You are at:
Home > Hot Entry
Hot Entry
No Comments
Singapore Heritage Society Press Release: Singapore Botanic Gardens as UNESCO World Heritage Site

Singapore Heritage Society Press Release: Singapore Botanic Gardens as UNESCO World Heritage Site, 2 April 2013

The Singapore Heritage Society welcomes and supports the submission of tentative listing of properties comprising the Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) to UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Indeed, the Society had mooted the listing of SBG on the World Heritage Site in 2009.

The Society is also pleased to note that Singapore has finally become the 190th State Party to the 1972 World Heritage Convention on 19 June 2012. The Society learned about the ratification through the UNESCO News Release on 19 September 2012.

Moving forward, the Society hopes that there will be greater transparency with regards to the government’s plans and actions. It urges the relevant agencies to embark on consultation processes over the identification, nomination and protection of World Heritage properties with a wide variety of stakeholders including the local community and non-governmental organisations because they are required under Article 13 of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention and the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention under Article 12, 64, and 123 (see Appendix).

SBG is a repository of many histories, including standing as a testament to the colonial empire’s power and reach, the crucial risk-taking of local entrepreneurs who embarked on the rubber industry, not to mention the contribution of the many workers to the economic development of Malaya.

It is a repository that Singaporeans must be encouraged to draw from in order to feel connected to this site, share collective memories and to strengthen our national identity. SBG’s successful listing as World Heritage Site will mean little if citizens are not engaged. The Society therefore encourages efforts to engage and educate the public.

Finally, while the Society welcomes the tentative listing of SBG, it recognises that SBG is gazetted as a National Park under the Parks and Trees Act, and is thus already safe from destruction or encroachment. It urges the government to remain open to the possibility of listing other sites in Singapore that are equally deserving of recognition.

 

Singapore Heritage Society’s Spokespersons:

  1. Mr Tan Wee Cheng, Honorary Treasurer (Email: weecheng@weecheng.com)
  2. Dr Yeo Kang Shua, Honorary Secretary (Email: kangshua@gmail.com)

Appendix

 

Among UNESCO’s World Heritage mission objectives are the following: (http://whc.unesco.org/en/about/)

- encourage countries to sign the World Heritage Convention and to ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage;

support States Parties’ public awareness-building activities for World Heritage conservation;

encourage participation of the local population in the preservation of their cultural and natural heritage.

 

World Heritage Convention:

http://whc.unesco.org/en/conventiontext/

 

Article 13:

The Committee shall co-operate with international and national governmental and non-governmental organizations having objectives similar to those of this Convention. For the implementation of its programmes and projects, the Committee may call on such organizations, particularly the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (the Rome Centre), the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), as well as on public and private bodies and individuals.

 

Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention:

http://whc.unesco.org/en/guidelines/

 

Article 12:

States Parties to the Convention are encouraged to ensure the participation of a wide variety of stakeholders, including site managers, local and regional governments, local communities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other interested parties and partners in the identification, nomination and protection of World Heritage properties.

 

Article 64:

States Parties are encouraged to prepare their Tentative Lists with the participation of a wide variety of stakeholders, including site managers, local and regional governments, local communities, NGOs and other interested parties and partners.

 

Article 123:

Participation of local people in the nomination process is essential to enable them to have a shared responsibility with the State Party in the maintenance of the property. States Parties are encouraged to prepare nominations with the participation of a wide variety of stakeholders, including site managers, local and regional governments, local communities, NGOs and other interested parties.

No Comments
Commentary: Bukit Timah forests, SIT flats worthy of World Heritage status too

by Terence Chong, Yeo Kang Shua and Tan Wee Cheng (First published in Today, 6 April 2013)

The Singapore Heritage Society welcomes and supports the Government’s intention to nominate the Singapore Botanic Gardens for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Indeed, the Society had mooted this back in 2009.

It is also pleased that the Government finally ratified the 1972 World Heritage Convention in June last year.

The 154 year-old Botanic Gardens is a worthy site. It was established in 1859 by the Agri-Horticultural Society on gambier plantation land formerly owned by Whampoa Hoo Ah Kay. Besides collection and experimentation of trees and plant species, additional land was committed for an ‘economic garden’ in 1879 to aid the establishment of plantation lands and plots in the region.

As stated in the justification provided to UNESCO, it stands as a testimony to the history of the economic, social and scientific development in Malaya. The Botanic Gardens saw pioneering work on rubber cultivation techniques carried out in the late 19th century which helped pave the way for its mass manufacturing in the early 20th century.
The Botanic Gardens also had an important hand in the distribution of rubber seeds to plantation owners in Malaya, persuading them switch to rubber from other crops. This move ensured Malaya’s early economic growth by giving a sizeable foothold in trading markets around the world.

Furthermore, while the Botanic Gardens is an undeniable symbol of the colonial empire’s power and reach, we should never forget the crucial risk-taking of local entrepreneurs who embarked on the rubber industry and the contribution of the numerous workers to the economic development of Malaya. Such is the interwoven nature of history.

THE NOMINATION PROCESS
With heritage education as part of its mandate, the Society would like to take this opportunity to explain the nomination process for UNESCO World Heritage status.
In order to achieve World Heritage status, a government must first prepare an inventory, known as the ‘tentative list’, of the country’s significant cultural and natural sites, or ‘properties’.

In the case of the Botanic Gardens, overseas consultants were hired by the Government in 2010 to conduct a feasibility study of possible sites that could be included in this tentative list. The Government has submitted the Botanic Gardens as the sole item on the tentative list, and is currently preparing a formal application for World Heritage status.
When the application is formally submitted, it will be evaluated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites or International Union for Conservation of Nature which assesses cultural and natural sites, respectively. After which, the evaluation is submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for its decision.

Though the Botanic Gardens meets many of the criteria or ‘Outstanding Universal Value’ to qualify as a World Heritage Site, it should be remembered that it is already gazetted as a ‘National Park’ under the Park and Trees Act. It is thus safe from destruction or encroachment, regardless of World Heritage status. Indeed, government protection is required before a site may be considered for World Heritage status.

VITAL TO CONSULT AND ENGAGE
Moving forward, the Society believes that two things are vital to the nomination process.
The first is consultation with local experts. This consultation process is crucial under the UNESCO World Heritage Convention and its Operational Guidelines.
These rules oblige governments to embark on consultation processes over the identification, nomination and protection of possible sites with a wide variety of stakeholders including the local community, academics and experts, and non-governmental organisations. This ensures that local knowledge and experience are taken into account throughout the application process, and not just as an afterthought.
It also encourages the government to be more communicative when it comes to its decision-making process. This will go a long way in enhancing long term interest in the site as the local community would have contributed to the process and feel that it has a stake in it.

The second is public engagement. What does achieving UNESCO World Heritage status mean for ordinary Singaporeans?

The Society strongly believes that the real value of winning World Heritage status lies not in global recognition or prestige. Rather, it lies in the opportunity to educate and raise awareness both locally and overseas, that contrary to popular belief, Singapore is a place rich with heritage.

More importantly, Singaporeans will be made to think deeply about what is meaningful us, why it is meaningful and, in the process, gain knowledge about a history that shapes our identity. The Society believes that all the accolades in the world will come to naught if citizens are not excited or engaged.

A BUDGET TO EDUCATE THE PUBLIC
To achieve this, the Society would like to make several suggestions.
With respect to the Botanic Gardens, create a budget dedicated to raising public awareness of the historical significance of the Botanic Gardens and the establishment of research grants for scholars, local and overseas, to excavate stories, information and documents in order to enhance our understanding of the Botanic Gardens.
Educate the public about the importance of conservation and the significance of Outstanding Universal Values, by commissioning local studies and public forums on the other prospective sites in Singapore that may be considered for tentative listing.
Indeed there are other sites that might have Outstanding Universal Value, but without legislative protection by the Government, they will be unable to receive the UNESCO stamp of approval.

Some possible sites include Bukit Brown, a beautiful swathe of tranquil greenery full of historically important graves that tell a tale of our ancestors’ journeys and connection to the region.

There are also the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Central Catchment Nature Reserve, with tropical rainforests that are reportedly home to as many species of plants as the entire North America, and where a Belgium scientist discovered 150 new species of flies and where Alfred Wallace collected about 700 species of beetles in just two months about a century ago.

And then there are the Singapore Improvement Trust flats in Tiong Bahru, early examples of public housing development; and perhaps even our ubiquitous Housing and Development Board’s slab block flats that embodied modernist ideas that Le Corbusier tried to demonstrate in his Unitéd’Habitation.
In an era where the international community values sustainable development, the preservation of such sites in what is essentially one of the most densely populated countries in the world, and their successful listing as World Heritage, will be an ultimate tribute to the foresight and creative genius of our leaders and urban planners.

Terence Chong, Yeo Kang Shua and Tan Wee Cheng are Executive Committee members of the Singapore Heritage Society. This commentary was first published in Today, 6 April 2013.

No Comments
Commentary: Pulau Ubin and the unsettled Singapore psyche

by Terence Chong and Yeo Kang Shua (First published in Today, 18 April 2013)

The public unhappiness over fears that Pulau Ubin was to be developed has two abiding messages for us. The first is that pockets of rural spaces are close to sacred for many Singaporeans.

Pulau Ubin is more than an underdeveloped island off the mainland. It is also a crucial space that offers psychological distance from the metropolis, allowing visitors to bathe in nostalgia and imagine themselves as more than mere city-dwellers, if only for a few precious hours.

The second is that the fortunes of Pulau Ubin, like many other spaces in Singapore, are in bureaucratic limbo. The fate of the island is held in suspension, contingent on the country’s housing needs, and this uncertainty has a long-term profound impact on Singaporeans’ sense of belonging and psyche.

The lesson here is not that spaces must be sacrificed for the country’s housing needs but that spaces, regardless of natural or heritage worth, are transient in Singapore and it is better not to get too attached to them.

 

FROM 1958 TO 2002

 

Indeed, the uncertainty of Pulau Ubin’s fate has been reflected in official documents through the decades.

The 1958 Master Plan designated the island as “Mineral Workings” and “Fisheries Reserves”. The 1977 and 1980 Master Plans labelled the island “Rural” and “Unplanned”, respectively. And from the revised 1985 Master Plan to the present 2008 one, Pulau Ubin is seen as an “Open Space, Sports and Recreation, Agriculture, Reserve Site”.

Hints of development grew clearer in the 1991 Concept Plan. It stated that “Pulau Tekong and Pulau Ubin will be safeguarded for leisure and recreation purposes for as long as possible. However, if the population exceeds four million, they will be developed by Year X — linked to the mainland by the MRT and a major road.”

The current 2001 Concept Plan removed mention of development but expressed plans to keep Pulau Ubin, Lim Chu Kang and other existing nature areas in their rustic state for as long as possible. A road link from the mainland to the island is still on the cards. The same position was reiterated in the Parks and Waterbodies Plan and Identity Plan 2002.

This uncertainty also played out in the Chek Jawa saga. In 2001, news of impeding reclamation works on the eastern shores of Pulau Ubin provoked outcry from nature enthusiasts. At stake was the rich biodiversity of marine life. On Jan 14, 2002, the Ministry of National Development (MND) announced the decision to put off reclamation work for as long as the island was not required for development.

Interestingly, the 2001 reclamation announcement coincided with the 2001 Concept Plan which, as mentioned above, had already announced the state’s decision to keep the island in its rustic state for as long as possible. Today Chek Jawa remains just as vulnerable to development as there is no legal protection for the site, unlike the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

 

HANKERING FOR PERMANENCE

 

Nothing is as unsettling as an open-ended existence.

In the minds of many, our reluctance to save such spaces goes against the grain of the official narrative. If we are, as we are often reminded, a country lacking in natural resources, why then are we so hesitant when it comes to protecting whatever little we have?

This dissonance between rhetoric and practice may not have been noticed during our developing years when economic well-being was the national priority. However, with a more mature and better-informed population, it will become louder and, given the current concerns of overcrowding, political.

Heritage is now part of the political conversation and new ways to enrich this conversation have to be explored.

Would the gesture of gazetting a part of the island — or even a small portion of Bukit Brown for that matter, say, the hill on which rests the Ong Sam Leong grave, the biggest in the cemetery — derail the nation’s housing plans? Or would it send the signal that heritage and national identity are worth sacrificing for?

Such a gesture would not only bring state-civil society relations to a new level but, more importantly, offer a much needed sense of permanence and durability to our national identity.

 

KEEP THE BRIDGES OPEN

 

The truth is nation-building is an inherently political project. One cannot expect citizens to sink roots into the land or be called to defend it without expecting them to be angry, even confrontational, when spaces like Pulau Ubin and Bukit Brown are vulnerable.

It is thus important for civil servants and civil society activists alike to understand that the bridges of communication must always be kept open in order for dialogue to take place. Without this dialogue, both parties will become more entrenched in their positions and less willing to compromise.

On one hand, civil servants have to break the habit of evoking “national interest” to counter heritage arguments. The state does not have a monopoly over the definition of “nation” and civil society groups, after all, have national interests at heart too. Furthermore, it may be counter-intuitive to some that destruction of heritage and natural land can be for the good of the nation.

On the other, civil society has to persistently reach out to civil servants and government agencies, offering their expertise and ground knowledge in order to produce better-informed policies. Civil society groups must find the stamina to continually seek out agreeable government representatives who are willing to engage them sincerely.

 

NOT THE SAME THING

Looking ahead, the question over Pulau Ubin is about striking a balance between withholding development and preservation — for they are not the same thing.

The Government’s recent announcement that it plans to keep Pulau Ubin in its current state for the foreseeable future is the withholding of development. This alone is not enough.

The Parks and Waterbodies and Rustic Coast Subject Group Report of the Parks and Waterbodies Plan and Identity Plan 2002 succinctly observed that inactivity will not preserve but, instead, lead to the further deterioration of the social and natural environment. This is because preservation is difficult when there is no community.

Hence, a balance must be struck. This takes considerable long-term thinking, planning and control over what happens to Pulau Ubin. With political will and civil society initiative, there is no reason why this cannot be done.

 

Terence Chong and Yeo Kang Shua are executive committee members of the Singapore Heritage Society. This commentary was published in Today, 18 April 2013.

No Comments
Commentary: Holes in the Heritage Conservation Wall

By Yeo Kang Shua and Terence Chong (First published in TODAY, 11 July 2013 http://www.todayonline.com/commentary/holes-heritage-conservation-wall)

Walls are prodigious metaphors. More than just physical barriers, they also signify security, privacy or exclusivity. Majestic examples like the Great Wall of China and Hadrian’s Wall are symbols of defence to keep the enemy out, while others like the Berlin Wall were icons of containment to keep people in. In short, walls have social meaning.

 

A more local wall hit the headlines recently. Two weeks ago, it was reported in the media that part of the boundary walls around CHIJMES was to be torn down as part of a S$45-million facelift for CHIJMES. The reports cited eight changes to be made, including the lowering of the boundary walls along Victoria Street and the puncturing of new entrances in the wall. Part of the cloister wall would reportedly be removed and the space fitted with grilles.

This announcement raises three important issues that bear public discussion.

Can a national monument like CHIJMES retain its social meaning when its architectural integrity is compromised?

In keeping with its original religious function, CHIJMES was designed as a cloister or enclosure to seclude the inside from the outside for a quiet and tranquil space. Crucial to the cloister design is the wall enclosure around the former chapel and school, which serves to separate the sacred from the mundane.

However, the proposed lowering of the boundary wall to 80cm of its original height and the installation of metal grilles will destroy the cloister’s raison d’etre by increasing the “visual porosity” from Victoria Street to the inside. Although physical segregation is retained, the essence of a cloister is lost.

As for the “new entrances” that will be created, whether these erode the concept of the cloister will depend on the size of the openings as well as their design.  Meanwhile, the bigger question remains — do we really need to have porosity along Victoria Street where pedestrian traffic is low?

Unfortunately, the removal of boundary walls from local heritage sites is not new. Other precedents include the National Museum of Singapore, Old Parliament House and the Malay Heritage Centre.

While pedestrian connectivity and site porosity were similarly cited reasons, unlike CHIJMES, the architectural integrity of these three examples was not seriously affected.

 

WHERE TO DRAW THE LINE?

The second issue at stake is the role of the authorities in heritage matters.

CHIJMES is a national heritage site governed by two authorities. The Chapel and Caldwell House are gazetted as national monuments and come under the Preservation of Monuments Board, while the rest of CHIJMES comes under the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) as a conservation site.

It is assumed that CHIJMES’ architecture and setting, a reflection of our nation’s past, warrants its stature as a national monument and conservation site.

URA has done a good job conserving old heritage buildings, with more than 7,000 gazetted buildings around the island coming under its protection. However, more can be done.

For example, has there been any serious attempt to take advantage of CHIJMES’s history in marketing the site as an urban oasis within a busy city centre? Is the need for visual connectivity and porosity from Victoria Street driven purely by commercial interest? If so, where do we draw the line between commercial and heritage interests?

Such questions will become increasingly important as we look for commercially sustainable ways to preserve heritage buildings. In giving these older buildings a new lease of life, it will be crucial to strike a balance between the maximisation of commercial interests and their historical identities.

Exactly where this balance lies will vary from case to case, building to building, thus making it fruitful to have ongoing dialogue and compromise between the relevant stakeholders, such as building owners, heritage experts, government, and business interests.

 

CONSERVE, AND CONSERVE WELL

Thirdly, the CHIJMES boundary wall issue plugs into the wider debate over the upkeep and maintenance of our national monuments.

In April, when the Cenotaph was vandalised with spray paint, we were rightly outraged. It was a straightforward case of gross disrespect.

However, defacement comes in many forms. The media reports note plans to remove the cobblestone floor of CHIJMES and to raise the colonnade roof. These are permanent changes which will, collectively, change the identity and character of the space. And unlike spray paint, changes to building structures cannot be easily erased.

It is no longer enough not to knock down old buildings. The key architectural characteristics of buildings have to be conserved if we are serious about heritage. This will take commitment and political will.

For a nation constantly in search of its identity, it will be well worth the effort.

Yeo Kang Shua and Terence Chong are Executive Committee members of the Singapore Heritage Society. This commentary was first published in TODAY, 11 July 2013.

1 Comment
Follow us on Facebook for updates!

We are revamping our website so do follow us on Facebook for daily heritage news and up-to-date information about our upcoming events.
For a quick introduction about the Singapore Heritage Society, click here.

 

www.facebook.com/sgheritage

 

Look out for our new site in future!

No Comments
Talk: Grand Prix: The Upper Thomson Road Prequel 1960s–1970s. Talk by Mr Eli Solomon
Basement 1, Central Lending Library @ National Library, 100 Victoria Street
Saturday, 7 Sep 2008, 2.30 – 4.00pm
The Singapore Grand Prix ran from 1961–1973. The first event was called the Orient Year Grand Prix and held on a stretch of Upper Thomson Road that encompassed the Sembawang Hills Circus and a section of Old Upper Thomson Road. The Singapore Grand Prix was by no means a singleseater procession, and included the Saloon & Tourer, and Sports & GT, car support races, along with the highly popular races for motorcycles. Based on his book Snakes & Devils, Mr Eli Solomon traces the turbulent history of the Singapore Grand Prix through his extensive research examining
documents and doing interviews across three continents.
No Comments
Book Launch: A panel discussion- Singapore: A 700-Year History – From Early Emporium to Global City.
Singapore: A 700-Year History – From Early Emporium to Global City
A panel discussion
The Pod, Level 16, National Library, 100 Victoria Street
Saturday, 20 June 2009 | 2.00pm
Hitherto, much of Singapore’s history has been a history of its colonial past, starting from 1819 when the ambitious Stamford Raffles claimed Singapore for the British East India Company. Few contemporary history books trace Singapore’s past before that time. A notable exception is the new book: Singapore: A 700-Year History – From Early Emporium to Global City authored by local historians Tan Tai Yong, Kwa Chong Guan & Derek Heng. Providing a critical examination of this new volume and offering their own perspectives on the writing of Singapore history are three younger academics and teachers: Jason Lim, Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied and Alvin Tan. This forum-styled programme also serves as an engaging and interactive platform between domain experts of the respective subjects with the audience.

Flyer: Singapore: A 700-Year History – From Early Emporium to Global City

No Comments
Movie: Premier of Two Documentaries- The Pirate & The Emperor’s Ship. Ah Kew the Digger

Premier of Two Documentaries-

  • The Pirate & The Emperor’s Ship: The notorious Pirate King Tan Lian Lay (aka Tan TeckHui) once terrorised the waters of Perak Malaysia and Bagan Siap-Api, Indonesia. His personal storyand the history of his coastal bases are a mix offact, fiction, legend, myth and religious belief. Fieldresearcher Lee Eng Kew (aka Ah Kew) retraces how anotorious criminal went from being a powerful gangleader to a hunted man, and later a revered deity. This documentary is the second collaboration betweenEng Yow and Eng Kew.
  • Ah Kew the Digger: Follow the efforts of one man – Lee Eng Kew (akaAh Kew) freelance writer and field historian as heexplores temples and grave yards to archive epitaphs,trace lineage and record oral history. For over tenyears, this man in the street has carried out extensiveresearch on the illustrious history of Taiping, a townof many firsts in Perak, Malaysia – focusing on theChinese immigration and contributions to the townand state.

Flyer: Documentaries: The Pirate & The Emperor’s Ship. Ah Kew the Digger

No Comments
Talk: Farish A Noor- Remembering Singhapura & Our Trans-Continental Pasts
Presented by Singapore Heritage Society together with The National Library Board
Possibility Room, Level 5, National Library, 100 Victoria Street
Saturday, 3 Jul 2010 | 3.00pm
Southeast Asia is a curious part of the world where multiple histories and geographies overlap. On the one hand we are at the cutting edge of the immediate present, yet the past - and it is an ancient past, mind you – informs our political, cultural and economic choices till today.
Being a Southeast Asian, or an ASEANist, today means having to re-connect with these overlapping geographies and histories and coming to terms with the cosmopolitanism that is inherent in our nations as well as ourselves. But this
also means having to transcend the narrow and parochial perspectivism of ethno-nationalist discourse that has become our postcolonial inheritance.
One avenue for such change happens to be art, and I would argue that the process of re-connecting with our multiple histories and geographies is as much the task of the artist as it is that of the politician, technocrat and geographer.
No Comments
Talk: Singapore Historic Buildings 101: GEDUNG KUNING a talk by Ms Hidayah Amin

venue: Visitors’ Briefing Room. Level 1, National Library, 100 Victoria Street
date / time: Saturday, 16 May 2009 | 2.00pm

Very little is known of Gedung Kuning or the Yellow Mansion at No. 73 Sultan Gate. Once a stately residence for a Bendahara or Prime Minister, Gedung Kuning was, from 1912 to 1999, home to the family of Haji Yusoff ‘Tali Pinggang’ or Haji Yusoff the Belt Merchant. Haji Yusoff, patriarch of Gedung Kuning was a respected merchant who toiled at his business and was recognised as one of the great pioneers in the Malay community. Gedung Kuning has witnessed the seasons of Haji Yusoff ’s family through four generations, ad its gate welcomed the poor who came to ask for alms. Even to the very last day when the family moved out, Gedung Kuning stood proud befitting its royal colour and stature. Hidayah Amin, one of Haji Yusoff ’s greatgranddaughters revisits her childhood home, taking you beyond the gate guarded by stone eagles, through rooms with big mirrors and marble floors and shares interesting anecdotes growing
up in Gedung Kuning, the legacy of a Malay family in Singapore.

Hidayah Amin is one of Haji Yusoff ’s great-granddaughters and is fondly known to family members as Cik Idah. She was born and grew up in Gedung Kuning. She is the creator of www.gedungkuning.com.
Hidayah was a Fulbright Scholar who once volunteered in a medical mission in tsunami-stricken Aceh and taught film-making to Native American children in a Reservation. She hopes to publish her first book Gedung Kuning, Memories of a Malay childhood this year.

Flyer: GEDUNG KUNING talk by Hidayah Amin

No Comments
Tour: i remember.sg ! Heritage Road Show IV- a heritage hunt to illustrate the milestones of Singapore from 1959 to 2009

Our partners the national library board proudly presents:
i remember.sg ! Heritage Road Show IV- a heritage hunt to illustrate the milestones of Singapore from 1959 to 2009

donate your stories and photographs, click on to the url link, www.iremember.sg

Do you remember the first broadcast of Television Singapura?

Do you remember the opening of People’s Park?

Do you remember the withdrawal of the British military?

Do you remember the SARS epidemic?

These are events that have transpired in the annals of Singapore’s history and have in one way or the other shaped Singapore in its present form, but more importantly, we want to hear from you about these events, and others that have happened in your own life set against the backdrop of these significant events in the last 50 years.
Were you there to witness any of the historic events or major milestones as part of Singapore’s history?
As part of National Library’s upcoming Heritage Road Show event, we are calling for stories or photographs
that can best illustrate the major 50 years milestones of Singapore’s history from 1959 – 2009. Submit your
stories and photographs to us from now till 1 August 2009 and you stand a chance to win CASH prizes of up to
$5,000! Hurry! You could be one of our lucky prize winners!
You are also invited to the launch of this year’s Heritage Road Show event happening on Saturday, 1 August 2009. You can experience our ‘Changing Landscapes of Singapore’ photography exhibition, listen to a ‘live radio’ interview from our donors as well as walk through the visual geography changing landscapes of Singapore from the ‘I remember.sg’ visual wall.

Flyer: i.remember.sg ! Heritage Road Show IV

No Comments
Talk: William Farquhar: Singapore’s ‘Forgotten Founder’ a talk by Mr Jean-Claude Fuchs

venue: Screening Room, The Arts House, Old Parliament Lane
date / time: Saturday, 28 Feb 2009; 2.30–4.00pm

William Farquhar (1774–1839) was born at Newhall, Aberdeenshire, in Scotland. At the age of 17, he joined the
military service of the British East India Company and saw action in the Indian sub-continent in the early 1790s. In 1795, he was involved in the taking of Malacca from the Dutch and by 1803 was Commandant of the settlement. He spent the next 15 years successfully running that colony despite considerable difficulties. With Stamford Raffles,
he established British presence in Singapore and was left in charge of the new settlement after Raffles left for Bencoolen in Sumatra. He fell out with Raffles over the management of the settlement and Raffles arranged to replace him with
John Crawfurd. Farquhar was most unhappy, initially refusing to leave and later sued Raffles for his autocratic behaviour. He finally left in December 1823 and returned to Britain, where he settled in Perth in 1829. In 1837, he was given the rank of Major-General and he died at his home, Early Bank, and was buried in Greyfriars churchyard.
Despite his significant contributions to the early development of Singapore, Farquhar is today, a forgotten figure. Even the little street named in his memory is gone. Jean-Claude Fuchs shares his research on the life of this remarkable man
and his times.

Jean-Claude Fuchs was born in France and is currently a permanent resident in Singapore. Since retiring from his post as an executive with a Swiss multi-national, Jean-Claude has dedicated his time to researching the life and times of Major-General William Farquhar and his family line. The family tree he has constructed now include some 400 descendants of William Farquhar.

Flyer: William Farquhar: Singapore’s ‘Forgotten Founder’

No Comments
Tour: One-Day Johor Heritage Tour- a bus tour

date | time Sunday, 6 June 2010 | 8.30 am

Sultan Abu Bakar Museum.
This museum occupies the Istana Besar (Grand Palace) which was specially commissioned in 1864 by Sultan Abu Bakar. Completed in 1866, the Grand Palace incorporated some of the Sultan’s creative ideas in its architecture. In 1990, Sultan Iskandar decided that members of the public should be given the opportunity to view
the Royal Family’s collection in a proper museum setting. His Majesty consented for the Grand Palace to be converted into a museum. Housed within the museum are vast arrays of treasures, works of art, antiquities and furniture belonging to the Royal Family. The picture gallery features past and present rulers of the Sultanate and their
consorts. There is also a large collection of their personal memorabilia, an impressive array of Orders, Decorations and Medals in the gallery.

Kota Tinggi Museum.
Built in 1997, the museum traces the history of the Johor Sultanate. The Museum traces the history of Johor, starting with the reign of Sultan Allauddin Riayat Shah II until Sultan Mahmud Shah II. The Museum’s site was chosen for its
historical significance as the seat of the old Johor Sultanate. Discover the paintings, historical dioramas, weaponry and much more on display only at the museum.

Johor Lama
Johor Lama was the seat of the old Johor Sultanate. It was established by Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah some time around 1540. Its strategic location by the Johor river allowed it to be used as a secure trading post for some 40 years. However, in 1587, the Portuguese attacked the Fort at Johor Lama and destroyed it. You can still see remnants of the settlement and the fort.

One-Day Johor Heritage Tour Johor Trip 6 Jun 2010

No Comments
Talk: Places of Suffering & Healing – a talk by Ms Kelly Fu, Mr Loh Kah Seng & Dr Liew Kai Khiun

venue:  Basement 1, Central Lending Library @ National Library, 100 Victoria Street
date / time: Saturday, 11 Oct 2008, 2.30 – 4.00pm

The 2003 SARS epidemic reminded Singaporeans of the fragility of life and the selfless devotion to life as healthcare workers braved the risks of deadly infection to stand by the stricken. However significant its impact, such experiences are not new in Singapore’s history. In this respect, three post-65 Singaporean researchers seek to examine the historical contexts of health and illness in the country to explore places of suffering and healing. From the cradle, Ms Kelly Fu will examine the socio-cultural heritage of childbirth in colonial Singapore from village midwives to modern hospitals. Determined that the sufferings of leprosy patients should not be forgotten, Mr Loh Kah Seng intends
to bring us back to the segregated compounds in which they had endured both the pains of the disease as well as
the stigmas of society. With the recent concerns of emerging and re-emerging diseases, Dr Liew Kai Khiun would demonstrate how diseases like the Spanish Influenza in 1918 had affected Singapore and how its populace had responded to the pandemic.

Dr Liew Kai Khiun is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Asia Research Institute of the National University of Singapore. He has undertaken studies on the social and labour, and Medical Histories of both Singapore and Malaysia.

Ms Kelly Fu is currently a PhD Candidate at Goldsmith College. Her research entails the study of the historical dimensions of reproductive health, midwifery and childbirth in Singapore.

Mr Loh Kah Seng is currently a PhD candidate at Murdoch University researching into the social history of slums in Singapore, particularly that of Bukit Ho Swee. He has also written about the social experiences of ordinary people in Singapore during the Great Depression in the late 1920s as well as leprosy patients

Flyer: Places of Suffering & Healing- a talk by Ms Kelly Fu, Mr Loh Kah Seng & Dr Liew Kai Khiun