31 January 2015
SIX years ago, while in secondary school, Ms Toh Yan Ling chose not to study history because she disliked the dry routine of memorising cold hard facts.
“History is in the past and dead,” said Ms Toh, now 19 and a final-year polytechnic student, recalling her thoughts back then. It was only while working on a video project on history for the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) last year that she began developing an appreciation for the subject.
For the first time, she learnt about the fire which swept through the Bukit Ho Swee squatter settlement on May 25, 1961, razing 2,200 attap houses and leaving 16,000 people homeless in its wake. In working to rehouse the victims quickly, the Housing Board undertook its first large-scale public housing project – sparking the transformation of Singapore’s physical landscape.
…But at least two historians think the danger of “forgetting” history may be overstated. Mr Kwa Chong Guan from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies argues that each generation chooses to remember the history it thinks is relevant.
“The anti-colonial riots which marked the end of colonialism and the struggle for independence may be central to an earlier generation. How is that relevant to a post-1965 generation?” he says.
RSIS / Online / Print
Last updated on 03/02/2015