Britain should thank us for services rendered

The British Union Jack flag flies in front of the clock face of Big Ben in London on Aug 29, 2019.
The British Union Jack flag flies in front of the clock face of Big Ben in London on Aug 29, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

Mr Toh Cheng Seong is entitled to be rapturous over colonialism and its purported benefits, and his points are taken (Give credit to colonial Britain where it is due, Aug 31).

However, there is no need to be over the moon about our former colonial masters and to keep thanking them because that is a one-sided picture of our colonial history.

Mr Toh forgets the enormous benefits the British colonists reaped from planting their trading post here.

They scored their goal of swelling the empire's coffers from the riches of the East. He also overlooks the numerous services rendered that helped build colonial Singapore.

For example, local manpower cleared the land in the early years for development, aided the colonial ruler to attend to the needs of the multiracial population, and supported the British mercantile houses in their operations.

Our forefathers were like today's Singaporeans doing their bit for the good of the country.

The big irony was that they worked for a foreign power and business people who had come, not to improve their lives per se, but to enrich themselves at their expense.

Adding to the injustice, they toiled under poor working conditions, with low pay, discrimination, bullying and other colonial ills.

It takes two to tango. What we benefited was no free lunch. Colonial Britain should thank us for services rendered and give us the credit where credit is due.

I hope this significant fact of history will become an integral part of the equation, for a balanced picture, when we discuss our colonial past.

I am proud of the independent and sovereign nation built by native talent, and of our success - without apologies.

Anthony Oei