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Our history book is flawed.

I happened to meet this unhappy father who was disgusted with the untruths told in our history books taught in schools. He explained that today, the history books said Lee Kuan Yew is the father of modern Singapore and he won the independence for Singapore. What's wrong with that? Presumably his history book told a different story. He said in his days, Lim Yew Hock was the one who won independence for Singapore. I am not sure how many people read this version of history in school. I did not and neither did I know of anyone with this interpretation of history. I was telling myself, hey, I must have been taught wrongly as a history and PS student. I told him that the British only gave Marshall self government and a table next to the staircase for his office as Chief Minister. Marshall was so insulted that he protested and subsequently resigned. Lim Yew Hock became the next Chief Minister with internal self government. Not independence. We broke from the British by becoming part of Malaysia in 1963 but gained full independence from Malaysia in 1965. Now he was not happy and not convinced with my version of our history. He threw up his credential as a Constitutional Law expert and that his facts were right. Lim Yew Hock was the one who won independence for Singapore. Self government is independence. I don't know how many Singaporeans are still living with this version of Singapore's history?


Abao said...

History is written by the 'victors' in whatever way they deem fit. The stories of the 'losers' gets lost eventually as less and less people recall or preserve it; thus leading to a skewed perspective in time to come and past events repeating itself...

Anonymous said...

The history of Singapore should always be taken with a pinch of salt. It shall be rewritten when the PAP no longer rule the roost.

Anonymous said...

Maybe i am the odd one.

I am born before independence and tend to like the earlier days of my life.

Living is messy nowadays, look at the many infightings within our society!

It seems to be more lawless/disorganized as we get older from independence. The irony is that, Singapore probably has the most Rules and Regulations or Laws in the World(i think so lah).


redbean said...

when spore got its independence is a historical fact and should not be an issue. and i am astonished to believe that there are singaporeans who would dispute this fact. this issue is nothing personal. we are indepedent or we are not and when.

Anonymous said...

"Presumably his history book told a different story.."

how come his copy of history book is still around, arent they all burnt already?

redbean said...

hi Abao, nice pics.

to answer anonymous, this guy carries his history books in his head. i am still scratching my head for i have never come across such history books.

someone tell me that i am wrong, that singapore got its independence in 1959 through lim yew hock.

Anonymous said...

Redbean, you get your so-called historical facts from history books, which are written by victors, in our context the PAP. You must stop referring to historical data as facts. Quite simply, they are not as they can and will change depending on the flavour of the day..

redbean said...

you are right, and it is a fact that history is written by the victors. but the fact that was not an independent state during lim yew hock's time is a historical fact. it was still a british colony given some self rule.

Anonymous said...

Redbean, that is just your interpretation of the word 'independent'. That unhappy father had a different idea, and he is not entirely wrong either. You yourself had inferred in your blog post that there are multiple versions of history. Who's to say your version is correct, whereas the unhappy father's one is not?

redbean said...

true. someone want to define what is the officially accepted meaning of independence?

redbean said...

i raise this issue for discussion for one purpose. we may have our our biases over issues and people. but we cannot allow our biases to result in being untruthful to facts and truth. the least we owe ourself is to be true to truth.

some definition of independence may regard the term self governed, partial or full, as independence. but for full independence, it must embody all the elements of an independent state. independence of legislature, foreign affairs, internal affairs, armed forces etc.

officially we only got our full self government in late 1959. but we were still part of the british empire, and the british forces were running this place for the british empire. if i am not mistaken, those born in 1959 will still be designated as british subjects in their birth certificates. correct me if i am wrong.

the british forces only withdraw in late 1960s unilaterally. not that we have a choice to tell them to leave. the island still belong to the british empire and if they refuse to leave, we cannot do anything about it. we cannot exercise our rights as a sovereign nation to tell the british forces to leave.

are we then an independent country in those circumstances? yes, we declared ourselves to be an independent country in 1965. ok. in 1965 the british also acknowledged that we are then an independent state. 1959?

in 1959, other than self govt, we were anything but an independent state.

Anonymous said...

We cannot even freely elect our own representatives in Parliament. What independence are you talking about, redbean? In my opinion, we are still being colonised. It's just that our new masters look and sound like us.

Anonymous said...

Redbean, 1.44pm. Just substitute every occurrence of the word British in your comment with PAP.

Anonymous said...

History is also sometines written with plenty of bias. Just look at the history of the Japanese occupation of China, Korea and SEA. The Japanese have one version, the rest of the Asian countries have another. Nobody has the last say after more than half a century. They are still arguing, like us.

Lost Citizen

redbean said...

if self govt was independence, david marshall would not have been so disgusted by it and resigned.

if self government was independence, lim yew hock would have proclaimed it on his return from london. but it was not, it was just plain self govt, no independence. they don't invent the words self government for nothing.

we were still ruled by a british governor till yusoff ishak took over as the yang di pertuan negara in Dec 1959. still then, no independence.

it only took lky to proclaim our independence on 31 Aug 63, 2 weeks before we formally became part of malaysia.

then came the formal independence declaration again in 9 Aug 65. we became the Republic of Singapore, an independent nation state.

Anonymous said...


You have just written part of the Singapore History as i have experienced it.

As regard the Independence of the State of Singapore, it carried little meaning to the inhabitants then. It was just a change of a set of administrators. There was hardly any change to the quality of livings.

If You do a poll, most of the old folks would not be able to make any difference between the Colonial Government and the Local One.


redbean said...

the issue is independence of a nation state. as for the individual level, in many instances, no matter what systems, they are the same to the poor and weak. they will always be exploited in a matter of degree.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Who ever controls the country will create its own version of history — usually goes along the lines of:

"The country was in a mess. Then 'We' took over and the country prospered" Nothing wrong with that. People need to believe their 'saviours' are noble and pure.