Don't forget role of colonial Britain in shaping Singapore

Statue of Sir Stamford Raffles along the Singapore River.
Statue of Sir Stamford Raffles along the Singapore River.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

As a visitor to Singapore from the United Kingdom this summer, I am struck by the lack of attention given in this bicentennial year to the role of colonial Britain in shaping Singapore.

It is true that the British messed things up in so many ways.

They treated other races like second-class citizens, they were utterly incompetent in defending the island from the Japanese and they committed atrocities such as the Batang Kali massacre. But it wasn't all bad.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew is often credited with being the founding father of Singapore, but where was that great mind trained? At Raffles Institution, a British school founded by Sir Stamford Raffles, at the London School of Economics and at Cambridge University in Britain.

Singapore is right to be a proud and independent multiracial state free of the shackles of colonialism, but it is now big and powerful enough to give credit where credit is due.

Daniel Emlyn-Jones (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2019, with the headline 'Don't forget role of colonial Britain in shaping Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe