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National Day: The first 10 years through stamps

National Day Stamps 3rd June 1960-1963
‘State Flag of Singapore’ ‘Unity of the People’
‘Industrialisation and the Workforce’ ‘Progress of Housing Development in Singapore’

Source: Singapore Philatelic Museum

If a Singaporean tells you that he/she had celebrated National day on 3 June, don't dismiss him/her too soon!

In 1959, Singapore was granted self-government for its internal affairs by the British. This meant that there was an immediate need for a government on its own.

The People’s Action Party (PAP) won the most number of seats in the 1959 election and Lee Kuan Yew became Singapore’s first Prime Minister. The government installed Yusof bin Ishak as Head of State and he was called Yang di-Pertuan Negara.

Singapore entered the 1960s with its own National Anthem, State Crest and National Flag. The National Day commemorative stamps issued between 1960 and 1963 showed the new pride as well as pressing concerns of the new state.

The new state flag was shown on the 1960 issue.

The 1961 issue featured the joining of hands of individuals from four ethnic groups, projecting the aspiration to build a harmonious multiracial society.

In the following year, an issue showing a skilled labourer turning the ‘wheel’ of industrialisation was launched.’

The 1963 issue featured public housing for the people, demonstrating the urgency to build decent housing for the growing population.

Common to all these stamps were the words ‘State of Singapore’ printed on them, showing that Singapore was yet the republic it is now, whereby the people and their representatives hold supreme power over all matters of the country.

As a state under colonial rule, Singapore remained partially under the control of the British, who continued to govern over external matters of the island. All these stamps were also dated 3 June, the day that Singapore celebrated National Day, until its merger with Malaysia in September 1963.

Singapore became part of Malaysia between 1963 and 1965. On 9 August 1965, it broke away from Malaysia and became a fully independent nation.

The First Anniversary of Independence stamp series issued in 1966 featured a multiracial workforce against a backdrop of factories, a cargo ship and a public housing apartment, reinforcing the urgency of providing employment and housing for its citizens. The words ‘Republic of Singapore’ were boldly printed on it, telling the world about this new island-nation.

National Day Stamps 9th August 1966-1968

‘Survival in a Challenging Future in a Multi-Racial Society’ ‘Build a Vigorous Singapore’

‘Work for Prosperity’

Source: Singapore Philatelic Museum

The second National Day issue in 1967 portrayed a marching contingent with the caption ‘Build a Vigorous Singapore’.

The third National Day issue in 1968 bore the exhortation ‘Work for Prosperity’.

All these stamps captured the immediate concern to build a credible and tough workforce to ensure survival in the country’s infancy stage of political and economic development.

In 1969, the theme of Singapore’s national day celebration was the 150th anniversary of its founding by Sir Stamford Raffles. The nation commemorated this occasion with a set of six stamps portraying the story of Singapore.

Six stamps from 1969, 9 August, 150th Anniversary of Founding of Singapore

Source: Singapore Philatelic Museum

The brainchild of the newly formed Stamp Advisory Committee in 1968, this set of six stamps was issued in values up to $5 and $10. Major stamp journals almost blacklisted these stamps as they felt that these commemorative stamps were priced too highly. This little ‘controversy’ added to the stamps’ repute, making them one of the most sought-after issues by ardent philatelists.

Each of these postage stamps is a tiny piece of history reflecting Singapore in its early years of struggle in nation-building. These meaningful stamp issues were last seen in 1975. After a lapse of 29 years, the National Day stamp issues made a comeback on 9th August 2003. It will be here to stay, as there will be a National Day stamp issue on every 9th August from then on.

This set of stamps marks Singapore’s 38th National Day in 2003

Source: Singapore Philatelic Museum

As Singapore celebrates its 39th birthday on 9 August this year, it is appropriate to remind ourselves of how far we have come as a nation.

About the Singapore Philatelic Museum

Discover more interesting facts about Singapore at the Singapore Philatelic Museum.
Singapore Philatelic Museum (SPM) is a fully-owned subsidiary of National Heritage Board. The mission of SPM is to stimulate interest in philately. Through philately, the Museum strives to promote the educational use of philatelic materials to learn about the world, and national history and heritage.

SPM showcases Singapore's philatelic heritage and postal artefacts since the Straits Settlements era, as well as rare collections from private collectors. The Museum also hosts a range of educational activities including guided tours, heritage trails, camps, talks and workshops.

Singapore Philatelic Museum is open on Monday (1.00pm to 7.00pm), Tuesday to Sunday (9.00am to 7.00pm). Admission fees are S$3.00 for adults and S$2.00 for children (3-12 years old).

Singapore Philatelic Museum

23-B Coleman Street   

Singapore 179807

Web site:

Source: Singapore Philatelic Museum


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Public Holidays NATIONAL DAY is the next public holiday. It falls on 9 August 2004.


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6 August 2004