Anti-colonial sentiment directed at idea of colonisation

No one should dismiss the indigenous society's sense of loss and injustice brought on by colonisation. Whether or not that society's lot improved as a result of colonisation is moot. History is too complex.
No one should dismiss the indigenous society's sense of loss and injustice brought on by colonisation. Whether or not that society's lot improved as a result of colonisation is moot. History is too complex.PHOTO: ST FILE

Many of the commentaries and news reports thus far have focused on the positive outcomes brought on by colonisation, and I sense many of the bicentennial commemoration programmes do so too (Looking back to chart way forward; Jan 27).

Naturally, descendants of migrant societies are more endeared towards historical developments that allowed their ancestors' immigration in the past.

That is all good, as no one should begrudge his historical past that brought him his present prosperity.

But no one should dismiss the indigenous society's sense of loss and injustice brought on by colonisation either. Whether or not that society's lot improved as a result of colonisation is moot. History is too complex.

Be that as it may, the anti-colonial sentiment is not directed towards the history but the very notion of colonisation itself.

This commemoration should enhance our resolve against any form of colonisation.

But because we can't empathise with this sense of loss, none of the commemoration programmes and reports has so far shed light on how a geographically strategic island could be lost to people from halfway across the world.

An understanding of the socio-political machinations that led to this would give us valuable lessons. Obviously, it would teach us about losing our country again.

Equally important is an awareness against inadvertently "colonising" other societies in the many ways we have become powerful today.

Lastly, it would also develop our empathy towards many societies whose lands are occupied against their will, even in this day and age.

Osman Sidek

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2019, with the headline 'Anti-colonial sentiment directed at idea of colonisation'. Print Edition | Subscribe