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“Bullshit is the glue that binds us as a nation” 

In Political governance on 24/07/2017 at 5:01 am

“Bullshit is the glue that binds us as a nation” was said by George Carlin. He was an American stand-up black comedy comedian, actor, author, and social critic.

When Sonny Liew became the first S’porean to win an Eisner Award (In fact he won three*: the Eisner Awards are the comic industry’s Oscars.), I realised that “Bullshit is the glue that binds us as a nation” applies here too because of the hostility to alternative narratives to the “The S’pore Story: The PAP Version”.

“The S’pore Story: The PAP Version”

goes something like this: Newly independent from its bigger neighbor Malaysia, small and vulnerable in the middle of the Cold War, beset by Communist infiltrators and surrounded by domino nations, Singapore finally found stability and a road to prosperity when its founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, defeated dangerous left-wing opponents, regrettably by having many tossed in jail.

“The S’pore Story: The PAP Version”

has been hammered home in textbooks, the mass media and television shows. To oppose it meant risking detention without trial, costly libel suits or extreme marginalization in a country where the state controls most purse strings and levers of power.

The above extracts are from

After the above book was published, Singapore’s National Arts Council (NAC) withdrew a publishing grant, and an official wrote in a letter to the constructive, nation-building ST that the book “potentially undermines the authority and legitimacy of the Government and its public institutions.”

(The author talks about his present relationship with the NAC: http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-40606324/singapore-artist-tops-comic-book-oscars-nominations)

Then there’s “State of Emergency”, another novel. The author sent the first draft of book to NAC and his subsidy was stopped.

Synopsis:
Siew Li leaves her husband and children in Tiong Bahru to fight for freedom in the jungles of Malaya. Decades later, a Malaysian journalist returns to her homeland to uncover the truth of a massacre committed during the Emergency. And in Singapore, Siew Li’s niece Stella finds herself accused of being a Marxist conspirator.

Jeremy Tiang’s debut novel dives into the tumultuous days of leftist movements and political detentions in Singapore and Malaysia. It follows an extended family from the 1940s to the present day as they navigate the choppy political currents of the region. What happens when the things that divide us also bind us together?

Praise:
“A well-written novel, and it has a wide historical perspective.”—Philip Holden, author of Heaven Has Eyes and NUS Professor of English

“A superbly structured piece of work. The sweep of the dramatic narrative is impressive, with just the right dose of intrigue and mystery.”—Haresh Sharma, Resident Playwright, The Necessary Stage

https://shop.epigrambooks.sg/products/state-of-emergency

(Btw, both books are published by Epigram Books, owned by Edmund Wee. He wants to make S’pore Literature Great.)

Then there’s Mr. Thum Ping Tjin, better known as PJ Thum, a Research Associate at the Centre for Global History and co-ordinator of Project Southeast Asia, University of Oxford. He’s got local academics foaming with rage over his analysis of Operation Coldstore. He used declassified British archives to challenge the PAP narrative that S’pore faced a credible Communist threat. Really there’s nothing really very new about his analysis. Some Western historians had been disagreeing with the PAP’s narrative even before the British declassified their records, basing their analysis on information available from US and Australian archives.

(Here’s his analysis of the 1964 “racial riots”: https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2016/07/26/why-history-matters-to-singapore/. It’s not the official narrative.)

Btw, he has his own alternative history podcast on S’pore. Again this often goes against the PAP narrative but in the main it follows what Western historians have talked about. S’poreans are generally not aware of what Western historians write about S’pore because their books and articles are about the region, and the S’pore material is just a “little red dot”.

I’m no fan of his because I think in his analysis of S’pore in the 50s and 60s, he leaves out the bigger picture of Western fears and concerns, not unreasonable, about the danger of Communism to their regional and global interests. For example, in any analysis of S’pore in the late 50s and early 60s, account must be taken of  the PKI,  the Indonesian Communist Party. By 1965, the PKI was the strongest communist party outside the USSR and China. It had influence over Sukarno.

———————————–

*Nominated in six categories for graphic novel “The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye”, Liew won three:

Best Writer/Artist,

Best US Edition of International Material – Asia, and

Best Publication Design and categories

 

 

 

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  1. where are all the non-ethnic chinese sg men who have pro-west and left-wing type of different thinking about sg past history ?

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