Battlebox has always offered fair assessment of events

The portrayal of the campaign is infinitely better now than it was when he was here before, and that it is a "more comprehensive" and a "fairer assessment of what went on than it had been before".
The portrayal of the campaign is infinitely better now than it was when he was here before, and that it is a "more comprehensive" and a "fairer assessment of what went on than it had been before".PHOTO: ST FILE

During his recent visit to the Battlebox, retired brigadier James Percival said that, in his memory, the place "hadn't been developed nearly as much as it is now" (Percival back in S'pore, 77 years after surrender; Feb 7).

He then went on to say that the portrayal of the campaign is infinitely better now than it was when he was here before, and that it is a "more comprehensive" and a "fairer assessment of what went on than it had been before".

I am afraid that Mr Percival has misremembered what he saw.

The Battlebox opened as a ticketed exhibition on Feb 15, 1997, on the 55th anniversary of the fall of Singapore.

The comprehensive set-up he saw on Feb 4 was produced in 1997, not over the last few years.

At the time, the narrative of the Battlebox focused fully on re-enacting the morning of Feb 15, 1942, in the hours before Singapore fell.

It was based on information collated from years of research.

A portrayal of the Malayan Campaign was purposely avoided as it was something already widely discussed on various platforms and it was decided that familiar material and arguments should not be rehashed.

During his visit to the Battlebox in 1996, the bunker was still in the early stages of being turned into a World War II experience.

There was no portrayal of the Malayan Campaign when he toured the bunker.

How is it then that the narrative he heard on this recent visit is "a fairer assessment" of something that did not then exist?

While I am sympathetic to Mr Percival for having a name that is associated with the fall of Singapore, he should know that the Republic's institutions have never afforded his father an unfair assessment.

We have known for decades that Singapore's fall was not his father's doing.

Tan Teng Teng (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2019, with the headline 'Battlebox has always offered fair assessment of events'. Print Edition | Subscribe