More govt records, including National Day rally speeches, available on National Archives portal

More government records, including speeches and key national developments, are now available to the public on the National Archives of Singapore's online portal.
More government records, including speeches and key national developments, are now available to the public on the National Archives of Singapore's online portal.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE -Speaking from a podium, and addressing the young nation at the 1968 National Day Rally, then Prime Minister of Singapore Mr Lee Kuan Yew, said it had been a "splendid year" for the country.

Determination and confidence written across his face, he said that "the figures sparkle" and that the next step was to chart out the course for the year ahead.

Stirring speeches, key national developments and the challenges the country faced year-on-year, as captured in the annual National Day speeches and messages, are now available to the public on the National Archives of Singapore's (NAS) online portal http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/.

They include Mr Lee's early rally speeches that were delivered in Hokkien from 1966 to 1979.

The recent addition of about audio-visual recordings, was announced by Minister of Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim (MCI) at his ministry's work plan seminar on Thursday (April 28).

These clips were assembled over the past year by NAS' audio visual technical team which worked to sync silent film footage with sound tapes.

Mr Yaacob said these speeches give an insight into the outlook of the nation's leaders at each stage of the country's development. He said: "These National Day speeches will help us gain a better understanding of the challenges that Singapore faced, the aspirations that our leaders shared with our fellow citizens and the policies that have shaped Singapore and made it what it is today."

NAS has also uploaded papers presented by various ministries, state organisations and institutions including Government white papers and annual reports of statutory boards onto its portal, starting from 2011.

More papers from 1955 to 2010 will be digitised and added to the portal over the next two years.

NAS was established in 1968 with just 15,000 records. Its archive has grown to more than 10 million records. It became an institution under the National Library Board in 2012. Its portal gets about 400,000 page views a month.

NAS director Mr Eric Chin said it was good to put the information about Singapore, in the hands of Singaporeans themselves.

He said: "These were materials which somebody might have found in different places, but we have broughtthem all together to make them accessible and searchable on one platform.

"We hope these new initiatives will be a wonderful new resource for Singaporeans whether they are just researchers or Singaporean interested in the history of Singapore."

NAS will also be launching the Singapore Policy History Project in July. The project will present the various policies undertaken by MCI and are substantiated by a stable of content including declassified Government files, photographs and oral history recordings.

One set of files from the 1950s and 1960s focuses on Singapore's war against communism. Files show how the Communists channelled propaganda into Singapore's shores.

The records show "soft-selling" of this propaganda through cultural performances, cartoons, and songs such as the Fisherman's Song at Sea - a Teochew song in which an old fishermen and his daughter sing about the "happy life of fishermen" after the (Communist) liberation and "the beautiful and expansive seas of the motherland".

Mr Yaacob said the National Library and the National Archives will be working to improve the collections of works published in Singapore, works about Singapore, and Government records in the next few years.

They will also provide greater access to archival records and enhance preservation work of at-risk records.