One day in Nov 2007, probably buried under marking, I went though a typical bout of displacement behaviour by creating a facebook group called “The record-breaking Kandang Kerbau Hospital babies of 1966!“
I remember a plaque on a wall in KKH somewhere, possibly decades ago, that announced this pre-family planning record. Internationally it actually lasted a decade but will probably never again be exceeded in Singapore.
Since I had didn’t have the 1975 Guinness Book of World Records in which the record apparently first appeared and their webpage is surprisingly unhelpful (only a small number of records are listed), I did a search of the internet that afternoon and compiled the “long story” for the discussion board, which I reproduce below.
The facebook group isn’t wildly popular obviously and a peek just now saw 8 members listed. Since the record was set by 39,856 babies, that leaves quite a few more to go! *The Infopedia article cites a different number; I am using the number in Tan & Chern (2003). I have written to NLB’s ASK! to help find out the real number.
From the discussion board of the facebook group, “The record-breaking Kandang Kerbau Hospital babies of 1966!” – The Long Story (all content from the sources listed below):
“In 1966, Kandang Kerbau Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) or KK as it was popularly referred to, saw 39,856 deliveries and entered the Guinness Book of World Records for having the largest number of births in a single maternity facility anywhere in the world!
Then, “more than 85 percent of all births in Singapore took place in KKH, where over 100 babies were delivered daily.”
KK held the record until 1976.
The same year, “the National Family Planning Campaign was launched to curb a projected population boom. The new “Stop At Two” (children) policy’s slogan was “Girl or Boy — Two is enough”.”
“The campaign was so successful that the Government later realized that Singapore would not be able to replace its population in a generation. In 1986, the campaign tack and the slogan became “Have three or more, if you can afford it”.”
Kandang kerbau means “buffalo pen” in Malay.
In colonial times, local people often used landmarks as place names. Due to a buffalo pen located there at that time, the district around the cross-roads formed by Serangoon Road, Selegie Road, Bukit Timah Road and Rochor Road was known as “Kandang Kerbau” district.
The hospital located within this area was variously the (Singapore) General Hospital (1858; leaves for Sepoy Lines in 1882), the Pauper Hospital for Women and Children (c.1905) and eventually the “Kandang Kerbau Hospital” or KK.
The name “KK” become synonymous with the hospital and was retained when the hospital was renamed “KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital” after its move to its present location at Kampong Java Road in 1997.
Sources (all secondary; accesed on 29 Nov 2007):
- “Kandang Kerbau Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH),” by Naidu Ratnal Thulaja, 2004. Singapore Infopedia. National Library Board.
- “About Us” and “Why KK?”
Kandang Kerbau Women’s and Children’s Hospital webpage.
- “The Wonder Years.” Singapore Magazine, Jul – Sep 2007. Singapore International Foundation.
- Tan, K. H. & S. M. Chern, 2003. Progress in Obstetrics from 19th to 21st Centuries: Perspectives from KK Hospital, Singapore – the former world’s largest maternity hospital. The Internet Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 2(2).
I liked the comment my buddy Chien left at the site – “I have always felt that there was something special about 1966”!