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Transcript of Singapore's History
The Singapore Stone
Singapore as a Port
Weapons of the Pirates
Plight of the Early Immigrants
Back in those days, there were no proper toilets, thus this bucket was used in its place. Buckets were used to collect human waste and the waste would later be transferred to estates where cash crops were grown on a large scale. Asian population did not like colonial intervention thus, the idea of a town sewage collection suggested by the Municipality was opposed.
Early Settlers and their Occupations
World War II (The Attack)
Changi Prison Cell Door
Post War Years (1945-1959)
Food Control Registration Card
Election and Self Government
This is a fragment from an inscribed monolith, known as the Singapore Stone. It is considered the earliest writing found in Singapore, and was discovered at the mouth of the Singapore River. Scholars had have different views on the language and dates. It was possibly from the 10th to 14th Century, and possibly written in Sumatran or old Javanese
This stone shows that Singapore had an established writing system. It also suggest that people from powerful countries, like Java or Sumatra, came to Singapore and spread their influence.
Artefacts found in Bukit Larangan and the Singapore River
This picture shows a Parang ilang, a type of cleaver where the cutting edge is usually convex, and a Kampilan Pirate sword, which is an extremely dangerous weapon as one blow can be fatal. These weapons were used by pirates to hijack unsuspecting passing ships.
These are artefacts found in Bukit Larangan and near Singapore River, which were found in the early 1900s. By looking at the colours and designs, it can be inferred that these came from different parts of the world, mainly China, Thailand and Vietnam. These artefacts could have been brought in by traders or merchants. who came to Temasek to carry out business transactions.
These artefacts suggest Singapore was a popular port as it had many trade relations with many powerful countries, like China, India, and Indonesia even before 1819.
We can infer that piracy was common and early Singapore was not very safe. Pirates have the freedom to go around with these deathly weapons and kill as they please.
The Revere bell
This bell was presented by Maria Revere who gave it to the first Church of St. Andrew in Singapore. After dark, early Singapore was very dangerous because of the many pirates and criminals. Thus, they would ring this bell every night to remind the sailors and residents to go back to their homes or boats for their own safety.
This suggests that Singapore was very unsafe, and sometimes people could lose their lives because of piracy. So for protection purposes, people worked together to warn others that there are pirates, and to protect themselves.
This shows that early Singapore's living conditions were extremely unhygienic. The people led hard lives while living in deplorable conditions.
Early days were tough for the migrants, they had physically demanding jobs and lived in harsh conditions. Thus, they were driven to opium dens to "relieve" their pain. Opium was very addictive drug and it was also expensive, so when prices for it went up, many resorted to stealing or other crimes to support their habit. This was why Dr Lim Boon Keng wanted to ban opium as it was bringing more harm than good. The rich would lie on their hips on an opium bed which is like a wooden bench and smoke, while the poor would be lying on the pavements or on the streets.
This conveys that early Singapore already had a distinct difference between rich and poor. There was inequality amongst other problems like opium which would obstruct the founding of early Singapore.
During the Japanese invasion, bicycles were commonly used by the Japanese soldiers as it suited the Malaysian terrain since it was resourced from Malaysia. These bicycles were commandeered from the people as the Japanese troops made their way down Malaya. These was unsuspected since most armies would be coming into battle with huge tanks or with huge deadly machinery. This thus caught the British off guard.
This shows us how intelligent the Japanese were and they knew how to change a situation to their advantage. This contributed to them eventually winning the British.
This Japanese flag is a pennant which displays the individual seal and signature of Captain Sonokawa. He led the Genzan Air Corps to sink the two British battleships,
Repulse and Prince of Whales
. The sinking of these premier ships signified that Malaya was without the protection of any British battle ships. 840 British sailors were killed in this single attack, these were the first premier ships to be sunk by air-power alone! The signatures on this flag was the vow the Air Corps made to fight till death.
We can see how the Japanese had a strong will to win at all costs and how they made use of their military intelligence to defeat the British.
This was an old cell door of Changi jail. Many ex-British soldiers (POWs) would be cramped into this tiny cell, the food they got was very scarce and it had to be shared between everyone! They were all very scrawny and weak and the living conditions were terrible. The only communication they had with the outside world was also through this tiny peephole in the door itself. Some unlucky ones even took their last breath in this tiny cells.
This tells us how cruel the Japanese were. No one dared to show defiance to the Japanese or they could be punished or even killed on the spot.
The rickshaw was one of the earliest mode of transport before cars were invented. It came to Singapore in the late 19th century and it was the main form of economical human-powered transport. It symbolises pain and hardship as some rickshaw-coolies fell to their deaths while pulling it.
This symbolises the suffering the people at that time went through just to feed themselves. All of their efforts will in turn help Singapore to grow into a prosperous port.
Victim's Personal Items
A selection of personal possessions of victims that were executed were found in Jalan Puay Poon in 1966. Amongst them, there is a stethoscope. This suggests that educated people like medical professionals were not spared.
Chettiars were trained money-lenders. There would be a wooden cupboard placed against the walls behind them to stall their personal belongings and business materials as they had very limited space. They also believed that money was a blessing from the deities and thus they were very thrifty. They would donate part of their earnings to temples regularly to show their gratitude to the gods.
This shows us that the Japanese killed those who they think were able to defy and contradict their rule. It is unimaginable how ruthlessly the Japanese treated these people and other civilians as well.
This tells us that the people then had jobs, the chettiars contributed significantly to transform Singapore from a small fishing village to a bustling port.
Even though the British came back , there was still poverty. There were food shortages thus, ration cards were distributed by the British Military Administration. People could use this to buy rice, flour, sugar and salt at controlled prices.
This shows that the people were living hard lives and sometimes, they had to starve! The people made sacrifices for the well-being of everyone such that they could survive.
The Samurai sword
A high-ranking Japanese army officer in Singapore offered this samurai sword as a sign of surrender to a civilian internee. These informal ways of surrendering took place before the formal Japanese surrender ceremony on 12th September 1945.
This is a symbol of justice and freedom. The people of early Singapore was finally freed from the harsh Japanese rule during the Japanese Occupation.
David Marshall achieves partial self-government
He was a very talented lawyer who had good oratorical skills. He gained massive support from the public and was the leader of the Labour Front party. David Marshall to his best to give Singapore self-government but only succeeded in getting partial self-government. This was because the British still felt that Singapore needed their protection from the Communist threat.
We can thus deduce that early Singapore has a system of government which helped shape early Singapore.
These pieces of kitchenware was used back when electricity and water supply was still a luxury which people in kampongs could not afford. All these were operated by hand and did not require electricity. For example, this food larder has netting to keep out vermin and flies to better preserve the food kept inside it.
We can tell that the people were intelligent and knew how to improvise to make objects that meet their needs yet still cheap since they had no electricity.
The supply of water depended on what was available. This public standpipes was installed by the Public utilities Board for villages which could not afford piped water. This water was used for many purposes like cooking and for bathing.
The people's lifestyle was ever changing as Singapore developed itself into a more advanced country. All of these factors helped transform Singapore into the bustling city that it is today.
David Marshall would make speeches opposite the Singapore Cricket Club which is at the Padang. Every word he said could be heard by everyone, even the British officials. Thus, he garnered much support from the people during his elections campaign. He was Singapore's first Chief Minister in 1955.
David Marshall was one of the men who molded Singapore to be a prosperous city as it is today.
Singapore is the way it is today because of the many events and factors that took place over all these years.
Before 1819, Temasek was an advanced society which was a vibrant trading city, even though there were pirates. It had a writing system, but had changed so much that it is still undeciphered.
When Raffles came in 1819, Singapore became part of the British. Reforms took place, but life was very tough. People died due to poor living conditions. Though there were increasing opium addicts, the taxes from the sale of opium was helped build Singapore's infrastructure.
Additionally, the British brought in many immigrants who contributed to the entrepot trade by providing services and capital. Rich businessmen and Christian missionaries built schools.
However, the Japanese conquered prospering Singapore with good planning. Food shortages and killings destroyed stability and peace.
Had the British persevered, Singapore would still be under their power, never gain independence.
The British’s rule was rejected and the people wanted democracy. Since then, Singapore has prospered and is a respected first-world country.
The many challenges have shaped Singapore's history and has helped us learn from the past and further improve our society.