Celebrate our heritage in more tangible ways

ST Letters
May 8, 2016

The fact that an Anzac Day ceremony was held last month at the Kranji War Memorial to remember the Australian and New Zealand troops who died here during World War II only sharpens the irony of the planned exhumation of the tomb memorial in Choa Chu Kang Cemetery of local patriots killed during the war ("Stories set in stone"; April 17).

It is a rather unique Singaporean trait that our physical size is often used as an excuse to emasculate our own history on the altar of untrammelled progress.

Should greater efforts not be made instead to preserve the few historical vestiges we have left, given our short history and scarcity of land?

While there have been attempts lately to tap the Singaporean obsession with food to celebrate our heritage, there is the feeling that these are merely token efforts.

More tangible endeavours are needed, such as those initiated by tomb researcher Raymond Goh, to keep the memories of our pioneer generation alive.

His tireless work to uncover the records of those buried in Bukit Brown - including pioneers who not only founded clan associations, schools, banks and hospitals, but also lent their names to many streets in Singapore - has inspired others to follow in his footsteps.

There are also new heritage trails, award-nominated plays, and books such as World War II@Bukit Brown and Tigers In The Park: The Wartime Heritage Of Adam Park.

These endeavours are veritable proof that history is living and need not be confined to dusty archives.

Our moniker, the Little Red Dot, reminds me of a record button and the onus to preserve and keep our history alive and, more importantly, educate ourselves, especially the younger generation, on where we came from and the roots of our collective identity and national soul.

Leow Aik Jiang