Recognise Singapore's history as part of its present

Singapore moved seamlessly from its status as a colony to an independent sovereign state.
Singapore moved seamlessly from its status as a colony to an independent sovereign state.PHOTO: SINGAPORE BICENTENNIAL OFFICE

A major part of Singapore's successful development lies in how it moved seamlessly from its status as a colony to an independent sovereign state, which can be attributed at least in part to accepting its colonial legacy positively, and building from its pre-existing foundations.

To an outsider like me, any "colonial hangover" of the sort that journalist Tee Zhuo describes would be much welcomed (Singapore's Bicentennial: Our colonial conundrum, Jan 13).

In no way do I believe Singapore to be holding on to old ideals, and I find its ability to recognise its history as an integral part of its present both realistic and refreshing.

The issues surrounding the statues of Sir Stamford Raffles are very similar to the recent concerns over the statues of Cecil Rhodes in South Africa and Oriel College, Oxford. These men lived in a different world with different moral values, and if we focus too much on the wrong things that they did, we lose sight of the positive contributions that they made.

We are now two generations removed from the colonial era. Britain has no problems looking up to its former colony as a role model, and surely Singapore likewise should have few qualms about retaining the memory of Raffles.

Richard Copus

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2019, with the headline 'Recognise S'pore's history as part of its present'. Print Edition | Subscribe