#OnThisDay (9 May 1966) Registration of IC
#OnThisDay (9 May) in 1966, Singaporeans began registering for pink and blue identity cards, after the National Registration Act of 1965 took effect a few days before.
The new cards replaced the identification papers issued under British colonial rule. And between May and December 1966, we issued about a million new cards — with the first (number S0000001) going to our first President, the late Mr Yusof Ishak.
National registration gave each Singaporean a unique identification number for citizenship services, and priority in receiving employment and receiving social benefits. As then-Minister for Labour Jek Yeun Thong said at the same, “Singapore is now fighting for its survival and endeavouring to build a more prosperous and just society, it is only logical that the fruits of our endeavours should benefit only those who are rightfully entitled to them, namely our citizens.”
The cards were also much better than their predecessors — they were laminated, waterproof, and designed to deter forgeries, which were rampant at the time. They were replaced by the current IC in 1991.
These cards — like our red passports that “open doors to the rest of the world,” as Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said at the Committee of Supply Debate in 2021 — are some of the things that officially make us Singaporean. But they’re not all that make us who we are.