Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Singapore Poster That Discourages Long Hair.
16,500+ views for
this posting alone.
Check it out. 25.8.17

Father, father, everybody thinks we're wrong
Oh, but who are they to judge us
Simply because our hair is long
Oh, you know we've got to find a way

To bring some understanding here today

What's Going On? - Marvin Gaye

In the early 70s government offices in Singapore clamped down on males sporting long hair because it spelt gangsterism. For present generation readers who don't believe this is true, the above poster from the 70's National Library Archives proves it.

Led Zeppelin  (Google Images)
I remember an incident where a man with long hair was queuing up at a government department to pay his bills. He was told by an officer that he would be served last. The man was taken aback but quietly took his place at the end of the line.

To make matters worse, the country discouraged and finally banned pop music as it was termed yellow culture. Singapore's pop music industry faded after all its glory and support from that generation.

The industry was a thriving and decent way for both amateur and professional musicians to make an honest. But because of these circumstance it died an unnatural death. Many enthusiasts moaned the local pop music's demise and up to this day the industry never really recovered.

Bee Gees in Singapore
Jimmy Page and his new band Led Zeppelin had their show cancelled on 14th February, 1972 because they refused to cut their long hair. Also in the same year the Bee Gees were all here in Singapore to play their music but were forced home immediately after performing on stage at the National Theatre on March, 21st because their hair were too long.

The Hekk that performed at Hotel Malaysia in Singapore in March 1973, was a five piece band much renowned for their long hair by the Australian rock group circuit. Each member of the group gave up two feet of their beautiful locks so that they could perform for three months at The Pub and Discotheque. The members were Peter McCormack, Anthony Sampson, Edwin Boath, Veda Man and Peter Austen.
The Strollers from Malaysia. (Google Images).

Below is a Singapore Press Holdings unedited description to explain the above poster: 

"The government is to step up the campaign against the cult of the long unkempt hair among males in the Republic. For some time now certain government departments, like immigration and schools as well as institutions of higher learning had been taking action against males with long and unkempt hair. 

The campaign will take another step forward when all government offices dealing with the public will display posters in English, Chinese and Malay with the message: 'Males with long hair will be attended to last' (20.06.1972)."

To be fair to the Singapore government, not only did this island discourage males from sporting long hair.  Other countries in the 70's followed the same trend. Cities like Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Seoul in South Korea, Melbourne in Australia and even Dublin in Ireland were strict with male students who sported long hair. 

I guess Singapore went just one step further. It included all males, young and old.

You Tube Bee Gees - Lonely Days (1970).
Image 1: National Heritage Board, Singapore.
Images 2,3: Google.


Anonymous said...

Posted by: hellgirl
Posted on: June 6th, 2011

Long hair... not allowed in the seventies in singapore? That`s new for me!

Anonymous said...

Posted by: pool
Posted on: June 6th, 2011

Probably because the authorities tried to limit the penetration of hippie culture

Andy Young* said...

Posted by: FL
Posted on: June 9th, 2011

Hi, malcomyoung91,
I remember there was a new report in the 1970s, that Cliff Richard, then with long hair and on the way to Singapore, was refused entry, too. I also recollect that during the 1970s, my NS mates who turned up for ICTs with long hairs (a fashion then), were rounded up to the army barber straight away !

Andy Young* said...

Thank you all for the comments from yesterday.sg.

Appreciate your replies. So 'hellgirl' now you know. It was serious then, to have long hair.

And malcolmyoung91,
Thanks for all that info. it's fantastic.

FL: you were right. Even Cliff was not allowed.

Celine said...

Does anyone know where to locate a copy of the Long Hair poster? I'm trying to find one for an exhibition, but the National Archives and the National Library Board don't seem to have a copy in their collection. If you have any idea, can you contact me at Celine@evilempire.asia please? Thank you!

Andy Lim* said...

Why don't you just enlarge the one on the blog? Won't cost much.

Andy Lim* said...

Thank you Jack wherever you are from. Appreciate your interest in the topic.

We've had our days of yore and the trials we went through but I think it's all for the better now.

We're not that sparkling anymore although the authorities that to keep it that way.

But you can still hear 60s music everywhere and anywhere...

Jack High said...

You are welcome Andy. I was a British school boy in 68-70 at St John´s service school.I was also a great fan of "The Barbed wire" "Concrete parachute"and "Fried Ice"among other bands.I have kept up an interest in the "City state´s " music scene ever since i left.Glad to see you are keeping people informed of your Heritage.

Andy Lim* said...

Thanks again Jack for your interest in our bands and music. You can write in anytime to make comments or provide nostalgia on this blog.

Alan Thompson from England who served at the RAF in the 60s has a permanent place on this blog having posted numerous articles about his experiences in Singapore with his guitar group.

Appreciate your visits.

JACK HIGH said...

This was part of a general crackdown on Western "Pop Culture" and decadent behaviour by the youth.There was a ban of "Hippies" entering Singapore from as early as April 1970 and the closure of many venues playing western rock music at the start of 1970.

The list of banned songs was long but included such harmless titles a "Up up and away in my beautiful ballon" "Puff the magic dragon"...
Check out the Singapore National Library for more info there are a number of Straits Times articles that you may help you in your understanding of why long hair was banned.

Don´t forget that Singapore had only just become a nation and a sense of citizenship and what it meant to be a Singaporian was in an early stage of development.

As Lee Kuan Yew put it in early 1970.Hippies were "permissive , escapist , drug-taking , self-indulgent promiscuous people " And you didn´t get to see the Woodstock film . That was banned in January 1971!


Posted by: malcolmyoung91
Posted on: June 7th, 2011

It is (or at least was) fairly well known that Singapore had certain restrictions on men with long hair for a period during the 1970s (not really sure if this lasted for the entire decade or not).

People I've met that travelled through Singapore in that era mentioned signs at the airport (similar to the one shown on this website). I think there was also a hairdresser at the airport whereby male travellers who had arrived into Singapore could elect to get their hair cut, if it was deemed too long by the authorities (and if they didn't get it cut, they would be refused entry).

I have a book at home (I think it's the one written by Alex Josey about Lee Kuam Yew), and for memory it quotes one of the senior police officers in Singapore at the time. He more or less says "Long hair is associated with hippyism, and hippyism is associated with drug use. Therefore, long hair on men is banned in Singapore".

As far as bands go, one of the more famous incidents occurred also in 1972, when Led Zeppelin (then the biggest band in the world) were on their way to Australia to perform massive concerts in each capital city. On their way out to Australia from England, they stopped over in Singapore - and they were supposed to play a concert in Singapore. However, they due to their long hair, they were not even allowed to get off the plane!

This is a fairly well known incident among fans of Led Zeppelin and accounts of this appear in various books written about the bend

bazwalker1 said...

Hi Andy,

Cat Stevens and Buddy Miles were also refused entry into Singapore because of their long Hair.

I remember quite a lot of the bands playing in Singapore had to report to immigration once a month for an inspection.If your hair had grown you were told to get it cut. Some of the guys used to miraculously pin their hair up and for the inspection somehow survived, only to be caught when immigration officers used to appear at the venues and catch us.

I remember being in a queue in a post office almost opposite Koek Road where there was a poster, and being moved further to the back of the queue if the person in front or behind had shorter hair.It could take an hour or two to get a stamp !

The Chinese Emporium in Orchard Road used to sell real hair wigs that some of the military guys wore to cover up their short hair as did a few of the "Bandboys"

Very best regards

Barry Walker

bazwalker1 said...

Hi Andy,

You don't seem to have acknowledged
my previous e-mails.

Please advise on how to upload/download photos.

Very best regards


Andy Lim* said...

I don't remember you writing to me Barry. Best if you write again and leave me an email address so I could reply. I shall not publish your letter.

I do not publicly encourage the downloading of photographs as most are copyright.

I understand you were in Singapore earlier on this year?

Thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said...

singapore is a modern and efficient state.the policy against long hair on men made the place unappealling to beggarly western hippy types,and thus abated a mental illness fallout that has plagued Briain,Europe,and the North american states.looking at the efficiency of singapore and the pathetic state of Britains youth and drug dependant "men",i am convinced that the laws of Singapore should be implimented here,in the U.K.Hanging for drug dealers would be teriffic,and "personal" drug users.men having long hair and beards and taking brain damaging substances,are a reversion back to the stone age and further on into the dark ages-very unprogressive and backward.nothing anyone can consume makes anyone more brainless than drugs.

Andy Lim* said...

Thank you Watyne for taking a stand. I appreciate your sincere comment that many others have avoided.

When I lived in Northern America in the 80s there were a number of University students I met who have always objected to my stance regarding drug abuse since they respected the concept of "free will" and considered Singapore a "repressive" society.

Anonymous said...

Malaysia also had a restriction on perceived hippies and flower children. Quite ironic actually, as quite a number of the corporate and technology magnates we worship and use their iStuff were actually hippies. Steve Jobs & Wozniak come to mind.



Andy Lim* said...

Thanks Anonymous for your comment. At the end of the day, the intelligent ones know which road to take. Could the others have ended up as junkies?

Sing 50 said...

Hello Andy,

I want to thank you for all your posts on Singapore's history. Your passion and dedication to educating our younger generations on our musical heritage is truly inspiring. They're extremely helpful in painting a picture of what life and music was like then.

Sing50 (hope you've heard of it!) is a concert to be held on Aug 7 this year, celebrating 50 years of Singapore music. If you ever want to keep in touch with us, our email is at sing50enquiries@gmail.com & our Facebook is fb.me/SGSing50.

Cheers, and please keep doing what you do. Written on behalf of the Sing50 social media team.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Sing 50 social media team,

I am flattered that the team recognises my posts and find them helpful as I have been doing it for 6 years now.

I am aware of the big show to be held on August 7th and wish it will help establish and reinforce Singapore's musical heritage.

Do keep in touch.

Anonymous said...

unless those contries allow men to have long hair. i would say that those countries are not sutiable for me to live in anymore. that is why i am never proud being a citizen in a country which has an ill- gotten reputation and fame.i detested singapore ,sorry no offence SinGaporeans

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

No offence meant Anonymous but the situation in the 70's was different. We had what was known and labelled as "Yellow Culture", a belief whereby that certain social western acceptance like long hair and the hippies had to do with drug taking and drug trafficking (which is banned in Singapore). And drugs among youth could have strangled and killed our society.

Today you can have as long a hair style as Rapunzel and no one will bother. But if you're caught with illegal drugs, then you're in trouble. Simple as that. Whether the country "has an ill-gotten reputation and fame" is totally a matter of opinion.

Thank you for visiting this blog. Please visit it again.

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