Straits Times: Celebrating 'Made in Singapore' products

Nostalgic toys, electronic gadgets among items featured in exhibition

A set of Blue Box Knights made in the 1960s in Singapore will be displayed at the exhibition that opens at the National Library in Victoria Street today.

BY MELODY ZACCHEUS

FEARFUL of contracting typhoid which had taken the life of his fifth son, dentist Ng Teng Guan left Xiamen in Fujian province to live on a hill in the hot summer months in the early 1900s.

He even got his wife to produce their own soya sauce so that they would not have to rely on the sauce made in the city where the contagious disease was raging.

His grandson George Huang said: "The homemade sauce became popular among his friends... and they eventually started ordering it from him."

Before long, Mr Ng started a manufacturing business which came to Singapore in 1949.

Amoy Canning has grown since then and has offices in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.

It produces more than 100 products which are sold globally.

Its popular canned curry chicken and dark soya bean sauce will feature in an exhibition, Made In Singapore Products, that opens at the National Library in Victoria Street today.

The exhibition will travel to libraries in Jurong, Bedok, Bishan, Queenstown and Tampines before the official launch in July next year at the National Museum of Singapore.

Visitors of the previews will also get to see home-grown pro- ducts and artefacts such as toys, medicated oil and electronic gadgets.

The full exhibition by the National Heritage Board (NHB), slated to run as part of the nation's golden jubilee celebrations, will feature 50 products from 50 companies.

Mr Huang, 64, a third-generation owner of Amoy Canning who runs the family business with his 27-year-old son, said he feels "proud and honoured" to be part of the exhibition.

Another company with products on show is Bibi&Baba.

It started as a small shop selling locally made children's clothes and party apparel at 116, Orchard Road in 1947.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the firm started by Ms Nina Hwang manufactured garments for major retailers including Macy's, Gap and Marks & Spencer.

Today, the company continues to grow in the hands of Ms Hwang's 70-year-old daughter, its executive director Helen Lyou. It supplies uniforms to 100,000 students a year and to medical personnel at most health institutions.

Bibi&Baba was also behind a summer dress worn by Princess Diana on her 1983 Australian tour.

Madam Lyou said: "It's very exciting to be featured in the exhibition because the small company my mother started has a great story to tell, having grown in tandem with Singapore."

Mr Alvin Tan, group director of policy at the NHB, said a team pored over old advertisements, newspaper articles and company annual reports to find locally made products that tell the growth story of Singapore's manufacturing industry.

He said: "We wanted to showcase some of Singapore's pioneering products so that Singaporeans would be proud of our manufacturing achievements during the month of our nation's birthday."

melodyz@sph.com.sg

BACKGROUND STORY
A GROWTH STORY TO TELL

It's very exciting to be featured in the exhibition because the small company my mother started has a great story to tell, having grown in tandem with Singapore.

- Madam Helen Lyou, whose mother Nina Hwang started apparel firm Bibi&Baba in 1947