Wrong to suggest giving more credit to colonial Britain

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

I wrote a letter suggesting that colonial Britain should be given more credit for shaping Singapore (Don't forget role of colonial Britain in shaping Singapore, Aug 24).

I thank Forum contributors for their responses to this letter, from which I have learnt a great deal.

To use an extreme analogy, Adolf Hitler introduced motorways to Germany, but it would be incendiary to suggest he should be celebrated for this, given what else he did.

It is true that Britain does like to forget the darker side of its colonial past. For example, the victims of the Batang Kali massacre in 1948 still have not received justice from the British Government, despite years of campaigning by survivors and family members. I applaud Mr Ng Qi Siang's call to decolonise the curricula of British universities (More critical view of Britain's colonial project needed, Aug 28).

The best way for different cultures and nations to learn more about one another is through friendship, and I sincerely hope that once the embarrassing mess of Brexit is over, Britain and Singapore can forget the past and deepen their friendship as they move together into the future.

Daniel Emlyn-Jones (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2019, with the headline 'Wrong to suggest giving more credit to colonial Britain'. Print Edition | Subscribe