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Singapore
 

Fun facts about made-in-Singapore products

Published on Aug 20, 2014 8:55 PM
 
(From left) Mint Museum of Toys curator Richard Tan with a set of Blue Box Knights; Ms Shanya Amarasuriya with a model of the golden orchids that former president S R Nathan presented to Queen Elizabeth II in 2002; Bibi&Baba managing director Quek Chin Tiong and his wife Helen Lyou with one of the first children’s clothing designs the company made; Mr Darius Huang and his father George Huang holding Amocan chicken curry and soya sauce and NHB group director Alvin Tan with a bottle of Singapore Girl perfume and the Perfumes of Singapore catalogue. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA 

SINGAPORE - Home grown products such as toys, perfumes and children’s apparel are now on display at the National Library in Victoria Street.

They are part of a roving preview exhibition called “Made In Singapore Products” which aims to showcase some of Singapore’s pioneering products and manufacturing achievements. Organised by the National Heritage Board, products featured in the preview exhibition are on display from now till Sept 30 at the National Library.

The preview will travel to libraries in Jurong West, Bedok, Bishan, Queenstown and Tampines over the next few months.

The full exhibition, which will run in July 2015 as part of the nation’s golden jubilee celebrations, will feature 50 products from 50 companies.

We look at interesting facts about some of the Made-in-Singapore products:

Bibi&Baba

A set of children's clothing which was one of the first designs by Bibi&Baba. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

The company, which specialises in the production of uniforms today, was started by Madam Nina Hwang in 1947. Back then, it was the only shop in Singapore which retailed locally-made party apparel for children.

Over the course of its history, the company supplied to major retailers such as Macy’s, Gap and Marks & Spencer. Bibi&Baba was also behind a summer dress worn by Princess Diana on her 1983 Australian tour.

It was recognised as a “Heritage Brand” by the Singapore Prestige Brand Awards in 2007.

Blue Box Toys

A set of Blue Box Knights, made in the 1960s in Singapore. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

The toy manufacturer was started in 1952 by Hong Kong entrepreneur Peter Chan. In 1968, it opened its first factory in Kallang Industrial Estate at an event officiated by then finance minister Goh Keng Swee.

The factory produced toys such as Blue Box Knights. It closed down in 2003.

Today, Blue Box Holdings, which has three manufacturing plants in China, continues to produce toys that are carried by retailers such as Toys R Us, Target and Wal-Mart.

Amoy Canning

Amoy Canning's curry chicken and dark soya bean sauce. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

The family-run company is known for supplying the Singapore Armed Forces with combat rations between the 1960s and 1980s.

The company, which was founded in 1908 in China, set up an office here in 1949. Today, Amoy Canning Singapore’s core business continues to be the manufacturing and distribution of food and beverage products under its brands Amocan, Delite, Amofood and Cixin Vegetarian.

The company is now run by third-generation owner George Huang, 64, and his 27-year-old son.

Perfumes of Singapore

The Singapore Girl perfume and the Perfumes of Singapore catalogue. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

After a visit to perfume houses in Europe, Singaporean socialite Christina Lee and her ex-husband set up Perfumes of the Orient. It had two factories - one in Jurong and another in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. The first scents it produced included Chinta, May Ling, Bali and Javanesque.

After her divorce, Ms Lee married Indian businessman and well-known perfume creator Dadi Balsara who rebranded the scents under the name Perfumes of Singapore.

The couple then launched a new scent called Singapore Girl. This was popular among locals and tourists and sold well at department stores, hotels and on board Singapore Airlines’ planes. It even picked up the Singapore Manufacturers Association’s top prize for best design and packing in 1977.

The company closed down in the 1990s after her husband secured support from the Indian government to undertake large scale projects in India.

Three Legs Cooling Water

Concocted in the late 1930s by the Wen Ken Group, 250 million bottles and cans of the drink were sold worldwide last year. -- ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

Concocted in the late 1930s by the Wen Ken Group, the drink was targeted at coolies suffering from "heatiness" after labouring in the tropical heat. It was cheaper than visiting a Chinese physician. Last year, 250 million bottles and cans were sold worldwide. 

Heng Long tannery

Heng Long tannery's master tanner Koh Chon Tong and his brother, executive director Koh Choon Heong. -- ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton bought a majority stake in Heng Long tannery in 2011. The family-run business is one of the three largest exotic skin tanneries in the world and has been supplying fashion houses in Europe from their Defu Lane factory for decades. The tannery can trace its roots to 1947 when founder Koh Long Cheok and his fisherman father sold watch straps, belts and souvenirs to British forces from their tannery in Tampines Road. 

Chop Wah On

Chop Wah On was set up in 1916 in Pagoda Street. -- ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

The company was set up in 1916 in Pagoda Street. Its products include crocodile oil for skin-related ailments. 

UIC Consumer Products

Established here in 1964, UIC Consumer Products is known for its powdered laundry detergent and infectious jingle. -- ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

Established here in 1964, UIC Consumer Products is known for its powdered laundry detergent and infectious jingle, as well as UIC Big Value, Spin and Sofsil, a fabric softener. The Singaporean company is also big on producing environmentally friendly products. 

Axe brand

Mr Jimmy Leong, the business development manager of Leung Kai Fook Medical Co, maker of Axe Brand Oil. He is seen here with old paraphernalia from his company. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN

Axe brand universal oil is produced by Singaporean business Leung Kai Fook. The company can trace its roots to 1927 when its founder Mr Leung Yun Chee, came to Singapore from Shunde, China to work for a German pharmaceutical company. At the German company, he was given the formula for the medicated oil by a German physician. Later, he set up his own business which continues to be run by his sons and grandchildren today. 

Boncafe

Boncafe's design for the packaging of its signature line of roasted and ground coffee products, as well as its tea product, in 2006. -- PHOTO: BON COFFEE

In 1962, Swiss commodities trader Werner Ernst Huber opened Singapore's first coffee-roasting factory in Jurong to produce gourmet coffee tailored to the taste of the expatriate community. His son Christian took over the business, Boncafe International, in 2008. The founder died in 2011. 

Setron

Setron Limited produced the first locally assembled television sets in September 1965. By the 1970s, it had become a household brand in Singapore, known for the durability and reliability of its television sets. -- PHOTO: SETRON

The first few black and white sets rolled off Setron’s factory lines at Leng Kee Road in May 1965. The company was established by a group of local businessmen with capital of $320,000 and it was the first company in Singapore to produce television sets. 

Tiger Brand Soya Sauce

Chuen Cheong Food Industries managing director Chia Weng Kaye. -- PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN

Made by Chuen Cheong Food Industries, it is one of the oldest brands of soya sauce in the region. Set up in 1930 by Chia Hou who came from Guangdong, China, the business is managed by the fourth generation of the Chia family today. 

Rollei

The front of a Rollei camera. -- PHOTO: NATIONAL HERITAGE BOARD

The back of a Rollei camera. -- PHOTO: NATIONAL HERITAGE BOARD

To stay competitive against Japanese camera manufacturers, the company shifted its production to Singapore in 1971 where it invested $149 million over a period of 10 years. In 1981, Rollei’s parent company went bankrupt and 4,000 workers were retrenched. The cameras produced here were engraved with the words Made by Rollei Singapore. 

Khong Guan

Khong Guan sultana biscuits that were made in Singapore (top). -- FILE PHOTO: JAMES HODSON

Set up in 1947 after World War II, two brothers Chew Choo Keng and Chew Choo Han used war-damaged biscuit-making machines to start their first biscuit production line. Today, its products can be found on supermarket shelves worldwide. Here, Khong Guan is popular for its lemon puff and sultana biscuits. 

 

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