Don't rob colonial British of credit due them

While Singapore was once part of a wide-ranging maritime trade network, by 1819 this was in the distant past.
While Singapore was once part of a wide-ranging maritime trade network, by 1819 this was in the distant past.PHOTO: SINGAPORE BICENTENNIAL OFFICE

Contrary to Mr Anthony Oei's points (Raffles' arrival did not mark founding of modern S'pore; Jan 5), 1819 marked the founding of modern Singapore as it was then that Singapore became integrated into the global trade network.

While Singapore was once part of a wide-ranging maritime trade network, by 1819 this was in the distant past.

The trade network of the day was segregated into jealously-guarded spheres by middlemen, with goods from the original producers in the East passing through many hands before they reached destination markets in the West.

The British development of Singapore as a trade settlement, given that 1819 Singapore did not yet have the necessary facilities to play a role in the global trade network, should therefore mark the beginning of its modern era.

Their non-altruistic motives should not cloud our understanding of the objective contributions made to modern Singapore.

Chen Junyi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2019, with the headline 'Don't rob colonial British of credit due them'. Print Edition | Subscribe