Singapore today did not continue from 14th century

I refer to excerpts from the 26 Jun 2014 Straits Times report “Between the covers: The Chinese in Singapore”.

It was reported that a book will be published next year detailing the history of Singapore’s Chinese as far back as 500 years before Singapore’s founding in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles. The book will draw evidence from recent archaeological finds showing a Chinese community dating back to the 14th century that is expected to fill the gap left from a previous book covering the period 1891 to 1919.

Dating back 500 years or since the 14th century doesn’t mean the history continued all through the 500 years or continued since the 14th century to this day. Whatever that the book aims to reveal, one thing is certain – there is a historical black hole in Singapore from the time the Portuguese burnt it down in the 1600s to 1819 when Sir Stamford Raffles revived its fortunes. No amount of scholarly writing can fill that black hole of close to 200 years that clearly separates a former civilization that used to exist in Singapore from modern Singapore that has continuously existed since 1819. What cannot be denied is that by the time Raffles arrived in 1819, all that was left of Singapore was a small fishing village, no more bustling city, not even a town. Whatever glory that 14th century Singapore purportedly held had all but vanished for close to 200 years until Raffles’ arrival. The Singapore that we know today did not continue from that 14th century civilization but began afresh with Raffles.

Incidentally, the name Singapore could have originated from the Sanskrit words “Sing-gah” and “Poorah” which together meant a place of calling or landing.

• In 1160, a renowned Malay leader and his followers landed at the Southernmost extremity of the Malayan Peninsula, and were there designated the Leeward people (Orang dibawah angin), from the fact of their following the Trades, (as they emigrated from Menang Kabao,) their Chief City in Sumatra, At this resting place they built a City and called it Sing-gah-poorah; Sing-gah, to call at, to land at, – Poorah, is simply a mark of composition, having no Distinct meaning in itself, hence a place of call, or landing. It has been suggested by some, that it’s origin is Sanskrit; “Singa,” thus, has the meaning, a Lion; but in this case the word is pronounced with the “g” soft, as in the word “Singer.” It is one of the many Sanskrit words which has been introduced in to the Malayan tongue, – while Poorah is said to be a Javanese word meaning, a Kingly place, a City, and therefore the “Lion City.”
[The Straits Times, 8 May 1875, Page 6, ORIGIN AND MEANING OF THE NAME “SINGAPORE.”, T. H Crane, Western Isle of Wight, 26 Dec 1874]


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