What time is it?

Cross-posted to Metroblogging Singapore.

In the course of surfing the web today, I came across this website chronicling the timezones that Singapore has followed over the years: Why is Singapore in the "Wrong" Time Zone? That wasn't the question that I was searching for the answer to (I was just trying to confirm that Singapore currently runs on GMT+8 ) but the website title was intriguing enough that I clicked on the link ---

--- And it neatly reminded me that yes, I wasn't hallucinating a memory. When I was a child, Singapore did concertedly move its clocks forward. On December 31, 1981, at 4 pm GMT, Singapore flicked all its clocks and watches half an hour ahead,and leapt ahead to (4pm + 8 hours) = midnight on January 1, 1982.

Another way of looking at it is that Singapore rang in New Year's Day a half hour before it had in the preceding year.

A third way of looking at it is that Singaporeans lost half an hour of their lives, because the duration between 11:30 pm and midnight never "happened", so to speak. So if one were thereafter interrogated by the police, who wanted to know what he or she was doing between the hours of 11:30 pm and midnight, well the right and honest answer would be, "I don't know." Or perhaps, if one dares, "I wasn't there, sir. Really!"

Also: no babies could have been born in Singapore between 11:30 and 11:59 pm on December 31, 1981. So if anyone ever tells you that's exactly when they were born, you know they're lying to you.

Most importantly, this means that all of us born in Singapore before 1982 can relish the fact that we are in fact half an hour younger than we thought we were. Hurrah!

At any rate, the reason all this time-switching took place, according the to website linked above, was that Malaysia decided that it would advance clocks on the peninsula to match East Malaysia's time (GMT+8). If Singapore had remained at GMT+7:30, everyone would have to fiddle with their watches and/or live with the confusion of not being certain what time it was whenever they crossed the Causeway. So Singapore made the leap too --- which just means we fiddle with our watches whenever we pop over to Indonesia instead.


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At 8/13/2006 11:15 pm , Blogger cour marly said...

I remember it very well, and I can still remember the news footage of people gathered at the front of Victoria Hall, adjusting their watches at the appointed time.

That was pretty cool.

At 8/14/2006 12:59 am , Blogger Little Miss Drinkalot said...

Why don't I remember a thing?? Obviously, my zero interest in anything to do with the world was apparent from a young age.

At 8/14/2006 2:17 am , Blogger mis_nomer said...

Whoa.. I don't remember this at all. I'll need to ask my parents.

At 8/14/2006 2:51 am , Blogger Olorin said...

Whoa, I don't think Indonesia has a single time zone. I remember having to switch my watch by an hour when crossing from Bali to Java in a school trip all the way back in 1990.

Also, when travelling to Batam or Bintan, we switch our watches back by one hour, so if we hadn't had that switch in time forward back in the 1980s, we would have to adjust our watches not only when we pop over to Malaysia, but also when we pop over to Indonesia as well.

Funny thing is... you fly so far to the East, and Bali time is the same as Singapore... you crossover to Java in the west, and you have to adjust your watch back by an hour... but when you travel further west back to Singapore, you adjust your watch forward again.

I remember thinking as a kid how weird that was.

At 8/14/2006 3:27 am , Blogger Tym said...

Olorin > Yah, I know that Indonesia has different timezones, depending on which island you're on. I was just trying to be, er, economical with my language? :)

The thing I'm not certain is if any where in Indonesia follows the GMT+7:30 that Singapore was on before the 1982 leap forward. It strikes me that it's extremely inconvenient to be in any zone that's +30 minutes.

Actually, there was something bugging me about Indonesian timezones vis-a-vis Singapore's, and you've put your finger on it. From Singapore, we fly eastwards and set our watches back in time, but if we keep going further east, we end up in the same timezone (and how fluid a shape that's starting to connote, instead of the neat lines you'll find on most timezone maps) where we started. Bizarre! Much easier to wait for the all-soothing voice of the head flight attendant to tell me what time it is, wherever in Asia I've landed, than to try and wrap one's head around these timezone issues.

At 8/14/2006 7:48 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two things:

One - whoa, an interesting nugget of information I never knew about!

Two - and that thing about feigning ignorance during interrogation because of the 30 minutes which never existed? It doesn't work, babe. It doesn't work.


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