15 Feb – The fall of Singapore

15 Feb 1942 marked the The Fall of Singapore.

Chinese New Year 74 years ago was sombre and no one was in a celebratory mood.
Japan brought World War 2 to Singapore and occupied us for the next three years.
water rationing singapore

Fast forward to 21st century, Singapore is prosperous, families have the freedom to choose their lifestyles.
Basic food, sanitation and accommodation needs are fulfilled, we worry about career advancement, PSLE, COE and holidays.

I keep reminding my kids how fortunate Singaporeans are today.

But the World is not so safe. Terrorist bombings, radicalisation, North South Korea and South China Sea tensions are teachable moments for the kids. No one owns Singapore a living and we should not take Singapore’s peace and progress for granted.
Kranji War Memorial

** Every 15th Feb, SCDF’s nationwide siren, sweet potatoes and Total Defence comes to mind.
No one can guarantee that basic necessities like water and food will be available during period of tension.

Eating sweet potatoes is symbolic of the tough times which families encountered during Japanese occupation. Food was scarce, sweet potato and yam became sustenance substitutes.

Some schools are still letting kids taste sweet potatoes in school today but kids might not understand the significance. We heard some schools even let kids grow their own sweet potatoes (West Spring Primary School)

Those who grew up in the 80s and 90s, will have experienced water rationing.
Someone will inform households that water-tap will be cutoff at certain hours. When the water truck rolls into our neighbourhood, it was a novelty to bring buckets down to queue for water. (Although parents will have already stockpiled water beforehand hee hee)

We learn from young that water might not always flow from our tap.
Water rationing might be due to drought (Youtube link about water rationing in 1963), or if Malaysia decided to cut off Singapore’s water supply.

During Mahathir’s reign in the 80s and 90s, it was not uncommon to find newspaper articles of Malaysia politicians threatening to cut off Singapore’s water. (Newater is another teachable moment for the kids)

At 6.20pm on 15th Feb, sirens will blared across Singapore. During an emergency (War or terrorists), sirens might warn us to hide indoors or shelters as part of Total Defence campaign. Do you know that some MRT stations are also bomb shelters? (more details on SCDF website)

I hope kids will only experience war in Call of Duty.
the Fall of Singapore

To commemorate the 74th anniversary of the fall of Singapore, a series of heritage tours and talks has been organised (schedules here, but mostly booked)

We have a few other recommendations for families :
– Visit Kranji War Memorial
– Eat sweet potato
– Implement your own water-rationing at home, perhaps for 4 hours. (It might be too cruel to cut off internet :p )
– Discover nearest bomb shelter (MRT or HDB) in your neighbourhood (your storeroom not counted)

Every household can do the following activities :
a) Learn about CPR and evacuation (know how to react during earthquake overseas)
b) Rehearse your fire evacuation drill, or get a first aid box.
c) Blood donation, adult volunteers are always mobilised during emergencies to donate precious blood.


Singapore is not going to War, but do we know how to respond during an emergency?
How can we let the next generation know that the World out there is not as safe as Singapore?
Do you have any other tips and ideas to share?


ps.. pop by 2014 Total Defence exhibit “What will you defend?

What is Total Defence?

There are 5 pillars of Total Defence (TD), but most will only remember Military.
2014’s Total Defence theme is “Because you played a Part”.

Personally for Daddy, he still like the theme song from 2011 “Home“.

Daddy ask the boys why do we need to protect Singapore?
They understand from social studies classes that Singapore must be strong, so that we will not be bullied by other countries.

Kids naturally see the “Military” aspect of Total Defence, as it is more tangible (Hello NS Hello No4 and reservists)

But, what do they understand about the other four pillars?
– Economic, Psychological, Social and Civil Defence.

Will our economy be strong and continue to provide us with jobs, aspirations and to enjoy our way of life?

The Little India riot offers an important learning episode for everyone. Is Racial harmony a campaign or our way of life, is our social fabric still fragile 49 years after independence?

Will we stand together in the face of crisis or take the next flight out of Singapore?
Can we pick ourselves up after a disaster? (SARs, Financial crisis or terrorism threats)

Protecting Singapore is not only the job of SAF, Hometeam or SCDF.
Everyone plays a part.

For those who believe that Singapore’s neighbours are always friendly, we got enough reminders over the past week who coined the term “Little Red Dot“.

What can families expect from Total Defence 30 (TD30) exhibition at National Museum?
Total Defence 30 exhibitions

Now, our kids might not yet understand why we need to protect Singapore, but they will definitely enjoy some interactive exhibitions. SCDF, Army, Navy etc. Throw in the guns, smart No1 (kids-size), SCDF canines, and photo opportunity with Protector.

Indoor, some decisions await you. Visitors are encouraged to map out their own exploration paths. Two exhibits left a deep impression on Daddy.

– When Uncle Joseph Thio (74 years old) describes his early childhood, “racial discrimination” was unheard of in the kampong days. Everyone live in peace with each other, and look out for one another.

– Social media trolls. In this generation, some people just like to leave negative comments online. Being anonymous, some forget to extend basic courtesy and manners online.

What we will not do face to face, some become embolden online, hiding behind a nick or pseudonym. Truths are sometimes hijacked and twisted, where do we seek the answers?

Can we coexist and agree to disagree?

It was interesting to get the kids to read out the vile comments, minus the F words and other vulgarities :p

Do consider signing up for some of the activities or trails. Click here for details.

1) Forum Theatre: Wouldn’t It Be Nice?
Depicts Singapore in 2022, we are facing some crisis, how do we fend for yourselves and one another?

2) Walking Trail – Journey back to WW2 when Singapore fell to the Japanese. You will walk pass Macdonald house too (Konfrontasi, bomb explosion in Singapore).
How to register for Total Defence trail

The exhibition will lead us on a different path, and everyone will end with difference experience and expectations.

We might come up with more questions than answers.
Keep exploring, keep asking, ask ourselves, what is home, what is Singapore?

Click for more photos from ConnexionSG and National Museum Fanpage.

Gather more details from Total Defence homepage.

What : Total Defence 30: An Experiential Showcase
Where: National Museum
When: 15-23 Feb 2014

TD30 exhibition at National Museum is free.
Hurry, TD30 exhibition ends on Sunday.