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The Scripting of A National History

Singapore and Its Pasts

Lysa Hong ,Jianli Huang

Publication Year: 2008

The Scripting of a National History: Singapore and Its Pasts is highly relevant not only to academics but also for the Singapore general reader interested to see what are meant to be received wisdoms for the citizenry interrogated in a well-reasoned and engaging exercise, as well as for an international readership to whom Singapore has become a fascinating enigma. They may well be intrigued by the anxieties of being Singaporean.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vii

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pp. ix-xi

The day Singapore, a small island at the tip of peninsula Malaya, became an independent state can be marked precisely, 9 August 1965. It was an ignoble birth. The local understanding is that ‘we, Singaporeans' were kicked out, after three years of difficult membership in the federation of Malaysia. ...

List of Photographs

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pp. xiii-xiv


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pp. xv

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pp. xvii-xx

This book was not conceived as unitary whole from the start. It comprises of articles written independently by colleagues, who later found cause to co-author three additional articles, as well as a convergence of research agendas. It is hence difficult to express our acknowledgments jointly. ...

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Introduction: Beginning of History

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pp. 1-10

As Singapore enters what it has come to consider its fourth decade of existence as a nation, it sees itself as an economic, political and social experiment that has worked, and to a degree is recognised as such, especially in Asia. The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, launched in 2004, is a manifestation of this ...

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The essays in this section appear in chronological order, beginning with the most recently written. 'The New Testament' draws out the lineaments of Singapore's history as narrated by the state, from the 1970s emphasis on its nesting in colonial history with Raffles as the incubator, to the 1980s theme of ...

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1. New Testament: Singapore and Its Tensed Pasts

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pp. 13-30

History, as the most basic definition ofthe discipline would have it, is the study of the past. Hence the injunction, if one is needed, from the history teacher to beginner students would be that they should write in the past tense as the events under consideration would have already taken place. However, this intuitive ...

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2. Apotheosis: The Lee Kuan Yew Story as Singapore's History

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pp. 31-44

‘[O]ur young must know the Singapore Story - how Singapore succeeded against all odds to become a nation', declared the country's deputy prime minister Lee Hsien Loong in 1997, launching a national education programme in schools and placing an unprecedented priority on disseminating history lessons ...

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3.Sermon: Rajaratnam and Devan Nair as High Priests

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pp. 45-64

It is perhaps not coincidental that, of Lee Kuan Yew's lieutenants, it is S. Rajaratnam, a Jaffna Tamil, and C. V. Devan Nair, a Malayalee, who served in the forefront through their acerbic and forceful rhetorical and literary prowess. They were responsible for framing the ideas of the Singapore leadership in the English language ...

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4. Liturgy: Telling Singapore's Past through Oral History

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pp. 65-74

The generation and collection of interviews as historical sources by archival institutions in Southeast Asia does not date back very far. A colloquium on oral history was organised in Penang in 1978, which sought to bring together archivists and oral history practitioners in the region to share experiences through ...

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pp. 75-78

This section examines the dynamics of the Chinese community in terms of leadership, education and mass politics, highlighting how the embedded dilemma of ethnic identity, language and culture has been featured in the meta-narrative and its alternatives. The ethnic Chinese demanded special attention ...

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5. Political Vanguard: PAP Leaders of the Chinese-Speaking Community

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pp. 79-108

The postwar history of Singapore is painted predominantly in hues of communism, communalism and chauvinism. The authoritative accounts written by Dennis Bloodworth and John Drysdale show essentially the same landscape. This is the quintessential portrait of a straightforward fight between the ‘English-educated' , ...

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6. Language Fault Lines: The Wang Gungwu Report on Nanyang University

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pp. 109-136

The language divide within the Chinese community on the is1and city-state of Singapore had a profound impact on its history, politics as well as social fabric. Its origins can be traced back to the founding of modem Singapore by the British in 1819 when its free port status quickly attracted an influx of Straits Chinese ...

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7. Student Political Activism: Articulation, Contestation and Omission

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pp. 137-162

The return of British colonial authorities at the end of the Second World War and the beginning of the decolonisation process had provided impetus as well as a greater degree of political space for student politics in Singapore.1 Although there were early stirrings of postwar anti-colonial sentiment in Singapore among ...

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Singapore has no obvious national heroes, individuals who can unproblematically embody the virtues that the populace can look to as signifying the achievements and aspirations of the collectivity. The Founder is a usual choice, but elevating Stamford Raffles, a colonial official to such a status would ...

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8. Toying with Pandora's Box: The Scripting of Singapore's National Heroes

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pp. 165-180

The ninth of September 1999 is a landmark in the history of currency in Singapore. On that day, a new series of notes was issued, featuring the portrait of Yusof Ishak, the first president of the independent republic of Singapore,1 the first time that a historical personage has graced either its dollar bills or postage stamps.2 ...

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9. Imagining a Big Singapore: Positioning the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall

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pp. 181-204

Situated in a corner off the modern Pan-Island Expressway and right above the underground Mass Rapid Transit railline, the Sun Yat Sen Villa in Singapore has a history of more than one hundred years in a nation-state that traces its beginnings to its 1819 founding and subsequent settlement as a British colony. ...

Image plates

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10. Conscripting Chinese Diasporic Culture into National Identity: Taming of the Tiger Balm Gardens

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pp. 205-230

Aw Boon Haw (1882-1954), the owner of the Tiger Balm Gardens, was a legendary t

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Conclusion: No End to History

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pp. 231-234

In 2006, some months after the general elections in which the ‘post-65' generation of Singaporeans who were bom after the country became independent in 1965 was identified by the PAP, in govemment for forty-five years, as the social group that they had to win over, a small group of students were invited to ...


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pp. 235-282

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 283-292


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pp. 293-300

E-ISBN-13: 9789888052943
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622098831

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2008