Friday, April 18, 2008

Do more to end historical illiteracy

This title of this contribution in the Straits Time’s Online Forum hits the nail in the head about the need to do more about knowing our past. The relentless destruction of “old” things may be the reason why the young has a disconnection with the past. When we are unaware of our roots, calling anywhere home in any parts of the world will not make any difference.

The Straits Times
Online Forum

April 18, 2008

I WRITE in support of Dr Irving Chan Johnson's letter on Tuesday, 'Cemetery closure means loss of Singapore heritage'.

Against the backdrop of globalisation, industrialisation and modernisation, Singapore's continuous development and redevelopment of our landscapes have undeniably caused Singaporeans to be (what I shall term here as) 'self-culturally raped'. We have moved to a modern era whereby dollars and cents make sense more than anything else and that is a pity as humanised factors such as understanding of our ancestors has to take a back seat. While I understand that this is an inevitable process in a land-scarce country like Singapore, it is imperative for the state to be well aware of the adverse intangible effects of changing Singapore's landscape at such a rapid rate.

History entails the understanding of not just the past but also the present and gives a glimpse of our future. While the state has always been taking a very pragmatic approach of investing in science and technology, social sciences such as history has its inherent value. History cultivates analytical and critical thinking and serves as a nation-building tool to galvanise the fragmented present generation of Singaporeans of diverse ethnicity, religion, likes and tastes. An understanding of events and landscapes of the past will help Singaporeans of present and future generations to forge a sense of common identity and remain rooted in Singapore. Hence, I urge the Government to bring history beyond classrooms and to do more to end historical illiteracy in Singapore.

Jonathan Lim Wen Zhi

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