Inaccurate Historical KTM Facts on Singapore Memory Project (irememberSG)

A post from the Singapore Memory Project (irememberSG) about the KTM history in Singapore has been making rounds on my WhatsApp (not sure if other railway fans have already got it), but it is a memory about a supposed “KTM day” with a grossly inaccurate fact about the date of the closure of the railway in Singapore.


Here’s the original post reproduced from the Singapore Memory Project:

Poorly Photoshoppped Photo for Fake News

ADDED BY
KTM kolektif

MEMORY OF
KTM kolektif

DATE
30/06/1962

These are our pioneer train drivers, senior drivers with more than 30 years experience since the 1930s, who have driven various steam locomotives on regular trips between Negeri Sembilan and Tanjong Pagar Station.

On 30th June 1959, The KTM union in Negeri Sembilan decided to designate that day as KTM day. It was a day when the junior train drivers and friends of KTM would celebrate their appreciation to the senior train drivers by giving them garlands and throwing a small party.

Eventually, staff in other stations in the Southern states and even Tanjong Pagar station began celebrating KTM day.

The governments of Singapore and Malaysia honoured and recognized KTM day by tying in the closing ceremony with the last day of train services to the station on 30th June 2011.

This photograph was taken on KTM day in Tanjong Pagar Station, 1962.

Source: Singapore Memory Project


Wow, where do I even begin.

Since I am unable to comment much if “KTM day” is a real event or not, I will avoid this point. However, in case there was a mix-up of the meaning of the day, KTM did celebrate its 125th Anniversary on 1 June 2010, possibly with the meaning of “KTM day”, so there’s that.

(If there are members from RUM, perhaps you could help chip in for the above part on the annual “KTM day” if it exists.)

Let’s start with the article first.

These are our pioneer train drivers, senior drivers with more than 30 years experience since the 1930s, who have driven various steam locomotives on regular trips between Negeri Sembilan and Tanjong Pagar Station.

Trains operated between Singapore up to Penang. However, giving the article the benefit of doubt, this could be referring only to Gemas Crew and Singapore Crew.

The governments of Singapore and Malaysia honoured and recognized KTM day by tying in the closing ceremony with the last day of train services to the station on 30th June 2011.

This is possibly the triggering paragraph for me to write this post. All dates in the Malaysia–Singapore Points of Agreement Supplement 2010 states that the closure of the railway is “by 1 July 2011” and not “on 30 June 2011” as suggested by the author. This means that the railway could close any time between the announcement and 1 July 2011, not necessarily to be on the last possible day on 30 June 2011 itself. This also means that there was no consideration for the closure to be held on a supposed “KTM day” since there is a range of dates provided. Also, most KTM staff did not receive the shocking first news of the closure of the railway from internal circulars before the official announcement but rather from the same news that you and I saw on TV, newspapers and other media – which also means that the closure of the railway might not even have been consulted with KTM beforehand, let alone to have it commemorated on a supposed “KTM day”.

Now, let’s get to that incriminating photo used by the Singapore Memory Project.

Poorly Photoshoppped Photo for Fake News

Here it is again for easier referencing. Let’s start from left to right.

On first look, the photo already looks weird to me. Partly because most old photos have already been seen by members of the Malayan Railway Fan Club and are easily recognizable. This is a new photo that probably none of us have seen before, for good reason.

The author, KTM kolektif, claims that “This photograph was taken on KTM day in Tanjong Pagar Station, 1962.”. From top left to bottom right…

Original Photo 1: Hill

Not sure where that came from.

Original Photo 2: Tanjung Pagar Railway Station

The AYE viaduct pillar is visible (sufficient nail in the coffin since the AYE only came about in 1988), supposedly supporting the weight of the hill. The photo is also flipped digitally with the station sign flipped back so that the letters SIN with a little part of G still reads correctly. However, the blue coloured sign with the words SINGAPURA on it is actually an ADDITIONAL PLATE in front of the original sign, not yet installed in 1962. The original SINGAPURA station sign at the end of the platform is in the original black and white format similar to every other station in Malaysia at that time. It also potentially consists of the languages of Malay/English (Singapura), Jawi, Tamil and Mandarin, but I am unable to verify it physically as that would constitute as vandalism.

Original Photo 3: Supposed Class 56 Locomotive

The photo is an insult to the great Class 56 (also known as Class O) Locomotive which is a 4-6-2 locomotive operating with a tender, and most certainly not that light steam locomotive as shown in the photo. A total of only 66 Class 56 locomotives in 4 batches were procured, and not the supposed 8 as edited happily in the photo (568.14) (And even being the 14th locomotive in the eighth batch? KTM isn’t operating trains with 2-minute frequencies across Peninsular Malaysia.). To add to the joke, the author/editor uses the modern blue and yellow Keris logo of KTM on the locomotive’s side. This modern logo has only been used since 1992. If the author/editor would like the edit to be more believable, he or she should at least use the old orange Keris logo which coincidentally started being in use since 1962. But of course, to be really accurate, the Class 56 locomotives either only ever bore the legendary FMSR crest on her tender, or none at all.

Original Photo 4: KTM Staff in Blue Uniform

Again, another joke. The blue uniform was only launched with, if not after, the corporate change to the modern blue and yellow Keris logo in 1992. In 1962, the classic beige uniforms were used. The photo was supposedly taken “in Tanjong Pagar Station”, however, the staff is holding a token pouch, which is only issued or returned at the Tanjung Pagar Signal Cabin. If it’s still present with the staff when the train reaches the station, somebody gonna get a hurt real bad…

Original Photo 5: Track with Curve

Didn’t bother much with CSI-ing on this photo, but it makes the platform shelter of the opposite platform end abruptly like a bus stop, and effectively does not provide for a shelter on the side of the supposed platform where the supposed photoshopped staff are standing on.

With so much discrepancies with the hastily-edited photo, would I be able to trust that there is a “KTM day” in existence? Whenever I make personal train trips on 30 June or 1 July, the staff would say things on the lines of missing the times on the Singapore railway rather than being appreciated for their hard work. 30 June 2011 is more significant to all of us as the sad last day of the Singapore railway rather than the total joyous opposite of a supposed “KTM day”.


The Singapore Memory Project, a Singapore Government initiative and project managed by the National Library Board, is I would say similar to a collection of oral history passed down by word of mouth for future generations to understand what Singapore used to be through individual experiences. However, with such approvals for inaccurate snippets involving information that can be easily Googled by moderators (not necessarily needing to have a great interest in trains, though it helps when typing down facts for this article and finding references later – don’t do that in school, kids), it is a wonder if the Singapore Memory Project does plan to keep an accurate account of oral history or not.

I do not know about the process of getting memories like this approved on the Singapore Memory Project‘s portal, but if considering that such inaccurate information can easily be approved and be made publicly, it is a wonder why when a Singapore Memory Project representative called me up for an interview in 2013, my oral account of my experience (not historical facts) on the railway in Singapore during the interview still has not been uploaded till today. (It’s not the interviewer’s fault – there were forms for me to sign so I’m pretty sure all those were submitted.)

The Singapore Memory Project and the National Library Board should buck up on approving such “memories”, ensuring that known historical facts (I don’t mean personal experiences) are accurate, if not, a portal for submitting stories like this is no different than just another citizen journalism website.

Or, if you really want to know what I feel about the above photo, scroll back up and Right Click > Save image as… to see the file name.

Additional external references (so that you know I’m not creating facts from my own self) from mapetm’s and Malcolm Wilton-Jones’s excellent websites, both of whom are members of the Malayan Railway Fan Club (PPM-011-10-0302014).

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2 thoughts on “Inaccurate Historical KTM Facts on Singapore Memory Project (irememberSG)

  1. John Bakil Rian says:

    One of the photos shown here is combination of various sources and edited to produce a single fake situational picture. The photo that show rolling hills is actually the picture somewhere in England.

    Like

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