Editorial: Inauguration

The inaugural issue is largely centered on pre-1965 Singapore. This did not happen by design, but it is no accident either that this period of ‘open politics’ before the consolidation of PAP rule is the starting point of inquiry, when home scholars attempt to explore if there were alternative logics to that of the Singapore Story which it has silenced.

In her analysis of Fang Chuan Pi’s memoir, Sai Siew Min provides a reading that resists the obverse of the communist/non communist binary to break out of the insidiously limiting question of whether a person was ‘really’ a communist.

Lim Cheng Tju sketches a chronology, drawn from Colonial Office records, of the Fajar trial (1954), where members of the publications committee of the organ of the University Socialist Club were charged by the colonial government for sedition. Giving names and dates, hence identities and contexts, the essay postulates that the episode should be inspirational to all graduates of the university.

Kwee Hui Kian’s introduction to Huang Kaide and his ‘literary musings’ on history and memory expresses the yearnings for a Singapore history that is common property, the stuff of memory.

Daniel Goh peers into Chua Mia Tee’s National Language Class (1959) and sees the resolve then to overcome race-class-language differences, which by 2006, have been glossed over as consumption and nostalgia even as they ossify.

Members of s/pores jumped at the chance to publish an obituary that Tan Jing Quee had written for Linda Chen Mong Hock in December 2002, accompanied by a poem that the late Malaysian poet Usman Awang had written for his Chinese friends. We have left the poem by Usman Awang in Malay, and look forward to readers contributing a translation. However, we have translated Said Zahari’s references to Linda Chen which appeared in his Dreaming a Thousand Restless Dreams (Dalam Ribuan Mimpi Gelisah), published in 2006. While this issue was being finalized, another former English-educated left wing former political detainee passed away. Ho Toon Chin, better known as Ho Piao, died in England on 6 February 2007 as reported in the Straits Times. It has been Tan Jing Quee’s lot to remember his friends and former fellow political activists/detainees so that Singaporeans may at least know of them.

Hong Lysa examines the seeming paradox of young Singaporeans freely calling Singapore history taught in school ‘propaganda’, while nostalgically blaming the authorities of not teaching them about the past. At the same time, credible interrogation of “The Singapore Story” has developed, and has even been incorporated into textbooks. The effort to produce the stories of the range of actors in Singapore’s history continues.

Francis Lim Khek Gee’s event announcement of the project ‘Education at Large: Art exhibition on student activities and activism in Singapore, 1945-1965’ alerts us to the work to the civil society group Tangent, in particular their exploring of the history of eight Singapore schools. The highly contextualized and specific treatment given to the study of student activism holds great promise for a landmark exhibition.

Table of Contents

“A Subaltern Perspective on History” (人下人的历史观): Reading Fang Zhuang Bi’s (方壮壁) Memoir Sai Siew Min

A Personal Journey In Search Of Fajar Lim Cheng Tju

Huang Kaide’s ‘Our Memories’ Kwee Hui Kian

Interpreting National Language Class Daniel PS Goh

The continuing saga of Singapore’s Story Hong Lysa

In Memory of Linda Chen (1928-2002) Tan Jing Quee

Ho Piao: A personal recollection and appreciation Tan Jing Quee

Education at Large: An Exhibition on Student Activities and Activism In Singapore, 1945-1965 Francis Lim Khek Gee