Fullerton building: From GPO to national landmark

Fullerton building: From GPO to national landmark
The former Fullerton Building, now The Fullerton Hotel, has been gazetted as Singapore's 71st national monument. Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY
Published: 5:33 PM, December 7, 2015
Updated: 11:58 PM, December 7, 2015
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SINGAPORE — Overlooking the mouth of the Singapore River and the heart of the Central Business District, the Fullerton Hotel’s colossal two-storey Doric colonnade bore witness, for almost nine decades, to the growth of the country through the colonial and pre-independence era till today. 

Before its present day incarnation as a five-star hotel, the building was home to the former General Post Office, and over different periods of time, housed government offices and departments where some of the Republic’s pioneer leaders began their careers, as well as a hospital providing makeshift operation rooms for wounded British soldiers during World War II. 

Today (Dec 7), the iconic eight-storey building — which was declared open on June 27, 1928 — was given its own place in history when it was gazetted as Singapore’s 71st National Monument.

The gazetting ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as well as Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who had worked at the building in his days with the Economic Planning Unit in the 1960s. 

PM Lee himself had fond memories of the building. During General Elections, political parties would hold lunchtime rallies at Fullerton Square and his father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who was Singapore’s founding Prime Minister, delivered “many stirring and memorable speeches” there, as his mother listened from the balcony of the building, he said. 

“When I first entered politics in 1984, I too spoke at the Fullerton Square rally, which back then was still at Fullerton Square,” PM Lee said. “Today we still call it the ‘Fullerton Rally’, but it’s actually at the UOB Plaza promenade at Boat Quay.”

Tracing the history of the building, which started out as the General Post Office, PM Lee noted that it was an important point of reference for public roads in Singapore. 

Back then, the British used the milestone system for measuring road distances and the post office was “Mile Zero”. During the Japanese Occupation, the building became the headquarters of the Japanese Military Administration. Throughout the years, the building was home to many government offices. 

“The transformation of this building reminds us of how far Singapore has come together as a nation. In its lifetime, we have developed from Third World to First,” PM Lee said. 

He added: “When the Governor Sir Hugh Clifford opened this building in 1928, he said that ‘the building is, and will be for many years, one of the principal landmarks of Singapore’. 

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