Was Lim Bo Seng truly a Singaporean war hero?

A longer, deeper lens on Singapore's military history should go beyond the overused stories of World War II heroism

In much of post-war South-east Asia, the central role played by militaries in the struggle for independence such as in Indonesia earned the armed forces a place in the national narrative.

For centuries, Vietnamese nationalism drew strength from its past of armed resistance against imperial authority. In the absence of a war of armed resistance to colonial authority, it is perhaps understandable that Singapore's military history draws upon its involvement in British colonial rule as a convenient starting point. There are, however, limits to appropriating Singapore's colonial military history as Singaporean.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2019, with the headline 'Was Lim Bo Seng truly a Singaporean war hero?'. Print Edition | Subscribe