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Myths VII deals with the making of the nation, examining official efforts to shape the national identity and proscribe transgression. Christine Han explores the myth of Singaporeanness in citizenship education, while Teo Soh Lung traces the history of the Law Society in the 1980s, and Chua Beng Huat discusses the banning of the film, To Singapore, with Love.

The Myth of Singaporeanness: Values and Identity in Citizenship Education

Christine Han

University College of London


At Independence, Singapore was not a nation in the true sense the term. The nation has to be created, and this was done in part through the construction of a collective memory or the imagining of a community; this will be referred to in brief as a ‘myth’.

Christine Han will argue that a major aim of citizenship education in Singapore since Independence has been to promote this myth of Singaporeanness. She will look at the elements that make up this myth, at how the myth addresses different aspects of the individual – the personal and social, and the moral, civil and political - and the aims that it has served.


Christine Han (Dr) is a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Education, University College London. She did her doctoral studies on citizenship education under Professor Richard Pring at the University of Oxford Department of Educational Studies. She subsequently taught at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological College, before moving to London and taking a position at her current institution. Her areas of interest include citizenship education in Singapore and East Asia, social movements in East Asia, and education policy referencing -East and West.


Christine visits regularly to teach on an MA programme, and enjoys the simple pleasures that Singapore offers – hanging out at hawker centres and coffee shops, pottering around Arab Street, and not having to worry about hypothermia if she goes out without a jacket.  


Political Lawyers: The Development and Clampdown of the Law Society in the 80s

Teo Soh Lung

Independent researcher


In the 1980s, the Law Society of Singapore was very much in the limelight. To the government, it was acting as a political pressure group. To the lawyers, it was just performing its statutory duty under the Legal Profession Act by commenting on laws. That conflict led the State to intervene by amending the law to remove its president as well as the statutory duty. Was the Law Society carrying out its professional duties or was the government right in accusing it of politicking and diminishing their role in society?


Teo Soh Lung graduated from the University of Singapore with a law degree in 1973. She co-founded the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme of the Law Society of Singapore in 1985. She was the chairperson of the Legislation Committee (Special Assignments) of the Law Society in 1986 which researched and reported on several bills including the Newspaper and Printing Presses Amendment Bill. She appeared before the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Legal Profession Amendment Act in 1986. A member of the Council of the Law Society in 1987, she was imprisoned without trial under the Internal Security Act in May 1987. She is the author of Beyond the Blue Gate, Recollections of a Political Prisoner. A founding member of Function 8, a social enterprise which hopes to restart the process of critical thinking, share experiences and reclaim our human rights, she is now retired.


The Banning of a Film

Chua Beng Huat

National University of Singapore


For the government to ban a film is for it to show its hands of repression; consequently, we have to believe that it is not a decision that is taken lightly. The recent banning of Tan Pin Pin’s film, To Singapore, with Love, provides an occasion to reflect on why the incumbent government has taken an obviously unpopular and potentially politically costly act. For a government that characterises itself as ‘future-oriented’ rather than ‘backward-looking’, why is it so possessive about national history?


Chua Beng Huat is Professor of Sociology at the National University of Singapore.






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