Don't make light of anti-colonial sentiments

Statue of Sir Stamford Raffles along the Singapore River.
Statue of Sir Stamford Raffles along the Singapore River.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Forum contributor, Mr Toh Cheng Seong, was self-contradictory in singing the praises of British colonialism while claiming not to have exonerated the British for their ills (Give credit to colonial Britain where it is due, Aug 31).

British ills on our land between 1819 and 1963 was none other than their colonialism. There is nothing to sing about without exonerating them for those ills.

On the other hand, it is not contradictory to condemn British colonialism while giving due credit to their numerous contributions to our national formation, if you keep in mind that these contributions would still have happened had the British come with mutual exchange of commerce, knowledge, technology and culture in their mind.

Because they did not, critical scholarship on colonial injustices arising from their malign motivations is indispensable in the assessment of Singapore's modern history and should not be regarded as "oversensitive and vindictive".

Nor should forensic scholarship of old Singapore's place in world trade be dismissed as "vain attempts to portray Singapore as more than a sleepy fishing village in 1819" when its importance to colonial Britain's wealth and prosperity are hardly recognised and largely ignored up till today.

Anti-colonialism should not be trivialised by Singaporeans. We are arguably most advanced regionally. Considering our land shortage, we have the motivation and wherewithal to repeat the same kind of injustice onto others, in the many little ways we can, if we fail to internalise the ills of colonialism.

Osman Sidek