A week ago, The Straits Times carried an article titled In Search of the Other S’pore Story. The piece highlighted the growing number of scholarly works and memoirs published on the leftist movement in Singapore during the 1950s-60s, and the increased interest in alternative history.
The introduction of National Education to schools in 1997 is a milestone in the shaping and telling of the Singapore Story, according to the writer. Targeted at the post-65 generation who showed little awareness on Singapore’s postcolonial history, National Education was developed to nurture national cohesion by fostering a sense of identity, and by equipping the young Singaporeans with the knowledge of Singapore’s history and present challenges.
The launch of the Singapore Story exhibition in 1998, and the publication of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s memoir of the same name in 1999, further established the Singapore Story narrative.
In response to official history, alternative histories burgeoned. The accounts of the movers and shakers of the political struggle in the 1950s-60s, in particular, have attracted considerable attention.
Less discernible and perhaps fortuitous in its timing, is the rise of the personal memory – seen in the proliferation of heritage and nostalgia websites. With the rise of social media, tools such as blogs, enabled quick and easy web publishing. The act of remembering, once the preserve of oral archives and history books, has gone mass. People can now record, share and relive memories of places, people, and events of past, with many at the click of a mouse.
The collective memories of individuals, especially baby boomers who had lived and witnessed these historical events, present a different facet of the Singapore Story. They also take the telling of Singapore’s history beyond the confines of the political to the social and the popular.
Many government, community and individual memory initiatives rely on such citizens’ participation in memory making and collective recalling.
These include the National Heritage Board’s MyStory, the National Library’s iremember.sg, the National Museum’s Families n Friends: A Singapore Album, Eye e City project, Joo Chiat Community website, Singapore 60s Andy’s Pop Music Influence, Second Shot, and Good Morning Yesterday - whose blog entries appear on the National Heritage Board’s Yesterday.sg.
Why this surge of interest in memory? Perhaps to borrow French historian Pierre Nora’s words, the power of the personal memory lies in its ability to present itself as “more “truthful” than history, the truth of personal experience and individual memory.” It provides an emotional anchor for us to relate and connect with history in more compelling and identifiable way.
HAPPY VALENTINE TO ALL 60s MUSIC LOVERS! FEBRUARY, ROSES, CHOCOLATES, CANDY, SWEEETHEART, ROMANCE, KISSES, HUGS, CANDLELIGHT DINNER, DATE, CUPID, ARROW, HEARTS, POEMS, PROPOSAL, LOVE LETTERS, LOVE SONGS, ETC, ETC...