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Posted on Sunday, August 17, 2003
Topic: Local News
Local News
by Kway Png

Every National Day, we’re always reminded of the big deeds and events that have made us the successful, orderly and clean nation that we are. But what about the many small incidents that have also contributed to making us the kiasu, petty and just downright irritating folks we live with on a day-to-day basis? & Coxford Singlish Dictionary editor COLIN GOH bring us an honour roll of dubious but no less influential moments in Singapore’s post-independence history…

10 August 1965: The day after independence, the first Malaysian joke is told by Mr. Joe Kheng Onn Lee to his friends at a coffee shop around Shenton Way. The exact nature of the joke has been lost in antiquity, though it is believed to have something to do with the number of people needed to change a lightbulb.

28 August 1965: Siglap resident and band member Mr. Cedric Bonaventura De Rozario is the first person to have his race classified as ‘Other’ under the new identity card programme.

22 September 1967: Newly returned from his doctoral studies in Adelaide, scientist and future politician Dr. Tony K.Y. Tan discovers the marvels of Code 10 hair cream.

3 January 1968: Staff Sergeant Hara Singh starts a National Service tradition by being the first to punish a recruit by ordering him to run towards a distant tree, touch it and then come back.

25 January 1971: Mr. Sukar bin Mohd Bulu becomes the first person to be served last in a government office under the Anti-Long Hair policy of the 70s. Traumatized by the discrimination, Mr. Sukar founds the popular Sri Rambut chain of barbers.

11 November 1971: ‘Quitters’ make their first appearance when John Denver’s ‘Country Roads’ storms the local pop charts and leads hundreds of Singaporeans to plead for country roads to take them home to the place they belong, i.e. West Virginia.

30 April 1975: Mr. Quah Lang Gah is the first person to take down the licence plate numbers of cars involved in an accident and play them in the lottery.

2 March 1977: ‘Balik kampung’ is shouted by Singapore supporter Mr. Haji Pulang bin Rumah for the first time during a Malaysia Cup match at the Kallang Stadium. Malaysia eventually acceded to his popular plea in 1994 by deciding to keep the M-League entirely within Malaysia, thus excluding Singapore. A remorseful Mr. Haji Pulang has now decided to stick to shouting ‘referee kayu’ instead.

4 October 1979: Mr. Chia Teck See is the first cabbie to deliberately hide till past 12 am, in order to be able to charge passengers the past-midnight surcharge.

21 September 1982: Miss Ho Pai Kuah becomes the first Singaporean to construct a stuffed toy diorama in the back window of her car. She later goes on to become the first person to drape t-shirts over her car seats. She feels aggrieved that she has yet to receive a Cultural Medallion nomination for her contributions to the local arts scene.

25 December 1983: The first ‘function’ is held at a specially-booked RELC conference room by 15 year-olds Depeche Seiko de Spandau and Akina Taylor de Duran (born Chee Nah Beng and See Bay Lian respectively).

5 July 1984: Mr. Khee Chiam Ban is the first person to be caught on tape urinating in a lift.

13 May 1985: Mr. Chee Ter Bak is the first Singaporean convicted of only folding back the tabs on car park coupons and re-using them.

4 March 1988: Mr. Khoon Buay Kee is the first Singaporean MRT commuter to pretend to be asleep when a pregnant woman enters the carriage.

20 June 1989: The first ever karaoke wedding is organized by Mr & Mrs Theah Kao Hsien.

14 June 1989: Mr. Lao Ter Koh, 89, is the first person to purchase a ticket to see an R(A) movie.

28 February 1990: Mrs. Sevasita Chopalingam is the first Singaporean to use a tissue paper packet to ‘chope’ (reserve) a seat. She performs the act at Newton Hawker Centre, but goes on to repeat it at various other food courts, the Victoria Concert Hall, and also to save her spot in an overnight line to buy a condo.

17 March 1996: Mr. Boey Pai Say becomes the first hawker to attach the adjective ‘Famous’ to his stall’s name, despite the lack of independent corroboration about the popularity of his food.

4 November 1997: Much to the horror of his employees, confectionery store owner Mr. Baey Ker Lee decides on a whim to try mixing pork floss with mayonnaise.

22 August 1999: Technopreneur Ng Yah Hu manages to secure $250,000 in venture capital for his new economy business plan, which consists entirely of choping the domain name and then reselling it.

12 May 2000: Inspired by a WITS meeting at his reservist unit, Mahmud Sejenis bin Quehdada returns to his stall at West Coast Hawker Centre and invents the first ever plaster prata – an innovation that sparks off the creation of the paper prata, the tissue prata, the twin-ply prata and the origami prata, making Singapore the hub for prata innovation. Mr. Mahmud also claims to be the first to put cheese in prata, but his contention is disputed by fellow prata practitioners.

28 November 2002: Smallest maid’s room ever designed by local architects Frank Loy Lai & Partners.

10 August 2003: In celebration of Singapore’s more liberal social scene, Mr. Ho Say Leow, 23, is the first person to simultaneously bungee jump, dance on a bar top and chew gum. He is also gay.

© 2001-2003. All rights reserved.
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    Related Singlish words
  • AH BENG  
  • BALIK  
  • CAB  
  • BENG  
  • AK  
  • COCK  
  • BUAY  
  • CHOPE  
  • FRIEND  
  • GOT  
  • HENG  
  • HO SAY  
  • HOR  
  • KAYU  
  • KIASU  
  • LOR  
  • MAI  
  • MAIN  
  • MAT  
  • WHAT  
  • ULU  
  • TUA  
  • SUKA  
  • SIAN  
  • ONE  
  • POR  
  • NAH  
  • GER  
  • KAY  
  • LI  
  • LU  
  • KWAY  
  • TIO  
  • HOPE  
  • STER  
  • KING  
  • EX  

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