Celebrate Singapore’s national day by understanding its history

I refer to the 13 May 2014 Straits letter “Celebrate Singapore’s birthday by learning its history” by Ms Lim Lih Mei.

Ms Lim feels that a truly meaningful way of celebrating Singapore’s birthday is to learn Singapore’s history through events or activities that explain the historical significance of places like Bukit Chandu, Old Ford Factory, Fort Canning Park, Kent Ridge Park and Labrador Park so that Singaporeans understand our achievements did not come easy or happened overnight and that citizens shoulder a heavy responsibility to make our country an even better place.

If Ms Lim truly learns Singapore history, she will know that 8 Aug is not Singapore’s birthday but her Independence Day instead. The day Singapore was given independence was not the day Singapore was born.

Understanding the significance of Bukit Chandu and Kent Ridge means showing gratitude to people like Lt Adnan and Lim Bo Seng who rose up to the occasion in our hour of need to fight for our country. They are the perfect role models to inspire the younger generation to defend Singapore, not those who chose self-preservation over sacrifice. The former represented courage, honour, sacrifice, dependability and rootedness for the country. The latter represented cowardice, dishonor, selfishness, dubiousness and rootlessness that swayed according to the winds of change. The day-night difference between the two is captured by the following:

• In the war years, against the great suffering of the Chinese-educated who bravely put themselves behind the wheel of resistance, the Westernized elite was distinguished by ingratiating themselves to the Japanese, so Lee remembers:
Many of us will remember the unhappy spectacle of English-speaking, Western-educated colleagues suddenly changing in their manners of speech, dress and behaviour, making blatant attempts at being good imitation Japs. Indeed some were sent to Japan so as to be better educated, to enlighten their ignorant countrymen in Malaya and doubtless also to become the privileged class, second only to the genuine Japanese themselves.
[Singapore: The State and the Culture of Excess, Souchou Yao, page 34-35]

In France, those who fought on despite the capitulation of the French government were hailed as heroes after the war while those who fraternized with the enemy were publicly humiliated as traitors. It would be truly meaningful if Singaporean society can finally learn to distinguish the two and not mistake one for the other.


One Response to “Celebrate Singapore’s national day by understanding its history”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Many traitors in Singapore were lynched. Pity some got away and rose to high positions, now eager to revise history.

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