Subhas Chandra Bose, a place in Singapore’s history

There is an ongoing debate for an honourable place in the history of Singapore for Subhas Chandra Bose of the Indian National Army. Some Indian nationalists wanted to erect a statue of Bose somewhere prominent to honour his role in fighting for the Independence of India. Under most circumstances this is a call that would be appreciated by many who fought against British colonialism.

Bose was using Singapore as a base for his uprising against the British Raj in India. The main reservation against such a proposal was that Bose was working with the Japanese invading army that inflicted horrendous pain and torture on the local citizens. No one is questioning if Bose and his army had any part in the aggression against the local citizens. But for being on the side of the inhuman murderers was enough to rule him out for a place of honour in our country and history. Bose was honoured by the Japanese with a statue in a temple in Japan. Think he held the rank of a general in the Japanese Army.

The Indians, especially those in India, rightly must honour this nationalist that set up a resistance against the British. To the Indians, he was undoubtedly a national hero. To Singaporeans, he was on the wrong side of our history. The pain and suffering of the locals under the Japanese Occupation is an indelible scar in the minds of our forefathers. I don’t think Singaporeans would want to honour him for working with the Japanese that tortured and killed our forefathers, raped our women, with a bust in any part of Singapore.

Let Subhas Chandra Bose be honoured by the beneficiaries of his nationalism. If only he was not on the side of the brutal Japanese, Singaporeans would have no issue with his place in our history.


admin said...

Ask George Yeo. He is the one who had asked Heritage Board to restore Bose's memorial.


newhik said...

The fact that is was George Yeo who had spoken out for Bose looks extremely like its a PR exercise.
let's not forget that George Yeo had been the Foreign Minister and he should be the one to talk the terms of the FTA with India.

Who cares about Singapore's dignity or the people's feelings if he can bootlicked the big countries like China and India into using Singaporean services

Anonymous said...

Since he is "honoured" in Japan, send it to Japan.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi admin, welcome to the blog.

George got to think a bit deeper and be more sensitive. Many people suffered under the barbaric Japanese. The pain is still there.

john said...

It's a complicated issue. Bose came more than a year after the Sook Chin Massacre, and if you visit the national archives you will find that many involved in the INA and IIL, decried the Japanese treatment of the Chinese earlier, when they found out what happened. The INA is an important part of the history of many Indians here. Is it problematic because of the Japanese alliance? Yes. But should we pretend it never happened or should we decry their involvement with the INA? No. Let's be clear,it is anachronistic to speak of a "singaporean" identity between 1942-5. Yes there was a sense of Malayan-ness and yes there was a sense of community that transcended ethnicity. But many communities here were outward looking deriving their identity as overseas diasporas. Bose was and is a hero to many Indians including Indian Singaporeans, many of whom fought with the INA. They had nothing to do with Japanese atrocities. Let us embrace the complexity of that period of history and deal with it. Not streamline some aspects of it into oblivion. I feel that no disrespect is done to the victims of the Japanese (one of whom was my greatgrandfather)by the building of a Bose statue. History is filled with unlikely alliances for a variety of reasons other than ideological agreement, such is the nature of war and politics. - John

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi john, welcome to the blog.

Bose was an independence fighter and all Indians should be proud of him. And he should be remembered as a great Indian soldier in the history books of India. He is in our history book here, not wiped away.

To erect a bust for him is an act to honour someone in our history. The sticky part here is that Bose was on the side of the Japanese butchers. Though the people then were not citizens but subjects of the British Empire, they still had a loose association as people here and were inhumanly violated.

I think many will not want to honour anything linked to the Japanese occupation. Some may not mind. But we are individuals expressing our personal opinions.

What the govt is going to do is a separate matter.

Anonymous said...

Subhas Chandra Bose and his INA officers must have known of the atrocities committed by the Japanese and had the opportunity to disassociate themselves from the Japs. Instead they chose to turn a blind eye to these atrocities and ally themselves with the Japs under the pretext of fighting for Indian independence at the cost of the sufferings of the local population who had nothing whatever to do with Indian independence save for some local Indians. There is no justification to glorify an honour tainted with the blood of innocent people.

Anonymous said...

Some may want a bust of Bose erected and some will want to throw stone, rotten egg or want to disfigure the bust.
So, in order not to have problems over a figure with little or nothing to do with Singapore albeit a little sentimentality to few Singaporeans, it is best not to hurt the successors of the victims of the Japanese atrocity. Many Singaporeans have had their forebears tortured and killed by the Jeps.

Keep Bose in the history book.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to note that the defection to the Japanese army began when one of the Indian regiments (the 11th Indian regiment) deployed by the British to defend Malaya was defeated by Yamashita's army. The Japs succeeded in persuading many of this regiment's men, including its general by name of Singh, to defect to the Nippon army. Soon other units of the Indian army also defected. These made up a large part of the force that was to comprise the INA after the fall of Singapore.

The sore point felt by the local population who had been supporting the British against the Japs was the feeling of betrayal because the Indian army, together with other Commonwealth and local forces, was supposed to defend Malaya. And although they were finally defeated, they could have simply surrendered and become prisoners of war just like the other armies. But they chose to join the Japs which to a great extent expedited the advance of the Japs down the Malay Peninsular.

Now do you understand why most of us here reject Bose's memorial?