Gilt and silver; silk and enamel. Finely crafted and lovingly hand-finished, these colourful and varied treasures are the state's tribute to pioneers who built Singapore in the early days.
These ranged from the composer who wrote the National Anthem and the sportsman who put Singapore on the world map, to the visionaries who helmed the transport, finance and infrastructure sectors. Then there were the philanthropists, community leaders, artists, engineers, educators and soldiers; not to mention the technicians, clerks, secretaries, and many more representing every facet of life.
Each medal reflects his or her contributions to society - for work well done or a life well-lived.
In 1960, the Minister for Culture, the late S. Rajaratnam, designed the first six state awards with the help of a Royal Air Force officer, Wing Commander Eamonn O'Toole.
Between the Order of Temasek, to highlight exceptionally outstanding individuals of the day, and the Long Service Award, for long and loyal service to the public, were awards for service to the state, gallantry, distinguished conduct, and conspicuous merit. These were personally bestowed on recipients by then Yang di-Pertuan Negara Yusof Ishak at the first state honours investiture at the Istana in 1963.
On this 50th year of Singapore's independence, The Straits Times reopens the leatherette cases of these original awards and decorations, some of which have not seen daylight for many years. Many are now obsolete, existing only until Aug 2, 1996, when their designs were changed to reflect a new era.
Click through the gallery to find out more about Singapore's medals of honour.
This article was first published on Aug 13, 2015.
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