Calling it a 'gallery' sanitises history

One cannot help but feel let down by the choice of the new name for the Memories at Old Ford Factory war museum ("Revamped war museum's name sparks questions"; Feb 10).

Using the term "gallery" makes it sound like the museum is akin to an art or exhibition gallery.

This misguides visitors by whitewashing and sanitising the atrocities committed by Japan during World War II.

It was the darkest chapter in Singapore's history, and a time when immense and, often, unnecessary hardship was foisted upon the local population by an oppressive occupation regime.

A spokesman for the National Library Board said that before deciding on the museum's new name, it consulted with the public via focus group sessions, including history academics, museum guides, students and parents.

It seems it missed an opportunity to educate Singaporeans by opening the forum to the wider public, for instance, via a naming contest, as well as more robust discussions of our history through social media channels.

Leow Aik Jiang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2017, with the headline 'Calling it a 'gallery' sanitises history'. Print Edition | Subscribe