1974: Not so fast*, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

1974: Not so fast*

This article is more than 12 months old

*Laju is Malay for fast

Four armed men hijacked the Laju ferryboat and held five men hostage after a failed attempt to cause severe damage to the Pulau Bukom oil refinery.

On Jan 31, the men - two from the Japanese Red Army and two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - planted explosives at three oil tanks but the blasts caused little damage.

After the rest of the explosives failed to detonate, they escaped on the Laju.

Marine police were in hot pursuit and the ferry was stopped at the Eastern Anchorage where negotiations started.

The terrorists had wanted to disrupt oil supply from Singapore to South Vietnam in support of communist North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Singapore was then the world's third-largest refining centre and if the men had succeeded, it would have caused a shortage of oil in the region for at least a few years.

Two hostages escaped during negotiations and on Feb 7, the Bukom bombers were taken to Paya Lebar Airport where they surrendered their weapons in exchange for a specially arranged flight out of Singapore to Kuwait.

To guarantee their safety, 13 Singapore government officials, two Japanese government officials and 12 Japanese Airlines crew took the same flight.

DRAMA: (Above) The DC-8 jetliner was used to fly the terrorists from Singapore to Kuwait.

Once in Kuwait, the local and Japanese government took over and the Singaporeans flew back on Feb 9.

Among the Singapore guarantors was Mr S R Nathan, who would go on to become Singapore's sixth president.

It was Singapore's first brush with international terrorism but more was soon to follow.


Birth of a lagoon

Construction of the $4 million East Coast Lagoon started. A barrier separates it from the sea, leaving an oval-shaped lagoon that is almost as big as 40 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The lagoon, which can accommodate 6,000 swimmers, was officially opened to much fanfare in May 1976. The lagoon is now a cable ski park and the East Coast Lagoon Food Village remains popular.

Got milk?

Got milk? River Valley Secondary School students were part of the Education Ministry's daily subsidised session for some 30,000 pupils in 370 primary schools. Underweight children were encouraged to drink milk to supplement their nutritional needs. By the end of the year, close to 100,000 children were part of the scheme.

Singapore HistoryUncategorisedterrorismfoodhijack