Friday, June 28, 2013

Mata Mata, RAF Soccer Team, 1st NDP Contingent, Roti John

Remembering Our First National Day: August 9th 1966

Happy Tay who lived in Singapore during its early years contributes regularly to this blog.  He now resides in Vancouver B.C.

Hello Andy,

Sorry for being off the air for awhile.  I have decided to write to you, especially after reading the article from Allan Thompson.  I don't recall relating to you of my experiences with the RAF during the '60s...
Singapore's National Football Team in the 60s from
I had signed up with the RAF as a police officer immediately after school and was 18 years old then.  I was sent to the RAF Base in Changi for my 6 months intensive training, where I excelled in soccer, representing the RAF Police and later the RAF Changi Team. Most of the players were Caucasians, made up of top footballers from the UK, and they were really good at soccer! To be picked, especially if you're a local, for the soccer team, you have to be really good.
The first National Day Parade at the Padang in 1966.
For this team, I was one of only two Asian or local representative for RAF Base, Changi, Seletar, and Tengah. If I remember correctly the other player, Hussein Hashim, also went on to play for the Singapore Malays FC.  They really had great players at that time and  if you recall the Singapore National Team consisted of legendary players like Quah Kim Swee, Lee Kok Seng, Wilfred Skinner, Matmoon Sudasi, Lee Teng Yee, Ali Astar, Quah Kim Siak, Rahim Omar, Majid Ariff, to name a few.

After Basic Military Training (BMT), I was selected for further training with the Intelligence Unit since we were facing confrontation with Indonesia and the Communists. During this period, Singapore did not have its own police or army so we had to rely on the British and Malaya.  The rest is history.
Changi Village from:
I had served for 3 years before being recruited by the newly formed Singapore Police Force or Police Republic Singapura to serve as an instructor at the then Police Training School which was later known as the Police Academy. I was also involved in the first Singapore National Day Parade (NDP), marching with great pride, together with the first Police Contingent and led by the well-known Police Band. Policemen are known as mata mata (Malay word for eyes) in Singapore.

The starting point was then at Beach Road (opposite the SIR Army Camp). Singapore had only the SIR, or the Singapore Infantry Regiment, as its very own army. There were about 350,000 people who turned out in the city to celebrate that first birthday on 9th August, 1966.  Just thought you might find something interesting along the way of my recollection, Andy! 

Roti John

Another thing that I wanted to add were the many Mama (Indian) food stalls located along Changi Village, which were frequented by the RAF personnel and their families. One of the local food (and favourite) or rather comfort food that came to my mind was the popular *Roti John.  It was made of bread (in many ways similar to the present Subway) with fillings of fried egg, salad, onion, topped with tomato sauce and costing less than a dollar then. Later, beef was included but with an additional charge. 
Sunny Bala and Moonglows
On Fridays and Saturdays, we have our local band playing at some of the lounges at the Base itself.   They included names like Sonny Bala and the Moonglows, Impian Bateks, and others. They were very popular and most of these lounges were so filled that it was standing room only every weekend. These venues became a must go to places for the Servicemen  and their spouses or dates. Beers were very cheap then (duty exempted) costing less than a dollar a can! 

Those were the days, with lots of great memories, too!  Cheers my friend, and wishing you the very best.
Guru Happy.

The Impian Bateks.
Dear Happy,

Thank you very much for your regular and generous contribution to this blog. I appreciate what you are doing and hope readers, especially Singaporeans, are just as appreciative.

Yours Sincerely,

*Roti John (a local version of an omelette burger but freshly grilled) is still very much in demand today and popular with both Singaporeans and foreigners.
Information from: Happy Tay Vancouver, BC (Copyrights Reserved).
Images: Google and Andy Lim Collection.



Singapore celebrated its first National Day in 1966, one year after Singapore's separation from Malaysia on 9 August 1965.

LCS said...

Hi Andy,

I have been approached by a film production company to participate in a new programme that they are producing for a TV Station. The show is about life in Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s. Hence I have agreed to support them to look for interviewees for their show.

TOM said...

Teresa Khoo Filmer was my piano teacher for almost a decade and she nurtured me since I was 8. She would tell me countless stories about her childhood but she never told me she was a pop star! I just recently found out about the news and I was so shocked.
I hope that her talents and memories will be cherished and passed on to future generations.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Happy,

Thank you so much for your heartfelt reaction to the article by Thompson. I am sure he will be thrilled. You are a very adventurous and outdoor go-getter. I shall certainly make it another posting with pictures and all.

MG said...

Hi Mr Lim,

Thanks for the introduction!

Mr Lim, would you be free for a short conversation, where I can share more about the upcoming project with you?


Note on Photograph:

Sonny Bala & The Moonglows, feature Teddy Song, Donald Thaver and Sanny Ismail.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Kugiran Impian Bateks were active in the 1960 and had made vinyl recordings with their late singer Ruddin.

Impian Batiks were a combination of groups D'Impian and The Batiks. They joined forces and played songs similar to The Beatles but had compositions of their own for their recordings.

Translated and edited into English from Wikipedia.

Anonymous said...

yes, I remember Wilfred Skinner. He used to play with us whenever the kids play at the field in Katong . the other kids included the boys from the bands Straydogs, as dennis and i were literally nieghbours.
i also remember the matches that i got to see because Wilfred had got to get us into the stadium free. we saw some good matches between singapore and some top English 1st divison teams .

fond memories there.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks Tan for interesting insight about Wilfred Skinner. He was a St Andrew's boy and I was his junior. We used to watch him practise soccer with the other boys at the school's football field which is now the PIE highway.