March 2003
(Public Health)

Singapore society and economy was hit hard by the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Many stringent measures were imposed, but 33 in Singapore died.

18 March 2004

The Singapore Police was informed by the Royal Malaysia Police at about 8:45am on 18 March 2004 that they were pursuing three men on board a motorised sampan and the sampan had landed at Pulau Tekong. The men, 2 Indonesians and a Malaysian, were suspected to have earlier committed armed robbery in Johor.

The Singapore Armed Forces and the Singapore Police Force were immediately activated to conduct a joint search for the three persons on the island. Security measures had also been stepped up on the island and all military trainings on the island had been temporarily suspended to facilitate the search operations.

All three were caught within 3 days and were charged with illegal entry and possession of firearms.

20 April 2004 – Nicoll Highway Collapse

A tunnel at Nicoll Highway, constructed as part of the SMRT Circle Line, collapsed when the supporting structure gave way, killing four people and injured three. Three days of rescue efforts were carried at the 30m-deep cave-in, which triggered a series of investigations and probes. The construction was halted for almost eight months, and the man-in-charge, project director Ng Seng Yoong, was fined $8,000 for negligence.

10 October 2004

Malaysian Took Leng How admitted to the murder of Chinese girl Huang Na after her body was found dumped at Telok Blangah Hill.

16 June 2005

Leong Siew Chor was found guilty of murdering Chinese national Liu Hong Mei in what was later known as the “Kallang body parts murder”. After killing the victim, Leong chopped up her body into seven parts and dumped the pieces into Kallang River. He was hanged in 2007.

7 Sept 2005

29-year-old Filipino maid Guen Garlejo Aguilar murdered her good friend Jane Parangan La Puebla at her employer’s condominium SunGlade at Serangoon Avenue 2. Quarreling over money matters, Guen Garlejo Aguilar suffocated the 26-year-old victim and dismembered her body. Two days later, she dumped the body parts near Ochard MRT Station and Lornie Road.

Diagnosed with depression, Guen Garlejo Aguilar was charged with manslaughter and sentenced to 10-year imprisonment.

2 December 2006

Tan Chor Lin, nicknamed “One-Eyed Dragon” shot nightclub owner Lim Hock Soon five times in a Serangoon flat. He was later sentenced to death.

27 February 2008 – Mas Selemat Escape

Mas Selamat Kastari, leader of Jemaah Islamiah (JI) terror network, is one of Singapore’s most wanted terrorist. He was involved in plans to attack Yishun MRT station and United States naval vessels in Singapore.

In early 2006, he was arrested in Malang and was deported to Singapore, detained under Internal Security Act. However, on 27 February 2008, Mas Selemat escaped from Whitley Road Detention Centre, sparking nationwide manhunt. The Malaysian authorities revealed later that after his escape, he swam across Johor Strait and hid in Kampung Tawakal in Skudai. Malaysia says he hatched plans to bomb targets in Singapore and Malaysia after fleeing.

In 2009, after a year of escape, Malaysian police raided his hideout in Kampung Tawakal and captured him. The news is not made public (shortly after capture, Malaysia informed Singapore but asked that the matter be kept quiet) until May 2009.

Finally in September 2010, Mas Selamat was handed over to Singapore, prompting detailed investigation of his escape.

18 September 2008

A shocking murder case occurred in a Yishun flat in which three were killed and one was left with serious injuries.

45-year-old China national Wang Zhi Jian stabbed her girlfriend Zhang Meng multiple times after a quarrel. When the latter’s daughter Feng Jian Yu woke up from her sleep after hearing the cries, Wang Zhi Jian proceeded to stab her as well. Both women died from their injuries. Wang Zhi Jian then entered a second room to attack another pair of mother-and-daughter, who were staying in the same unit. The mother Yang Jie was forced to escape through the kitchen window but fell to her death, while her daughter Li Mei Lin, the only survivor of the killing frenzy, was injured badly.

Wang Zhi Jian, who arrived at Singapore for only 10 days before he committed the horrific murder, was sentenced to death in 2012 after a four-year trial.

September 2008

Due to the subprime crisis in the United States, Singapore became the first Asian nation to enter recession as STI plunged more than 30% in a couple of weeks.

15 December 2009

Romanian diplomat Dr Silviu Ionescu hit three pedestrians at Bukit Panjang, causing the death of Tong Kok Wai. Ionescu was suspected of drunk-driving and hit and run. He escaped from Singapore three days later.

25 June 2010

Swiss Oliver Fricker became the highest-profiled foreigner since 1994 to receive caning after he trespassed SMRT Changi depot and vandalised two train carriages.

15 and 17 December 2011

The North-South line of SMRT was hit by major disruptions for several hours due to track faults. More than 200,000 commuters were affected and thousands were stranded in the tunnels.

12 May 2012

China national Ma Chi, 31, sped in his Ferrari and beat the red-lights at Victoria Street in the wee hours of Saturday morning, resulting in a horrific collision with a taxi and motorcycle. The taxi driver Cheng Teck Hock and his passenger Shigemi Ito died in the crash, along with Ma Chi. Another two were injured.

The shocking accident also sparked off strong anti-foreigner sentiments from Singaporeans, who were increasingly unhappy with the massive influx of foreigners in recent years.

10 July 2013

In the criminal case popularly known as Double Kovan Murder in the media, senior police staff sergeant Iskandar Rahmat, 34, was charged for murdering workshop owner Tan Boon Sin, 66, and his 42-year-old son Tan Chee Heong at their Hillside Drive terrace house.

The case is still pending.

9 August 2013

A 36-year-old speeding driver, under the influence of alcohol and medicine, crashed into five people at the shoulder lane of the Central Expressway (CTE), near Yio Chu Kang Road exit, at 4am. The victims were changing a punctured tyre. The accident resulted in four deaths, including three Koreans. In 2015, the driver was sentenced to five years’ jail and banned from driving for 20 years.

08 December 2013 – Little India Riot
little india riot 2013(Social Unrest)

A riot involving about 400 South Asian foreign workers broke out at 9.30pm after a bus knocked down and killed an Indian national at the junction of Race Course Road and Hampshire Road. An ambulance was set on fire, while several police cars were overturned and burnt. Bottles, stones and rubbish bins were hurled, resulting in at least 18 injuries, including police officers and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) personnel. More than 30 were arrested for rioting with dangerous weapons.

It was Singapore’s first major riot in more than 40 years.

13 April 2015

How could anyone be capable of such monstrosities? It was a question many Singaporeans asked when they read this horrific crime.

On 13 April 2015, Annie Ee Yu Lian, an intellectually disabled 26-year-old waitress, was found dead in a Woodlands flat. She had been subjected to abuses by a couple whom she regarded as “elder brother” and “sister”.

For eight months, the pair tortured the victim by beating her with slippers, belt, dustbin, bamboo stick and a shrink wrap. The abuses caused her to suffer from 12 broken ribs, 7 fractured vertebrae, a ruptured stomach and a body covered with bruises and blisters. Annie Ee Yu Lian was also forced to surrender her entire paycheck, in return for a meagre allowance.

In December 2017, Tan Hui Zhen and her husband Pua Hak Chuan were sentenced to 16.5 and 14 years’ jail term respectively. Pua Hak Chuan was also given 14 strokes of the cane.

23 April 2018

A lorry recklessly slammed and killed three pedestrians along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6, opposite Yio Chu Kang MRT Station. The driver, 28-year-old permanent resident Xu Kai Xiang, was driving the lorry without a valid Class 3 license. He was fined $1,400 and banned from driving for a year. It was reported that he has congenital heart disease that could lead to blackouts. Following the accident, the Traffic Police reviewed the certification process of people fit to drive.

January 2020-Present – Covid-19 Pandemic
(Public Health)

As China fell into the turmoil of Covid-19 outbreak, the rest of the world could not prevent the spread of the pandemic, declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 11 Mar 2020. For Singapore, the first confirmed case occurred on 23 January when an infected Chinese national from Wuhan flew into Singapore. As more cases surfaced, Singapore’s Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level was raised from Yellow to Orange on 7 February 2020. On 21 March 2020, Singapore reported its first Covid-19 fatality.

By early April 2020, there were more than 1,100 confirmed cases and six deaths. The Singapore government announced a one-month “circuit breaker” on 3 April 2020, where all non-essential workplaces and services would be halted until 4 May 2020, in a bid to slow down the community and asymptomatic spread. Doses of vaccination were rolled out to all residents from December 2020 onwards.

After more than 2 years, as the global and local pandemic situation gradually stabilised, Singapore lowered its DORSCON level from orange to yellow on 26 April 2022. It was eventually reverted to green on 13 February 2023 with most of the restrictions lifted, such as the wearing of masks in public transport, use of TraceTogether and SafeEntry apps, and proofs of negative pre-departure Covid-19 tests by incoming travellers.

13 February 2021

Five men, aged between 26 and 29, were killed when the BMW they were in crashed into one of Tanjong Pagar Road’s shophouses and burst into flames. A woman was severely burnt when she tried to save her boyfriend from the burning car.

19 July 2021

Singapore was shaken by the news of a vicious assault at River Valley High School, when a 16-year-old teenager killed a fellow 13-year-old schoolmate with an axe. The boy was charged with murder and has been in remand since the shocking incident.

Published: 24 January 2011

Updated: 28 February 2023

This entry was posted in Historic and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

103 Responses to Headlines that shook Singapore (since 1955)

  1. Justin K says:

    You might want to include the following headlines as well:

    1) Murder of Huang Na, 2004

    2) Crash of Singapore Airlines Flight 006, 2000

    3) The Great Orchard Flood, 2010

    4) The Aware Saga, 2009

    5) Operation Spectrum, 1987

    6) Caning of Michael P. Fay, 1994

    7) Discovery of JI Attack Plot, 2001

    8) The claiming of Pedra Branca, 2008

    • Thanks for the contribution Justin
      will add some of the events into the article 😉

      • LKH says:

        Hi, another fantastic article. i’m deeply impressed by your knowledge of Singapore. Having said that, one headline that you might want to consider including in your story is the shooting of the most wanted man, Lim Ban Lim, on 24th November 1972 at Margaret Drive.

    • Tan says:

      Good compilation of accident history.
      However, 15 March 1986 – New World Hotel Disaster. Is it true that SCDF was activated to the scene of disaster during that time? I was informed that it was the Japanese consultants and engineers that was working with the MRT system came to the assistance because they are able to provide the expertise in buildings disaster.
      Only then, SCDF was formed because of Hotel New World accident.

      • Colin Tan says:

        Yes, Mr. Tan you were spot on. This article contains some inaccurate facts. There was no SCDF at that time. The Fire Brigade & police with the help of the MRT staff were doing the rescuing job due to their MRT tunneling expertise. Japan and some other advanced countries offered help. I rushed to the scene when I heard the news from Rediffusion. Anyway, thanks to the writer for a very good compilation.

      • Gary says:

        The SCDF existed when this happened. Some of my reservists SCDF friends had just completed their rescue training earlier that day and were released to go home. They were mobilised later in tge afternoon when the incident took place and were on scene with other SCDF units to conduct rescue operations. Subsequently, after the inquiry, SCDF was merged with Singapore Fire Service to become Joint Singapore Civil Defence Force (JSCDF). Also, the rescuers from the MRT tunnel projects were from Japan, Britain and Ireland.

  2. Jeff says:

    Hi I guess there is also one major event that shock the nation in the late 90s. Silkair MI 185 that crashed in Palembang Indonesia in 19 Dec 1997. The incident killed all 97 passengers and 7 crew on board.

  3. matemat says:

    should check the police annals on Lim Ban Lim, Morgan, Ah Huat: all big time gangsters who fought till they died with police.

    • Vino says:

      They were real fearless gangsters those time,i was a little boy,the gun fight was in Margaret drive..could not forget the shootout till today.

  4. Errol G says:

    Something that is newsworthy but would be unthinkable today, would be an incident sometime around the early 1960s (probably 1963) when Lee Kuan Yew was pushed into a monsoon drain by left-wing factions while campaigning on the pro-merger issue.
    I believe the incident occurred somewhere around the Kim Keat area.

    • Gmale says:

      As I remember it the young PM lky went into this cul-de-sac with his sharp hatchet and knuckleduster to confront the union leader at a strike scene, mafia-style. One push from the latter and the hatchetman ended in the drain, redfaced.
      Of course, the pusher did not get off scot-free; he was given the VIP treatment under Section 55.

    • Yes you are right… It was in 1963

      (Source: Chronicle of Singapore: Fifty Years of Headline News 1959-2009)

  5. Chan HY says:

    It will be wonderful if we could showcase roadside stalls that were so prominent in the 60’s and that was before the Govt housed all hawkers in hawker centers. Those stalls actually will give us a good glimpse of life then. I remember “Do Rai Me” who ran a coffee stall along Tras Street then. Yes, Tras St was called Tras St before some smart alecks renamed Tras St to Murray St. I have some photos of old Tras St before the unit ware insensitively renovated, turing them into faceless concrete and steel structures.

  6. hiran says:

    Do you know the case of a student from BPGHS who was raped and killed in the 1960s(?) ?

    • Care to elaborate more? 😉

      • Elodie Sng says:

        22 November 1991 – Ling Peck Hoon, a Sec 1 student at BPGHS was found murdered near the stretch of shortcut from Woodlands Road, across the railway tracks, across the canal and then on to the then-BPGHS site at Jalan Teck Whye.
        The Straits Times, 8 October 1991, Page 2
        Schools in Teck Whye to stop use of short-cut
        Article also available on microfilm reel NL17498 [Lee Kong Chian Reference Library – On shelf] – can’t be viewed online must go to the library :p

    • Cheng says:

      I guess you meant the 1990s? I think it was either 1991 or 1992. I was a student in the school when the incident happened. It was a morning when a search party found the poor girl’s body. The story went like this…the girl went to school the previous day as usual, walking along secluded path (between old woodlands road and teck whye), but never reach home that evening. Mother called and realized her daughter didn’t reach school the previous day. A search party was called. Soon, the girl’s body was found in a drain along the path. She was only in sec 1 or 2. It was a case that shocked the entire school then, but for some reasons seemed to be totally forgotten. I can’t find any info relating to this case online and didn’t know if this case was ever solved. Memory of this case surfaces whenever I see sec school students do their PE runs out of school compound. The area where it happened was near where we always had our PE runs outside of school.

      • Tan says:

        I remember this case. I’m a student from Teck Whye Sec (BPGH’s then neighbour school). It was Children’s Day and all Pri schools kids are not schooling. She was the last Sec student taking the school bus which she had took it since Pri school. The school bus driver was the murderer.

      • Cheng says:

        Thank you Tan for solving the mystery for me. Otherwise it would remain a heart felt puzzle that never get resolved. At least I can say that justice was done, I guess.

      • chua says:

        I think the murderer was freed due to insufficient evidence a few years later

    • JC says:

      This case was on October 3 1991. I was a personal friend in the same school with her since primary school and we were in the basketball team together in BPGHS. I hope to be able to find out what was the outcome of the case eventually as there were no more news of her case subsequently.

  7. Braema says:

    thank you for this wonderful work. I also remember around 1973/1974 when the panther escaped from the zoo and it was a huge hunt.

  8. User says:

    What about that NSman who secretly took a rifle and ammo out of his camp and gunned down at least three people? That case happened in the early-mid 80s. He was later hanged but his accomplice got only a jail term.(because he tried to stop him from killing his victims).

    • Joe Foo says:

      there is also one young full time NSF who took a SAR21 and left his guard duty, hide in geylang with a thai prostitute, and got caught several days at cineleisure with the rifle and bullets in his bag. happened before 2010 i think.

  9. Alvin Tan says:

    Just some minor things I noticed:

    In the SQ 117 hijacks, 2 hostages were injured. The hijackers pushed 2 SIA stewards out of the plane onto the tarmac, injuring both of them.

    And for the SQ 6 part, SIA stands for Singapore Airlines not Singapore International Airlines

    • Arjuna Menon says:

      came into contact with two of the tactical team members tasked to end the hijacking.One was COL Lo, a former CO at SISPEC.The other was my CSM,2WO(back then) Lum at 1 SIR.
      Brilliant men, fantastic work ethic and priceless Singaporeans.

      • p j says:

        if this is true, their id’s were kept secret for a c reason – To protect them and their families. Revealing them here would be absolutely wrong!

  10. Hart Rizzo says:

    Nicoll Highway?

  11. bornIn80s says:

    any story on annable chong?

  12. Ma hor ma hor ma hor says:

    u forgot to include mee siam mai hum

  13. Fadilee says:

    How bout the NSF who died during route match in Tekong..it’s a mystery though..

  14. A tragedy happened at the Singapore Buddhist Lodge, a few days before Chinese New Year of 1959.

    Life was tough for the people, during a chaotic period when Singapore moved towards self-government and independence

    (Source: Chronicle of Singapore: Fifty Years of Headline News 1959-2009)

  15. Astaroth says:

    Ten earth-shattering local events not covered here:

    1) NSF who shot his officer in cold blood and then shot himself during range on P. Tekong.

    2) Lee Hsien Loong slapping Dhanabalan over a disagreement.

    3) Singapore’s first olympic silver medalist Tan Howe Liang

    4) MP’s daughter Wee Shu Min’s elitist rant on her blog.

    5) Five Singaporean dragonboaters who drowned during the Cambodia water festival race.

    6) Kallang serial slashings by parang-wielding Sarawak foreign workers.

    7) The great Orchard Road, Bukit Timah and Thomson Road floods.

    8) The Filipino maid who killed and chopped up her compatriot, and then dumped the bagged body parts outside Orchard MRT station.

    9) Downtown East gang fight that left Pheonix Hill gangster Darren Ng Wei Jie dead and landed several 369 gangsters in jail.

    10) Annabel Chong’s world record (to be censored)

    • Gerald Lim V says:

      in addition:
      11) NSF personnal took out his SAR21 from camp.
      12) Clementi Woods Rape cum Murder.
      13) Woodlands water tank murder.
      14) Someone from our home was involved in terrorism or drug related.

      BTW, was appluad (almost ashamed) about Annabel Chong’s feat. lol

      • Arjuna Menon says:

        wonder if anyone heard about the container of firearms that almost got into Singapore had it not been for eagle-eyed security chaps at PSA……?

    • Roy says:

      I wouldn’t describe these as earth-shattering in the history of Singapore. Just highlights within the last decade perhaps. Especially not item 2 which I doubt was printed and item 4 which is hardly earth-shattering. The writer has to take all the eras into context and balance the coverage over the decades.

      Just enjoy the recap of most of these long-forgotten history. I for one am born after ’70s and am glad that I am learning some of our nation’s turbulent past while it was growing up.

  16. Stellbelle says:

    anyone know survivors or people who know survivors of the macdonald house bombing?

  17. cynthia says:

    Can anyone remember a murder that took place in one of the semi-D along Jalan Seaview some twenty years or even more….

  18. khamsani says:

    You forget the Wahab,Mustapha brothers…….

  19. James says:

    I just want to thank you for this. Been looking for a compilation of Singapore headlines for a long time. 🙂

  20. Tien Song Chuan says:

    Also the Great Penis Panic 1967

  21. Tien Song Chuan says:

    Annabelle Chong sets world record for Gang Bang 1995.

  22. floppy says:

    I would think this two warrants a mention on the headlines that shook Singapore:
    1. Crash of MI185
    2. Trial and hanging of Flor Contemplacion

  23. Willie says:

    The “12 October 1978 – The Spyros Disaster”. My uncle who live with us worked on that ship when the explosion occurred. He was instructed to weld/cut (spoken to us in Cantonese, doing “siew horn” and the next thing he knew an explosion (“bao za”) and they were burnt. He was lucky to survive that. I recall visiting him in SGH “C class ward” with both his arms were bandaged and supported, and the front and the back of his torso was in bandages. I was only a kid (less than 10 years old), but remembered that.

    • JY says:

      Hi Willie, I am researching for a documentary about the Spyros Disaster in 1978 and would very much like to speak with you and your uncle. Kindly contact me at talkativemeister [at] gmail [dot] com, and we will take the discussion from there.

      Thank you very much.


    • catrinchen says:

      HI willie , I am a researcher from a production house , care to share more about the accident. My email is catrin@ochrepictures.com. Hope to hear a reply from you soon.

    • Willie says:

      Sorry to all who was expecting a reply, I didn’t see the requests to get in touch with me until today.

      My uncle (one of the survivors) passed away quite a few years ago, so sadly, getting it first hand is lost.

      The incident happened I was less than 10 years old then, so I only have some memories of visiting him at the hospital, with both arms in bandages, his front and back torso was also burnt. I remember the old C ward at SGH when we visited him. I remembered he said something in Cantonese to us along the lines of “where you want to wield this ?” and either a supervisor or a colleague replied back “wield it here”, and the next thing he remembered a big “bang”. I cannot remember how long he did not go back to work, I think it was probably between 2 to 4 weeks.

      The only other vivid memory of this uncle, is that he fished a very big garoupa from the Singapore River shortly after the massive Singapore River cleanup, and appeared on the English newspaper (can’t remember which one now) in the late 80s.

  24. Mervyn says:

    I wonder if anyone remember an incident where a girl was killed by a crashing fighter plane while using the toilet many years ago.
    NKF saga not included? Should be considered headlines.

    • Sam@KampongHongKeat says:

      Killed while using the toilet when a fighter plane crashed? The only one I know of happened in 1977 at Tengah Air Base. If that was the one, then a farmer was killed while using the toilet. I was stationed in Tengah then and one of my squadron training planes crashed. The young pilot graduated as a fighter pilot few days earlier and that was to be his last sortie before being assigned to the operational squadron.
      I was told that the poor farmer died together with his flock of chickens.

      • Han@Berseri says:

        It was in 1983. I lived in a neighbouring kampong. The Skyhawk collided with RAF Mirage at Tengah. The Skyhawk pilot ejected and landed at Jalan Sabit together with his ejectes seat. The other pilot Aussie ejected and landed on a field where he was driven to Tengah Airbase. I remember this incident well as I could not return home. The MPs blocked all vehicles from entering Jln Berseri.

      • Gary says:

        Sam is correct. My combat engineer unit was activated to help in salvage and recovery operation when the aircraft crashed into the farm in Tengah. The case which Han mentioned is a later case.
        Another case of interest is one involving the disappearance of a SADC (predecessor of RSAF) Skyhawk over the South China Sea in the 1970s. No pilot or wreckage was found.

  25. medscy says:

    It is sad that reports about Op Malindo Darsasa 3AB didnn’t make it to the headlines… we should not be oblivious to the danger that is lurking to threaten thesecurity of our nation

  26. Coco says:

    Thanks for the memory!

    I think the following events merit their place in Singapore’s history:

    Religious Riot over the Dutch girl Maria

    1963-64?: Merdeka Bridge bombing by Indonesians under Soekarno

    1968?: the Mimi Wong murder of a Japanese housewife and children of her Japanese lover

    1970’s: spate of armed robberies of jewellery stores by a most wanted criminal (forgot his nickname) who eventually died in a police crossfire

    1980: merging of Nantah and Singapore U to form an English-stream NTU amidst Nantah’s protest

    1981: JBJ became the first opposition MP

    1987: so-called Marxist Plot — the name Tan Wah Piow missed out (intentionally?)

    1997: a spate of house break-ins by Indonesian masked men

    1998?: SilkAir flight 119 crash over Medan

    200? : discovery of the body parts belonging to a Canadian mother and son who were butchered to death in Phuket and their chopped up bodies found in Collyer Quay

    • TKSS says:

      1970′s: spate of armed robberies of jewellery stores by a most wanted criminal (forgot his nickname) who eventually died in a police crossfire”….the number 1 wanted man in Singapore at that time, Lim Ban Lim. He was eventually ambushed and killed by the police at Margaret Drive.

  27. Nick says:

    The sembawang rape n murder case of mani mala

  28. Nick says:

    Yishun junior college rape case involving kanaga sundaram

  29. Ow Chin Kye says:

    Accident happened at junction of Race Course road and Hampshire road. rioting was at buffalo Road.

  30. rimi says:

    Activist hacker group Anonymous attacked the government website. shld add that in too. awesome page btw

  31. Singapore was a hotbed of abductions in the 1950s and 1960s

    The Straits Times
    Published on Jan 10, 2014

    Kidnappings were rampant in Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s, with rich towkays being the main targets.

    Many of the kidnappers were part of secret society gangs, and violent – they confronted the police with guns and grenades.

    To put a stop to these threats, the Government amended kidnapping laws and raised the maximum penalty from 10 years to death or life imprisonment.

    By the 1970s, the number of kidnaps dropped significantly.

    These were the five most famous kidnapping cases of the past:

    1. Kidnapping and murder of biscuit king Lee Gee Chong

    Mr Lee, chairman of the Thye Hong biscuit factory, was abducted in April 1960 near his home in Garlick Avenue off Holland Road. He was the son of Mr Lee Choon Seng, the vice-chairman of the Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation. The younger Mr Lee’s body was found wrapped in a blanket in a graveyard off Yio Chu Kang Road five days after he was abducted. He had died of head injuries. It was not reported if any ransom was paid.

    2. Kidnapping of Tangs’ founder Tang Choon Keng

    Better known as C.K. Tang, the founder of the Orchard Road department store was kidnapped in July 1960 outside his bungalow in St Thomas Walk, off River Valley Road. He was abducted at 7.15am in full view of children heading to the nearby Sam Kiang Public School. The 60-year-old was released four days later after a $150,000 ransom was paid. One of this kidnappers, Loh Ngut Fong, was behind several other famous kidnappings.

    3. Kidnapping and murder of shipping tycoon Tay Kie Thay

    The 48-year-old shipping tycoon was kidnapped outside his bungalow in Katong in May 1961. Gunmen threw pepper into his driver’s eyes and forced him out of the car. The kidnappers drove Mr Tay in his car to Broadrick Road where he was transferred to another car. That was the last anyone saw of him. His family paid the $130,000 ransom but he was not released. A few months later, it was discovered that the one of the kidnappers had shot him and buried him in a vacant plot of land in Tampines.

    4. Kidnapping of movie tycoon Shaw Vee Ming

    In February 1964, the eldest son of movie mogul Run Run Shaw was kidnapped at gunpoint in Andrew Road when he was on his way to work. The four-men gang also abducted his driver. Twelve days later, both men were released after the Shaw family paid the $250,000 ransom.

    5. Kidnapping of rubber magnate Ng Quee Lam

    The 44-year-old was dragged from his limousine when he arrived to pick up a friend for dinner at Kee Choe Avenue in Sennett Estate. Several shots were fired during the kidnapping in November 1964. Mr Ng was freed after a fortnight when his family paid the $400,000 ransom.

  32. A primer on the MacDonald House bombing that shook Singapore in 1965

    The Straits Times
    Published on Feb 06, 2014

    The front page of The Straits Times on March 11, 1965.

    The MacDonald House bombing was the worst of a string of attacks by Indonesian saboteurs during Konfrontasi, the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation that happened from 1963 to 1966. The incident has been making the headlines again because Indonesia named a navy ship after the two men responsible for the attack.

    A 25lb (11.33kg) package of nitroglycerine, with a timing device, was planted on the mezzanine floor, near the lifts. At 3.07pm on March 10, 1965, the bomb exploded, tearing a hole in the floor, ripping out a lift door and reducing the correspondence room of the Hongkong And Shanghai Bank “into a shambles” according to a Straits Times report.

    The blast was so powerful that all the windows in buildings within a 100m radius as well as the windscreens of vehicles in a carpark across the street were shattered.

    Three people died, and 35 people were injured. Elizabeth Suzie Choo Kway Hoi, 36 and mother of six who was private secretary to the manager of the bank, and Juliet Goh Hwee Kuang, 23 and an only child, were killed in the blast. Mr Mohammed Yasin Kesit, 45, remained in a coma and died later in hospital, leaving a widow and eight children.

    Two Indonesian marines, Osman Haji Mohammed Ali, 25, and Harun Said, 21, were charged in court on March 16 for the bombing and hung in Changi Jail on Oct 17, 1968. In protest over the hanging, 400 students in Jakarta stormed the Singapore embassy and attacked the consul’s residence as well as the homes of two Singaporean diplomats.

    The MacDonald House bombing was the worst of a string of attacks by Indonesian saboteurs during Konfrontasi, the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation that happened from 1963 to 1966.

    The bomb was placed on the stairway on the mezzanine floor of MacDonald House where it exploded.

    Special Investigation Branch arresting a man at the Kallang Housing Estate in connection with the bomb explosion at MacDonald House.

    Indonesian Embassy officials leaving Wisma House to receive the bodies of the two executed Indonesian saboteurs at the Changi Jail.

    The Indonesian flag being flown at half-mast at the Indonesian Embassy. The embassy was mourning the deaths of two executed Indonesian saboteurs at Changi Jail.

    Bodies of the two executed Indonesian saboteurs leave Changi Jail for the RAF Changi Airfield to be flown back to Indonesia by a Indonesian Air Force plane.

    Two Indonesians were charged in a magistrate’s court with the murder of three MacDonald House workers.

    • Singapore concerned over naming of Indonesian navy ship after executed commandos

      The Straits Times
      Published on Feb 06, 2014

      Singapore has registered its concerns over Indonesia’s naming of a navy ship after two Indonesian marines who took part in the 1965 bombing of MacDonald House on Orchard Road.

      Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesman said on Wednesday night that Foreign Minister K Shanmugam spoke to his Indonesian counterpart, Dr Marty Natalegawa, to register these concerns “and the impact this would have on the feelings of Singaporeans, especially the families of the victims”.

      Indonesia’s Kompas daily had reported this week that the last of the Indonesian Navy’s three new British-made frigates would be named the KRI Usman Harun, after marines Osman Haji Mohamed Ali and Harun Said.

      “The two Indonesian marines were found guilty of the bombing which killed three people and injured 33 others,” the MFA spokeman said in response to media queries.

      “Singapore had considered this difficult chapter in the bilateral relationship closed in May 1973 when then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew visited and scattered flowers on the graves of the two marines,” he added.

      The duo were members of Indonesia’s special Operations Corps Command, which is today the Marine Corps, and had been ordered to infiltrate Singapore during Indonesia’s Confrontation with Malaysia.

      Then-president Sukarno had opposed the formation of Malaysia, which Singapore was part of from September 1963 to August 1965, as a puppet state of the British.

      Both marines were convicted and executed in Singapore in 1968 for the March 10, 1965 bombing of MacDonald House, which stands near where Dhoby Ghaut MRT station is today.

      Their hanging saw some 400 agitated students in Jakarta ransack the Singapore embassy, attack the consul’s residence and burn the Singapore flag, and bilateral ties remained tense for several years.

      The marines were welcomed home as heroes, and given a ceremonial funeral at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery in South Jakarta.

      Relations between Singapore and Indonesia were restored when Mr Lee Kuan Yew visited Jakarta in 1973, and sprinkled flowers on the marines’ graves.

      Former Singapore ambassador to Indonesia Lee Khoon Choy had earlier recounted that the gesture, which the Javanese believe propitiates the souls of the dead, moved the hosts deeply because it demonstrated that Singapore was sensitive to Javanese culture.

      But in recent years, efforts to commemorate both marines – alongside other declared heroes – have resurfaced, and last year(2013), the Marine Corps proposed to rename Jalan Prapatan in Central Jakarta, where the unit’s headquarters are, as Jalan Usman Harun. The Navy said two other new ships it would take charge of would be named after Indonesian independence heroes Bung Tomo and John Lie. The first, KRI Bung Tomo, will set sail from Britain in June 2014.

      Bung Tomo led the popular resistance against Allied British and Dutch forces in the Battle of Surabaya in November 1945, while John Lie smuggled agricultural produce to buy and smuggle arms from Malaya for the fledgling Indonesian armed forces from 1945 to 1949.

      Kompas cited Indonesia’s Navy chief, Admiral Marsetio, as saying that the three ships would be named after these men “in remembering the services they had rendered to the Indonesian nation”.

  33. Gulaq says:

    Anyone still remember the Tay Cheng Wan case who committed suicide (HDB corruption case) ?

  34. Ah meng says:

    Chinese bus drivers strike at work n kena sent back home?

  35. Michael Chia says:

    May want to add the SilkAir crash that took place in December 1997.

  36. Joe Foo says:


    THE full-time national serviceman who was said to have left camp last year with a rifle and ammunition, sparking a massive manhunt, will stand trial in the High Court in July.

    Dave Teo Ming, 20, is charged with unlawful possession of a SAR-21 assault rifle at Cathay Cineleisure Orchard at about 8pm on Sept 3 last year.

    He is also accused of having eight 5.56mm bullets, the type used in SAR-21 rifles.

    Teo also faces a third charge of having a 40cm knife at a staircase of Block 22, Simei Street 1, Melville Park, on April 14 last year.

    At a preliminary inquiry on Thursday, Teo appeared solemn. He is represented by lawyer K. Mathialahan.

    If convicted, he could be jailed up to 20 years and caned.

    Teo was trained as an infantry rifleman with the 1st Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment.

    He is said to have fled Mandai Hill Camp while on guard duty.

    A island-wide manhunt involving some 200 police officers followed and Teo was finally arrested at Orchard Cineleisure 20 hours later.

    Police caught him in a toilet on the mall’s third floor. When he was nabbed, he was dressed in a black suit and tie.

    Teo’s friend, Ong Boon Jun, 22, who was with him before he was caught, was jailed six-and-a-half years and caned six strokes in February.

  37. Lycan Fu says:

    Learned more history in a piece of awesome article than a year in school.

  38. Pingback: Singapore through Headlines (And some Arctic Ice) | generalpaperpress

  39. Bryant says:

    If I didn’t remember wrongly, there was a female lawyer who was killed in a hotel in India when she was held a hostage right?

  40. lio ng says:

    Thanks for all the information gathered here.
    All these history should go into some sort of social history text book for our future generations. Even more so to remind us the need for “Total Defence” effort.

  41. lao pei says:

    h1n1, si tua bui kia zhenhao, malaysia rail close shop, WP take down GRC

  42. lee hwee says:

    2012:Haze hit 400+

  43. Thanks for all the contributions…

    I’ll take some time to verify the news and their dates/time of occurrence, and update the list accordingly

  44. June says:

    There’s one case in either late 1990s or early 2000s.

    A Chinese Singaporean man in his 30s was killed in Woodlands Carpark.

    The cause of the murder was unknown and murderers are still at large till this day. I do not have any other info though

  45. Reblogged this on missanythingunderthesky and commented:
    I felt that this article was pretty interesting. #reblog

  46. Scene of nightmare now home to a Catholic family 1988

  47. Rick says:

    Amazingly, no one mentioned Ah Long San case of Loan shark which lead to internal investigations of police officers etc…..

  48. Haunted by unsolved murder of girlfriend 25 years ago

    19 July 2015
    The Straits Times

    The unsolved murder of his girlfriend 25 years ago still haunts Mr James Soh.

    Their romantic night out in East Coast Park on May 15, 1990 ended in a nightmare when they were stabbed by two assailants who have never been apprehended.

    Miss Tan Ah Hong, 21, died from a deep stab wound in the neck, while Mr Soh, then 22, was knifed in the back.

    To this day, Mr Soh told The Sunday Times, he is wary of footsteps behind him, and is always looking back and letting people walk ahead where he can see them. He also avoids secluded areas.

    The case was never solved, and he is none the wiser as to why they were attacked.

    “Until now it’s still a big question mark for me: Why did it happen?” he said. “A life was taken; what they did was ridiculous, and I wish they could be found.”

    Now 47 and married, Mr Soh said he could not make out the faces of his masked assailants, but vividly recalled the attack and its aftermath.

    He and Miss Tan had just started dating two days before, after years of friendship as classmates in secondary school, where they were both prefects.

    “In school we were always together. She didn’t play games or sports like I did but we clicked,” said Mr Soh.

    He was studying in a polytechnic when he finally asked her out almost a decade after they first met.

    On that night, the couple were sitting on the spiral staircase going up to the second floor of the park’s popular Amber Beacon tower and chatting. Mr Soh recalled seeing two men going upstairs. Suddenly they were attacked from behind.

    “I defended myself instinctively,” he recounted.

    “I stood up when I was stabbed, and grabbed the guy. It was so fast, I only knew we were attacked, not that I had been stabbed. I got him over the rail and clinging on to the bar, but then he jumped down… he managed to run away.”

    Miss Tan, meanwhile, had run to the ground floor of the tower in an attempt to escape from the second attacker. By the time Mr Soh got to her, she was lying on the ground, in pain and with a wound to the back of her neck, but still trying to move. Their attackers had disappeared. “I tried to pull her up, but it wasn’t easy, and nobody was around,” said Mr Soh.

    “Then I realised that my shirt was kind of wet, and it was blood.”

    Weak from the injury and the struggle, he could not pick Miss Tan up. Frantic, he spotted the only sign of life in the park’s deserted corner – a restaurant called Singa Inn – and ran in that direction through the bushes to call for help.

    Bursting through the front door, Mr Soh, who was covered in blood, managed to explain that Miss Tan needed help, before collapsing face down over a table.

    He was taken to Singapore General Hospital, and he found out Miss Tan had died only two days later.

    “I thought she had made it,” he said. “There was regret that I never had a chance to get to know her better.”

    No weapon was recovered at the scene, and Mr Soh never saw the attackers’ faces or heard their voices as the men had been careful not to speak.

    No one was ever arrested though a report in The New Paper at the time quoted police sources as saying the attackers might have been foreign robbers.

    He counts himself lucky that the knife missed his spinal cord, and he has tried to move past the attack.Mr Soh, who works in sales, said he told his only child, a 16-year-old boy, about the attack last year.

    “I wish that anyone who has information or the culprits themselves could come forward.

    “I always tell my son, ‘You never know what can happen.’ No matter how strong you are, my advice is think smart, don’t go to places that let people have a chance to do something to you.”

    Unsolved cases reviewed from time to time

    According to a spokesman for the Singapore Police Force, “it is part of procedure to conduct reviews of unsolved cases from time to time and whenever any fresh leads surface”.

    “During the reviews, police will examine the evidence gathered and conduct further interviews with witnesses whenever necessary,” he added.

    “The police also publicise appeals for information on unsolved crimes via the Singapore Police Force website and through the media.”

    Members of the public can also provide information that can help in crime solving by calling the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or by submitting the information online at this website: http://www.police.gov.sg/CrimeStopper


  49. Gunbattle straight out of a Hollywood movie

    02 August 2015
    The Straits Times

    In 1972, Margaret Drive was the stage for a gunbattle between police and Lim Ban Lim – Singapore’s most wanted gunman at the time. In his criminal career, Lim got away with at least $2.5 million and left one officer dead. He was killed after he opened fire on the police, who were waiting to ambush him. His case is one of 25 featured in the new Straits Times e-book Guilty As Charged

    He had gained so much notoriety that after he was shot to death by the police, 33 inmates escaped from a reformative training centre just to attend his funeral.

    Lim Ban Lim, who was the most wanted gunman in Singapore and Malaysia in the 1960s, met his end in Queenstown in 1972, after being on the run for years. He was 32 years old, and was already responsible for the death of one policeman.

    Lim had been on the wanted list since 1965, after he shot and wounded a detective in Paya Lebar Road in May that year. Following the incident, the police looked for information on Lim, described to be Hokkien, about 1.65m and of medium build. But he remained at large.

    A year later, in September 1966, Lim shot another officer, Detective Allan Lee, who had arrested his friend in the lobby of the Odeon Cinema in North Bridge Road. Detective Lee was wounded in the leg.

    On June 23, 1968, Lim killed officer Koh Chong Thye, a 27-year-old corporal. It was believed that he had spotted Lim walking out of a shophouse in Rangoon Road at 1.20pm that day. He and two other officers trailed Lim to a vacant plot of land in Owen Road.

    There, Lim suddenly confronted them with a Browning automatic pistol and demanded that the corporal hand over his revolver. Corporal Koh refused and there was a struggle. The officer broke away and ran behind a parked car. But it was then that he got shot in the chest. Despite being wounded, he drew his revolver and fired back at Lim, but missed. Lim fired a second shot – this time at point-blank range and aimed at the forehead, killing Corporal Koh. This was not the end of the drama.

    Constable Cheong Yan Soon of the police’s Guard and Escort Unit, which deployed armed guards to banks for instance, picked up the dead officer’s revolver and began a running gun duel with Lim. He chased Lim through a maze of back lanes and stalls around Owen Road.

    At Serangoon Road, Lim fired at the constable before dashing into Kitchener Road. At this point, another detective turned up and also began firing at Lim, who ran into Verdun Road and then into the adjacent Sam Leong Road. Lim was able to jump into a taxi and force the driver to take him to Lavender Street, where he disappeared.

    Police conducted a massive manhunt for Lim and his picture was shown on TV. Doctors and Chinese sinsehs were urged to inform the authorities if a wounded man was seeking medical attention. During the inquiry into Corporal Koh’s death in March 1970, State Coroner Liew Ngik Kee, who returned with a verdict of murder, described the case as a typical “Hollywood-style shooting”.

    Assistant pathologist Chao Tzee Cheng said that the deceased had three bullet wounds. One struck him in the chest and went through his heart, lungs and stomach. Another hit him in the forehead and brain, and the third, his face.

    Soon after the incident, police offered a $5,000 reward for the arrest of Lim. Less than a year later, in March 1969, police doubled the reward to $10,000.

    On Nov 24, 1972, police engaged him in a final gunbattle at a pasar malam in Margaret Drive.

    Officers from the Rural West Division had a tip-off that Lim, who had returned to Singapore after spending some months in Taiwan and Macau, and his “trusted armed double”, Chua Ah Kow, would be visiting the night market. By then, there was a price of $17,000 on Lim’s head. He and Chua were wanted on both sides of the Causeway for a series of armed robberies and murders.

    At 7.30pm, six police officers laid an ambush and took up positions in the vicinity of Block 6, near Golden City Theatre. After 45 minutes, they saw Lim and Chua walk to a row of shops across the road. The duo came out of a shop 10 minutes later. Suddenly, they fled in opposite directions, firing at the police.

    Officers returned fire, but had to be extra careful as the road was crowded. Eventually, they shot Lim three times in his body. He staggered for about 10m, collapsed and died, still clutching the revolver. Chua fired two more shots at the police before managing to escape. During a gunbattle at Tank Road three weeks later, he shot himself dead to avoid being arrested.


  50. kim lean says:

    Remember the Katherine Wu case In the 1950s? She was found raped and murdered in her apartment. Her case remains unsolved to this day.

  51. Garett says:

    Please do not censor anything. Especially those political ones, else pro pap page.

  52. Gary says:

    Just recalled 3 shooting incidents that took place in SAF Camps in the 1970s and 1980s:

    1. 1970s – This took place one night at Portsdown Camp which used to house the SAF Guards Unit. If I remembered correctly, a soldier under detention in the unit guard room managed to escape. He stopped a passing taxi and jumped in and was spotted by the sentry. The sentry opened fire and shot the taxi driver in the head instead resulted in the taxi crashing into a tree. The escapee was apprehended.
    2. 1970s – This also took place in Portsdown Camp. I disgruntled NSF walked into the room of a 2LT and fired at the officer killing him. This was apparently over some issues over weekend duties being assigned to the shooter.
    3. 1987 – This took place in the SAF Provost Unit then located in the old Mowbray Camp at Ulu Pandan. The incident took place when a serviceman walked into a SAFPU Staff Sergeant’s office and shot him with a rifle. (Ref: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/newspapers/Digitised/Article/straitstimes19870718.2.4.aspx).

  53. Nordin Hayoon says:

    SMRT Bus Drivers Strike 26/11/2012 was not mentioned…..forgotten ?

  54. abuira says:

    Remember the case of nsf navy man whom went rampant stabbing random lady joggers at yishun and he finally got caught after stabbing to death a married women with kids at mandai tekong park in woodlands.

  55. marv says:

    What about the case of a section of infantry soldiers who were slaughtered in Malaysia while they were bathing in a river? My knowledge and memory is vague o this.

  56. Laxer says:

    Hii, please continue to update. I believe this year a lot of articles are shocking to Singaporeans, e.g terrorism.

  57. Peter says:

    Why no Amos Yee’s story?

    • relithci says:

      Is the Amos Yee’s story significant enough to qualify it as a headline that shook Singapore?

      • fidel catsro says:

        I would also appreciate that some mention is given to a case of rape and murder of a foreign student I think yr 2000 at Woodlands Mrt Station grounds but remains unsolved until today…I tried to find further info about this on the net but to no avail…

  58. Chao Zhouzi says:

    There was a massive blackout island wide around 1987. Took PUB a whole day restore. So severe that the PM himself came out to apologise in person.

  59. B K says:

    A great summary of SG history from the 50s onwards

    You may also wish to add a few more details on the following incidents:

    1. The racial riot of 1964…This is my own personal account…I was 12 years old then in lower secondary, my school is at Siglap. I remembered taking STC bus 20 by East Coast Road to my school, when the bus was passing by the stretch of road between Tanjong Katong Rd & Haig Rd, there was a man lying in a pool of blood next to his bicycle. The bus was as usual jam packed and all onboard saw what happened. Strangely no one panic or screamed, perhaps everyone was in shock. When I reached my school the gate was closed and the auntie worker there told me classes cancelled and told me to go home. I can’t remember I took the same bus route or the other route of straight passing through Geylang Serai and later the Kallang Gasworks area which I later understand where the riot started. Fortunately nothing happened and I arrived home safely.

    2. The Silkair MI185 disaster…A friend of mine was on that fateful flight. After the incident, relatives and friends of the victims, together with members of the public donated funds and through the governments of SG & Indo acquired a piece of land at the accident site and set up a memorial park, within which the little remains of victims recovered from the Musi River crash site were buried there. Back in SG here a memorial was also set up at Choa Chu Kang (CCK) Cemetery. Sadly, some years ago (can’t remember the year) there was a newspaper report that quite a bit of the memorial park plaques at Palembang, Sumatra was badly vandalised. Two years ago the memorial at CCK was relocated due to some land redevelopment.

  60. Paul Wee, says:

    Well done and good job on these headlined stories. I stumbled on this site while trying to locate an old senior police office Supt Mike Lim, ex ISD. MR Lim, brother of singing sensation the late Susan Lim of Singapore’s first pop band The Crescendos, was not only an outstanding officer, he was kind, impartial and exemplary.
    Will anyone who knows how to reach him, please connect me to him. Thank you very much.
    Paul Wee.

  61. FidelCatsro says:

    i still remember the woodlands town center arson incident as a 10yr old child living in a village not far from there back then…sadly no one has been caught till today

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