In 1959, the first edition of this multi-sport event was organised in Bangkok to promote co-operation and understanding among countries in the Southeast Asian region. The biennial event held at different cities and the seventh edition marked the first time Singapore played host.
Determined to make a good first impression, the young nation-state embarked on the construction of a National Stadium. The newly-built public housing town of Toa Payoh was also designated a Games Village for the athletes and officials to stay in, offering a thoroughly modern introduction to Singapore.
Varous publicity materials and merchandise were produced in support of the event. They included pictograms illustrating all 16 events, commemorative matchboxes, and a set of gold-and-silver stamps. Their modern designs bore shades of the now iconic 1972 Olympics design identity by Otl Aicher for Munich.