Three years ago, my friend went to Singapore to spend her summer vacation. She told me that sunsets in Singapore were a bit late, usually at 7:30 PM. Also, it was still dark even at 6:30 in the morning. Being a geography geek, she was perplexed since Singapore is not located beyond the 25th degree of latitude; it is only a hundred miles or a degree north of Earth’s equator, thus the number of hours of day and night in Singapore is equally distributed.
(Beautiful Singapore. Photo credit: zoompict of Flickr)
Then, she noticed its geographical location and time zone. It follows the same time zone with Philippines, China and Taiwan (+8.00 GMT) but it is located within the time zone of Thailand (+7.00 GMT).
I was a bit puzzled with Singapore’s time zone too. Little by little I began to unearth the mysteries behind Singapore’s time zone.
Mok Ly Yng wrote an article about the history of Singapore’s time zone. Before January 1, 1901 Astronomical Observatories in Malaya would base their local mean time to its geographical location. Penang, Malacca and Singapore had their own observatories, ergo the three locations have their own time with minutes of differences.
By January 1, 1901, the local time of Singapore was adopted by Straits Settlements and the Federated Malay States as the Standard Time. This was introduced due to the increasing demands of transportation and communication between these two states. This would ease the scheduling problems brought about by different times of the three locations. Singapore adopted the +7.00 GMT time zone then.
(The conic Merlion. Photo credit: zoompict of Flickr)
The country has undergone several changes on its time zone through their city ordinances. In 1930s, Singapore adopted the Daylight Saving Ordinance which made the country 7 hrs 20 mins ahead of GMT (Greenwhich Mean Time). In 1941, 10 mins was added to its current DST scheme, making it 7 hrs 30 mins ahead of GMT. When the Japanese forces invaded the island nation in 1942, Singapore time was moved ahead by 1 hr 30 min to conform with Tokyo Standard Time, which is 9 hours ahead of GMT but was set to its original time zone in 1955.
In the early 60s, Singapore became independent from Malaysia. Both of these countries follow the +7.30 GMT time zone.
Sometime in 1981, Malaysia declared that West Malaysia would move their clocks ahead by 30 minutes to match the time of East Malaysia, which is 8 hrs ahead of GMT. Singapore would be rather be in an awkward position if it didn't follow Malaysia. Ergo, Singapore followed Malaysia's new time zone.
In 1995, it was proposed by ASEAN leaders that an ASEAN Common Time (ACT) be adopted and it was later suggested that this would only be implemented for all the capital cities of ASEAN. A year later, in 1996, at the first informal meeting of the Heads of Government of ASEAN in Jakarta, the Heads of Government agreed to review the matter during the period of 2000-2003.
This is the tabular summary of Singapore's chronological adoptation of different "Standard Time" in Singapore:
|Period in use||Time offset from GMT||Reference Meridian||Name of Time (unofficial)|
|Until 1905 May 31||+ 6hr 55m 25s||103° 51’ 16” E||Singapore Mean Time|
|1905 Jun 01 - 1932 Dec 31||+ 7hr 00m 00s||105° 00’ 00” E||Standard Zone Time|
|1933 Jan 01 - 1941 Aug 31||+ 7hr 20m 00s||110° 00’ 00” E||Daylight Saving Time|
|1941 Sep 01 - 1942 Feb 15||+ 7hr 30m 00s||112° 30’ 00” E||Daylight Saving Time|
|1942 Feb 16 - 1945 Sep 12||+ 9hr 00m 00s||135° 00’ 00” E||Tokyo Standard Time|
|1945 Sep 13 - 1981 Dec 31||+ 7hr 30m 00s||112° 30’ 00” E||DST/MST/SST a|
|1982 Jan 01 - Present||+ 8hr 00m 00s||120° 00’ 00” E||Singapore Standard Time|
So now, you know.