Singapore 2017: The War Memorial, A Flower For The Lost
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Singapore went through a Japanese occupation during the world war 2. The island has had an overwhelmingly Chinese-majority population which lent their brethren in mainland China a lot of money and support in their fight against Japan. So when Singapore finally fell to the Japanese, the revenge of the occupiers was brutal.
I won’t dwell too much on the details of cruelty the Chinese of Singapore were subjected to during the occupation years between 1942 – 1945. There is a wealth of historic records and references available. A large section of the Singapore national museum is dedicated as a permanent exhibition to remind us of the horrors of the occupation. Random thought number #1: I wonder if Japanese tourists visit that particular exhibition?
Of course, there is also the War Memorial Park, pictured above. It is not exactly a tourist attraction, and you certainly won’t find a lot of people flocking here to put down picnic mats during weekends. Firstly, this plot of land gets a lot of direct sunlight and there isn’t a lot of shade. Secondly, there is this somber feeling about a memorial dedicated to lives lost in a great war which makes it so unattractive as a place to spend your time here for too long. Hence despite the fact that this memorial park is located right in the middle of the CBD, there are very few visitors. In fact, thousands of people pass by it everyday and they hardly ever think about it.
Random thought #2: After Singapore gained independence, then-prime minister Lee Kuan Yew travelled to Japan to seek recompense for Japanese war atrocities committed during the occupation. Japan complied, and provided a substantial amount of recompense that proved quite crucial for the struggling new nation. This also signified the official start of the postwar Singapore-Japan diplomatic relationship. In layman’s terms, this means, “Let’s be friends and not dwell on the past. Except in museums and historic TV dramas.”
War Memorial Architecture Abstract
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Random thought #3: Fun fact. In one the many autobiographies about Lee Kuan Yew, he recounted how crime rates under the unwanted Japanese occupiers were – ironically – actually lower than when Singapore was under British colonial rule. Some people didn’t lock their homes! 😮 “Because the punishments for crime were so severe”, he said. I believe his observation played some part in shaping the laws of Singapore – which may carry punishments that are relatively severe compared to some other countries. “People don’t behave when you are too lenient with them. You need mean punishments to maintain law and order. This teeny-tiny country can’t afford to have a lot of vices or chaos left unchecked to survive.”