What time is it?

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.

1 Comment so far

  1. LAS (unregistered) on August 14th, 2006 @ 10:39 pm

    Hi, this message has nothing to do with this blog post. But I just wanted to let you know you are so talented and thank you for sharing your blog art work.

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