EVENT INFORMATION

SESSION 1: THE SINGAPORE STORY

26 JULY 2014, SATURDAY

WATCH EDGAR LIAO'S SESSION HERE

‘Living with Myths’ kicks off with The Singapore Story, the government-sanctioned version of Singaporeans’ shared past.

The Myth that Historical Research can be a Threat to National Security or Social Cohesion

Hong Lysa
Independent Scholar and Historian

 

Singapore’s post-war history has been regarded as ‘sensitive’, as it involves the history of the PAP, and its myth of fighting the communists. However ‘alternative histories’ is regarded as an emerging ‘fad’ among younger Singaporeans, raising the question: ‘Should scholars in Singapore been given free rein in the crafting of alternative histories?’, with the answer supplied: the state ‘has to be the gatekeeper on contemporary historical issues that still present a threat to national security or social

cohesion.’

 

In April 2014, an establishment figure declared that Singapore should be digging up rather than burying history. Is the myth of history as potentially subversive dead?

 

Hong Lysa was formerly with the History Department, National University of Singapore. She is a founding member of the e-journal collective, s/pores: new directions in Singapore studies [www.s-pores.com] and co-author of The Scripting of A National History: Singapore and its Pasts (2008). She also co-edited The May 13 Generation: The Chinese Middle Schools Student Movement and Singapore Politics in the 1950s (2011) and The 1963 Operation Coldstore in Singapore (2013).

Active or Apathetic?

The ‘Absence’ of Student Activism in the University of Malaya in Singapore

Edgar Liao

Historian

 

In recent years, research and public knowledge of the activism of students in the Chinese-medium schools in the 1950s and Nanyang University in the 1960s has been increasing. What about the students in the English-medium University of Malaya (later University of Singapore)? Were they just apathetic frivolous nerds, as they are frequently portrayed vis-à-vis the Chinese school students, blissfully unaware of, or oblivious to the political currents sweeping through Singapore and Malaya? This paper discusses and reflects on the myths surrounding their activism in the 1950s and 1960s.

 

Edgar is an instructor in the NUS Department of History and has previously studied student activism in the University of Malaya and the University of Singapore. Together with Loh Kah Seng, Seng Guo-quan and Lim Cheng Tju, he co-authored The University Socialist Club and the Contest for Malaya: Tangled Strands of Modernity (AUP and NUS Press, 2012).  

Hong Lysa
Independent Scholar and Historian

Edgar Liao

Historian

Edgar Liao (right)

 

Living

with

Myths