Singapore Standard

Singapore Standard, also known as Singapore Tiger Standard (星洲虎报)1 or Tiger Standard (虎报, literally “Tiger news”)2 was the only English newspaper founded by Tiger Balm King, Aw Boon Haw. The paper was established in 1950 under his company Sin Poh (Star News) Amalgamated, Ltd. (星系报业有限公司), which published Chinese newspapers such as Sin Chew Jit Poh (星洲日报) in Singapore and Sin Pin Jih Pao (星槟日报) in Penang.3 The Singapore Standard ran for over nine years before it ceased publication in 1959.4

Aw wanted to establish an English newspaper in Malaya, as he felt that it could reach audiences that his Chinese papers could not, and also represent the people of Malaya. However, these plans were shelved due to the outbreak of World War II.5 In 1948, Aw announced that his English newspaper would be named “Tiger Standard”.6 Singapore Standard, as it came to be known, was launched on 3 July 1950,7 after the launch of its Hong Kong counterpart on 1 March 1949.8

The paper was helmed by Aw Hoe (胡好), the managing director and Aw’s son. Each daily issue was sold at 10 cents per copy or $3 for a monthly subscription.9 Singapore Standard was the first in the industry to deliver the papers by aircraft, so that they could reach the masses in the early morning. As soon as the papers were printed, they were sent to Kallang Airport, where a civilian Dakota aircraft would take them to Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Ipoh and other distribution points in Malaya at dawn. On board the plane making this pioneering delivery was Aw Hoe.10

On 13 January 1951, Aw Hoe and the managing editor, Paul Feng, flew from Butterworth to Kota Bharu to deliver the papers and arrange an emergency food supply for the staff of both Singapore Standard and Sin Chew Jit Poh, which Aw also managed. Unfortunately, the aircraft, with 10 passengers on board including the aircrew, went missing and did not arrive at its destination. The Singapore Civil Aviation quickly organised a search, but it was hampered by dense jungle, mountainous terrain and monsoon rain. After four weeks of search efforts, the plane wreckage was found on a mountainside in southern Thailand.11

Aw Kow (胡蛟), Aw Hoe’s brother, became the new managing director.12

In early 1953, the expansion plans for Singapore Standard were announced. Its new press office, together with Sin Chew Jit Poh, was to be a 13-storey building built on a 6,000-square-foot site at Tanjong Pagar. The expansion was part of the plan to cater to the growing demands of the newspapers, as was the new printing technology to be brought in.13

The colonial government rejected the request to import colour and printing equipment from Japan or the U.S., as it could be purchased from Britain. However, the equipment from Britain would not have arrived in time for the new offices, as they required one to two years of production. The American equipment, however, only required six months. In May 1953, Aw Boon Haw publicly urged the colonial government to support local enterprises rather than hinder them.14 After several rounds of negotiation, the colonial government finally approved the import of printing equipment from the U.S.15

In June 1954, after nearly two years of preparation, Singapore Standard commenced operations at its new office at 23 Lim Teck Kim Road. It was equipped with the latest imported technology to meet printing demands. The two new American Goss Universal Press, which cost $600,000 each, could print 48,000 copies per hour. Singapore Standard was the first in Asia to use a four-colour offset unit in printing.16

A year later, because of the continued expansion of Singapore Standard and Sin Chew Jit Poh, the latter moved back to the original office at 128 Robinson Road, leaving the office at Lim Teck Road to Singapore Standard.17

Development years
In June 1954, six newspapers, including Singapore Standard, were charged for contempt of court for publishing articles on the demonstration by 48 Chinese students against the mandatory registration of National Service. The demonstration ended up in clashes with the police on 13 May 1954. The newspapers were accused of influencing the jury before its verdict and prejudicing a fair trial, as the articles favoured the students and criticised the police for being too harsh towards them.18

On 10 June 1954, the court ordered four of the newspapers, including Singapore Standard, to be fined $50 each for each person summoned, and to pay all legal fees. Singapore Standard was fined a total of $150, while Sin Pao paid the heaviest fine of $200 – $100 each for its editor-cum-publisher and its proprietor.19

In its 3 December 1954 issue, the Singapore Standard ran a page introducing its new printing equipment.20 On the same page, it reiterated its founding principle of being “the voice of Malaya”, as articulated by its late founder, Aw Boon Haw, who had passed away in September that year.21

In the late 1950s, Singapore Standard, along with other English papers, was criticised by politicians for misleading the English-speaking community with distorted reporting.22 The papers were also warned that they would be charged under subversion laws if they attempted to stir up racial tensions between Singapore and the Federation of Malaya.23

On 1 August 1959, the front page of Singapore Standard announced its closure with effect from the next day, without stating any reasons. The announcement caught its more than 400 staff by surprise. A termination letter on the locked door of the building stated that staff would be paid their outstanding wages and a month’s pay in lieu of notice. The staff sent a petition to the Minister for Labour and Law regarding severance pay and other benefits.24

After more than a month of negotiations between the former employees and the management, it was agreed that all employees would be given an extra week of salary as severance pay, on top of the original offer. Staff who were in service for at least seven years would be given an extra month’s pay. The management also agreed to pay salary in lieu of leave, in proportion to the years of service.25

Seow Peck Ngiam

1. “Standard Tiger Standard,” Singapore Standard, 16 July 1950, 6; “Xinzhou hubao bin banshi chu zhuanche paisong shengdan liwu” 星洲虎报梹办事处 专车派送圣诞礼物 [Singapore Tiger Standard uses designated cars to deliver Christmas presents], Sin Chew Jit Poh星洲日报, 25 December 1952, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
2. “Xingxi baoye youxian gongsi lai han zhao deng” 星系报业有限公司来函照登 [The letter from Sin Poh Amalgamated Ltd Is Published], Nanyang Siang Pau南洋商报, 24 February 1971, 3; “Aw Boon Haw's New Plans,” Malaya Tribune, 23 January 1948, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
3. “Standard Tiger Standard.”
4. “After 9 Years Paper Closes Doors,” Straits Times, 1 August 1959, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
5. “A Dream Come True...,” Singapore Standard, 4 July 1950, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
6. “Aw Boon Haw's New Plans.”
7. “Singapore Standard Makes Newspaper History in Malaya,” Singapore Standard, 4 July 1950, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
8. “‘Tiger Standard’ Makes Its Appearance,” Indian Daily Mail, 2 March 1949, 1; “A Dream Come True....
9. “Singapore Standard Makes Newspaper History in Malaya”; “Standard Tiger Standard.”’
10. “Singapore Standard Makes Newspaper History in Malaya.”
11. “Wreckage of Dakota Found All Aboard Killed in Air Crash,” Sunday Standard, 11 February 1951, 1; “Casualty List,” Sunday Standard, 11 February 1951, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
12. “C-G at Standard's Birthday Party,” Singapore Standard, 4 July 1951, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
13. “Benbao ji yingwen Hubao gouzhi xinshi dayinji” 本报及英文虎报 购置新式大印机,” [Sin Chew Jit Poh and Singapore Standard buy large printing machines] Sin Chew Jit Poh 星洲日报, 29 March 1953, 5; “Benbao chuangkan ershisi zhounian jinian” 本报创刊二十四周年纪念 [The 24th anniversary of the founding of this newspaper], Sin Chew Jit Poh 星洲日报, 15 January 1953, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
14. “Malaiya weiyi huaren chuangban Yingwen bao Hubao jinzhan xunsu shebei ji dai kuochong” 马来亚唯一华人创办英文报 虎报进展迅速 设备亟待扩充 [Singapore Standard makes swift progress, facilities to be expanded] Sin Chew Jit Poh 星洲日报, 14 May 1953, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
15. “Dangdi xinwen shiye jiang fang yicai Hubao xiang Meiguo caigou xin yinji huozhun jinkou”当地新闻事业将放异彩 虎报向美国采购 新印机获准进口 [Singapore Standard acquire equipment from America, new equipment has been approved for import], Sin Chew Jit Poh 星洲日报, 23 July 1953, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
16. “Standard's New Press Prints,” Singapore Standard, 3 December 1954, 6; “Benbao jin ri qian hui luominshen lü jiuzhi” 本报今日迁囘 罗敏申律旧址 [Sin Chew Jit Poh moves back to the old address at Robinson Road today] Sin Chew Jit Poh 星洲日报, 1 May 1955, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
17. “Benbao jin ri qian hui luominshen lü jiuzhi.”
18. “Judgment Held in Papers’ Case,” Straits Times, 2 June 1954, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
19. “Four Papers Fined for Contempt,” Singapore Standard, 10 June 1954, 2; “Judgment Held in Papers’ Case.” (From NewspaperSG)
20. Standard's New Press Prints.” 
21. “The Voice of Malaya,” Straits Times, 3 December 1954, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
22. “PAP attacks the Straits Times,” Straits Times, 16 April 1959, 2; “Ex-journalist Leads PAP Attack No. 2 on the English Press,” Straits Times, 23 April 1959, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
23. “Lee Warns ‘Foreign-owned Press’,” Singapore Standard, 21 May 1959, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
24. “After 9 Years Paper Closes Doors.” Straits Times, 1 August 1959, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
25. “Standard to Meet Claims Next Week,” Straits Times, 1 September 1959, 9. (From NewspaperSG)

The information in this article is valid as at September 2021 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.

Singaporean newspapers--History
English newspapers--Singapore
Singaporean newspapers
Media organisations

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