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Formation of the Port of Singapore Authority 1st Apr 1964

The Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) was formed on 1 April 1964 following the enactment of the Port of Singapore Authority Ordinance of 1963. PSA was the central agency responsible for managing and developing the ports of Singapore. It was formed to replace the Singapore Harbour Board and to take over certain duties of the Master Attendant.[1] The main responsibilities of PSA were to provide and maintain adequate and efficient port services; regulate and control navigation and shipping within the port limits of Singapore; and promote the use, improvement and development of the port.[2]

Before the formation of PSA, the administration of the Singapore harbour was divided between the Singapore Harbour Board and the Master Attendant.[3] On 3 August 1957, a commission headed by Sir Eric Millbourn, Honorary Adviser on Ports to the British Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, was tasked by Sir Robert Black, then Governor of Singapore, to assess all port and landing facilities in Singapore and make recommendations for their future management and development.[4]

On 26 September 1957, the committee presented its recommendations to the governor in the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Port of Singapore, also known as the Millbourn Report.[5] The committee found that the functions of the Singapore Harbour Board were too diverse, which hindered the board from focusing on its primary role of port administration. The committee proposed a number of recommendations to reorganise the port so that it could meet the demands of new political and economic environments.[6] Among the key recommendations was the establishment of a single authority that would be given sole responsibility of managing the whole port. The authority would take over the functions of the Singapore Harbour Board, together with certain functions performed by the Master Attendant. Another recommendation was for the detachment of the Dockyard and Ship Repair agency from the Singapore Harbour Board and its conversion into a wholly-owned subsidiary of the new authority.[7]

The recommendations were accepted by the government and on 5 April 1963, then Deputy Prime Minister Toh Chin Chye put forth the PSA Bill for its first reading in the Legislative Assembly. The bill proposed the constitution of PSA as the single authority to administer the Singapore port as a whole. The bill provided for the transfer of the functions, assets and liabilities of the Singapore Harbour Board established under the provisions of the Ports Ordinance (Chapter 208 of the Revised Edition), the Government and Pilot Board under the Merchant Shipping Ordinance (Chapter 207 of the Revised Edition), and the Collector appointed under the Port Dues Ordinance of 1960 (No. 22 of 1960). Accordingly, the PSA Bill would repeal certain provisions of the Merchant Shipping Ordinance (Chapter 207 of the Revised Edition).[8]

On 15 June 1963, Toh presented and defended the PSA Bill at its second reading[9] after which it was committed to a Select Committee.[10] However, no report was submitted because the Legislative Assembly was dissolved for the 1963 general election.[11] On 28 November that same year, Toh reintroduced the PSA Bill for the first reading[12] and read it a second time on 19 December[13] before it was read a third time and passed on the same day.[14]

PSA commenced operation on 1 April 1964 after Parts I and II of the PSA Ordinance were enacted.[15] Parts III and VI of the Ordinance, relating to the transfer of assets of the Singapore Harbour Board to PSA and financial provisions, also came into operation on 1 April 1964.[16] Parts IV, V and VII to XII of the Ordinance came into operation on 1 May 1964, thus finalising the establishment of PSA.[17]

In its formative years, PSA initiated a number of development projects to expand its services and to develop Singapore into a maritime centre. These projects included the establishment of Jurong Port in 1965 to support the industries at the Jurong Industrial Estate and the conversion of the British naval base into the Sembawang Shipyard in 1971. On 23 June 1972, PSA opened its first container berth at Tanjong Pagar, making Singapore the first port in Southeast Asia to accommodate third-generation container vessels.[18] PSA also took steps to improve its efficiency. In September 1964, PSA introduced a two-shift system, which is still in operation today, to ensure that ships docked at the wharves could be serviced around the clock.[19] This move earned Singapore the reputation of “the port that never sleeps”.[20]

By 1988, PSA had steered Singapore to become the world’s busiest shipping port, the second-largest container port and the top bunkering port.[21] In the face of increasing global competition, PSA was corporatised on 1 October 1997 and renamed PSA Corporation to ensure that the port remained responsive to the developments and needs of the shipping industry.[22] Following corporatisation, PSA  Corporation retained  its core business of  operating container terminals in Singapore, but  transferred  its regulatory functions to  the  Maritime and  Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).[23] PSA Corporation then became a direct subsidiary of PSA International, which was formed in December 1993 as a holding company for PSA’s businesses in Singapore and worldwide.[24]

References
1. State of Singapore. Government Gazette. Subsidiary Legislation Supplement. (1964, April 2). The Port of Singapore Authority Ordinance 1963: Date of Commencement (Sp. S 56, p. 105). Singapore: Government Printing Office. Call no.: RCLOS 348.5957 SGGLS.
2. State of Singapore. Government Gazette. Ordinances Supplement. (1964, January 1). The Port of Singapore Authority Ordinance 1963 (Ord 36 of 1963, p. 45). Singapore: Government Printing Office. Call no.: RCLOS 348.5957 SGGAS.
3. Singapore. Legislative Assembly. Debates: Official Report. (1963, June 15). Second Reading of the Port of Singapore Authority Bill (Vol. 20, col. 1375). Singapore: Government Printing Office. Call no.: RCLOS 328.5957 SIN.
4. Commission of Inquiry into the Port of Singapore. (1957). Report (p. 5). Singapore: Government Printing Office. Call no.: RCLOS 387.1095957 SIN.
5. Commission of Inquiry into the Port of Singapore, 1957, p. i.
6. Commission of Inquiry into the Port of Singapore, 1957, p. 12.
7. Commission of Inquiry into the Port of Singapore, 1957, p. 26
8. Singapore. Legislative Assembly. Debates: Official Report. (1963, April 5). First Reading of the Port of Singapore Authority Bill (Vol. 20, col. 87). Singapore: Government Printing Office. Call no.: RCLOS 328.5957 SIN.
9. Debates: Official Report, 15 June 1963, Vol. 20, col. 1375.
10. Debates: Official Report, 15 June 1963, Vol. 20, col. 1382.
11. Singapore. Legislative Assembly. Debates: Official Report. (1963, December 19). Second Reading of the Port of Singapore Authority Bill (Vol. 22, cols. 976–977). Singapore: Government Printing Office. Call no.: RCLOS 328.5957 SIN.
12. Singapore. Legislative Assembly. Debates: Official Report. (1963, November 28). First Reading of the Port of Singapore Authority Bill (Vol. 22, col. 62). Singapore: Government Printing Office. Call no.: RCLOS 328.5957 SIN.
13. Debates: Official Report, 19 December 1963, Vol. 22, cols. 976–977.
14. Debates: Official Report, 19 December 1963, Vol. 22, col. 977.
15. Government Gazette. Subsidiary Legislation Supplement, 2 April 1964, Sp. S 56, p. 105.
16. State of Singapore. Government Gazette. Subsidiary Legislation Supplement. (1964, April 17). The Port of Singapore Authority Ordinance 1963: Date of Commencement (Sp. S 62, p. 114). Singapore: Government Printing Office. Call No.: RCLOS 348.5957 SGGLS.
17. State of Singapore. Government Gazette. Subsidiary Legislation Supplement. The Port of Singapore Authority Ordinance 1963: Date of Commencement (Sp. S 65, p. 117). (1964, April 24). Singapore: Government Printing Office. Call no.: RCLOS 348.5957 SGGLS.
18. Port of Singapore Authority. (1984). Singapore: Portrait of a port: A pictorial history of the port and harbour of Singapore 1819–1984 (p. 17). Singapore: MPH Magazines. Call no.: 779.93871095957 SIN.
19. New 2-shift system at Singapore wharves. (1964, September 26). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Campbell, W. (1968, June 6). Singapore speeds up cargo handling. The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. PSA 25th anniversary: 1964–1989 (1989). (p. 1). Singapore: PSA. Call no.: RSING 387.1095957 PSA.
22. Singapore. Parliament. Parliamentary Debates: Official Report. (1997, August 25). Second Reading of the Port of Singapore Authority (Dissolution) Bill (Vol. 67, cols. 1605–1622). Singapore: Government Printing Office. Call no.: RSING 328.5957 SIN; Republic of Singapore. Government Gazette. Acts Supplement. (1997, September 19). The Port of Singapore Authority (Dissolution) Act 1997 (Act 6 of 1997, pp. 99–112). Singapore: Government Printing Office. Call no.: RSING 348.5957 SGGAS; Republic of Singapore. Government Gazette. Subsidiary Legislation Supplement. (1997, September 19). Port of Singapore Authority (Dissolution) Act (Commencement) Notification 1997 (S 419/1997, p. 1904. Singapore: Government Printing Office. Call no.: RSING 348.5957 SGGSLS.
23. Corporatisation of PSA: Moves to help PSA meet new challenges ahead. (1997, August 26). The Straits Times, p. 33. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. PSA plans legal restructuring. (2003, November 1). The Straits Times, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; PSA International. Investor Relations. Retrieved October 22, 2013, from PSA International website: http://www.internationalpsa.com/about/investorrelations.html

 

The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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