Page 1

I S S U E E L E V E N / A P R I L 2 017




EDITOR’S NOTE Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before. - Captain Kirk (from Star Trek)

take its form in plane tickets, overweight bags, and stamped passports. We begin each trip with a return ticket at hand. Travel becomes a conscious decision, something made out of the spirit of adventure. These


that connects us in a worldwide network, of waves of migration where livelihoods were created, of the means we travel with, and of the ones who get left behind in the midst of travel. Beyond our personal experiences, lies a complex world with people scattered globally. Some travel out of choice, while others were thrown into unknown frontiers. At times, travel even con�licts with nature. We often travel without giving thought to where we travel from, and what enables us to travel. Thus, the theme for this issue is “to boldly go”, where we seek to understand how travel works and who were involved in it. Our team set out to unpack the multiple layers within travel, be it in Singapore or around the world. While we continue to look at tourism (Zhi En, pg. 26-27), we stretch beyond our comforts and begin to look at spaces that bring people to places. From airports (Adeline, pg. 34-35) to train stations (Emily, pg. 18-19), - - - --

and even the roads that we tread upon (Min Lim, pg. 38-39), we sought to explore these transient grounds and understand their signi�icance to travel. More than that, we look at how people used to travel; be it on

resettled communities from the Paci�ic Islands (Jia Yi, pg. 20-21), these articles remind us that not everyone had a willing choice in leaving home. Sometimes, even nature gets pulled into travel and become displaced from its natural habitats (Ruizhi, pg. 22-23). As we begin this discourse about travel, we delve into its multiple meanings where it becomes more than just a state of motion; it becomes a source of livelihood, a badge of national pride, a place where lives collide, and even a scar that one should never forget. I hope this issue of Mnemozine will lead you down pensive thoughts before the summer holidays begin. This marks my last issue as Chief Editor, and I look forward to passing Mnemozine on to newer batches of editors. Mnemozine has always been a mainstay in the NUS history community, be it our undergraduates or alumni. We work hard to live up to past standards, and represent our community in schools and amongst our corporate partners. As always, I thank the History Department for their kind support, and my team of designers, editors, and writers for their quality work and time. Mnemozine depends on readers like you to contribute and push for better articles here. Here’s to the summer break ahead, and may you venture ahead with brand

I hope this �inds you well.

Chief Editor Chng Shao Kai


- - - - - - - - - - - - ----

new eyes.


ones who stayed after travelling, or were left behind. From the Indian Partition (Glenn, pg. 28-29) to


�lying boats (Swee Yik, pg. 16-17) or the forgotten kolek (Joshua, pg. 32-33). Finally, we seek to address the

- - - - -

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

romanticised notions of travel often cast a shadow over the bigger picture – of train stations and airports


perspectives in foreign lands, and conquer the world bit by bit with every footstep. Wanderlust begins to

- - -

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

W hy do we travel? Sometimes, our hearts become restless in the comforts of home. We itch to seek new


ISSUE 11 / APRIL 2017


Chief Editor:


Chng Shao Kai

Deputy Editors: Ang Zhenye Calvin Chang Jeremy Yong Joshua Lim


Kwok Yiling

Design Team Ang Min Wei

04 05 07 08 10

Angie Ong

Mnemozine 11 Editorial and Design Team Of Ecstasy, Explorations, and Engagements Breaking New Grounds: Art History Minor A/P Bruce Lockhart: On Southeast Asia and Teaching Alumni from Another Campus: An Interview with A/P Koh Keng We

Corinne Gan Emerald Gan Gloria Chung

Contributors Adeline Chew


Calvin Chang Choo Ruizhi Douglas Ong Emily Eng Glenn Ong Goh Swee Yik Joshua Lim Lim Jia Yi Lim Su-Yi Loo Zhi-En Min Lim Teo Eng Han Timotty Tay

Credits Yusoff Abdul Latiff (Pages 5-6) �lickr.com/photos/al_yus/8627402465

Mnemozine is published by the NUS History Society and is distributed to all current students, staff, friends and benefactors of the society. As a non-pro�it entity, we welcome donations and other in-kind support. The views expressed by the writers remain solely their own and do not necessarily re�lect the of�icial view of the National University of Singapore and its af�iliates.

12 Keeping Track of Singapore’s History 14 I’m Feeling Supersonic: Concorde’s Reign as the Queen of the Skies

16 Flying Wet, A Brief History of Flying Boats 18 A Walk Down Memory Tracks along Tanjong Pagar Railway Station 20 Forced Migration in the Paci�ic 22 A Bear Travels 24 Boat People, The Journey to Singapore 26 The Tourist Romanticisation of the Scottish Gàidhealtachd in the Late 18th Century 28 A Tryst with Destiny, Seventy Years Since: Partition, Migration, and its Legacies

30 32 34 36 38

Migration Trends of Singapore and France Re-kolek-tions: Charting a History of Singapore’s Sampans Kept Under Wraps in Changi Airport Marco Polo: The Wanderluster All Roads Lead to Rome: Land Transport Networks in the Roman Empire

REVIEW 40 Forum : What is your favorite travel experience? 42 #Throwback : My Summer at Hogwarts

For more information, please email us at publications@nushissoc.org Want to relieve past memories? Find them at http://issuu.com/mnemozine




C h ief E d it or

Gloria Chung is a Year 2 History major

Chng Shao Kai is a Year 2 History major who takes photos to preserve each memory forever, in a bitter struggle against time. He enjoys the simple things in life, like milo-ping on weekdays and teh-ping on weekends. Check out his works on Instagram at @pewpew_away.

who might be mistaken as a freshie in FASS since she still doesn’t know her way around after one year. In her spare time, she loves designing and making embarrassing Telegram stickers sets of her friends.

Yi Ling is a third-year History major Lim Xiu Yu, Joshua is a full-time history buff. When he is not editing and writing articles for Mnemozine, he can be found chilling in museums, libraries or cafes... editing and writing for Mnemozine.

Ang Zhen Ye is a Year 1 History major who aspires to be a full-time sloth. On the days which he isn’t sleeping, he can be found in AS8 reading and enjoying a good cup of coffee. His interest lies in hunting for good coffee and food, as well as listening to and playing music.

Calvin is a �irst year student with a sweet tooth. He enjoys reading up on historical events or current affairs, especially with a scoop of ice-cream or a bag of candies.


who often psyches herself to exercise the next day (which almost never happens). Her greatest achievement to date is watching Hamilton live on Broadway after queuing four hours for cancellation tickets in -7℃ New York weather.

Angie is a Year 2 Global Studies

Yong Jie Li, Jeremy is a freshman who fervently reads music album reviews. When he isn’t dissecting popular culture (looking at you, Lady Gaga), he dives into Southeast Asian, American, social and cultural history.

Ang Min Wei is a �irst year student still

Corinne spends her time drawing and making things that mostly end up hidden in between stacks of books and crinkly age-stained papers. She dabbles in illustration, design and mural art; and is a collector of nostalgia. ca rgo co l l e c t i ve . co m / co re yga ny t

major who likes cinematic soundtracks, dragons and farming games. She believes in feminism, and has an estranged relationship with travelling.

�inding her way in the maze of staircases in FASS. Her interests lie in the arts, culture and design especially in the Asia region, sparked by her love for painting as well as her musical journey as a Chinese Orchestra member.

Emerald Gan is a Second year sociology major and human (questionable) designing her third Mnemozine. As president of the Go-Home Club she has multiple achievements in nap taking and is currently living in perpetual existential crisis.


(External Events)

(Internal Events)

Art History Minor Dr. Priya Maholay-Jaradi | hispmj@nus.edu.sg Inaugural convenor, Art History Minor (Department of History, NUS.)

The brand-new Art History Minor Programme launched in January 2017 by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at NUS is founded in collaboration with the National Gallery Singapore. In more ways than one, it revives the pioneering efforts of Michael Sullivan, the University of Malaya Art Museum’s first curator from 1954-1960. Sullivan contributed to Singapore’s inaugural art history curriculum which drew on the Museum’s collection. The present programme too seeks to rein in the NUS Museum, (which traces its origins to the University of Malaya Art Museum) the National Gallery Singapore and other local museums to craft its syllabus and create learning opportunities outside the classroom. One of the key aims of the programme is to move away from Eurocentric leanings of the discipline and devise a curriculum which includes plural locations, cultures and time-frames from across the globe. The introductory module and the module on the theory and approaches to art history, particularly reflect this revisionist and inclusive approach. The broad range of themes in the former cover prehistoric sites in France and central India, the highpoint of Egyptian and Greek art traditions, arts and technology of China, the South east Asian paradigm, the Italian and Mughal Renaissance, Arts of the Islamic worlds, Western and Asian modern art traditions and the contemporary arts. Art historians from FASS, Yale-NUS and National Gallery Singapore bring varied expertise to the modules and individual lectures. While the Minor can be completed by select cohorts the art history modules are open to all candidates. Underlying this idea of “no pre-requisites” is the belief that art history is not an elite discipline; on the one hand, visual analysis skills can be groomed, and on the other, visual materials are open to diverse readings and interpretations. This belief resonates with our students who have responded with enthusiasm to our first roadshow at NUS Museum in October 2016. Subsequently, the programme has enjoyed high enrolment numbers.

Students’ growing interest in the visual arts mirrors an exciting time in the art and cultural landscape of Singapore: namely expansion of our national museums, growth of flagship art events and a burgeoning segment of international exchange and exhibitions. As our museums cultivate new audiences, we at the National University aspire to groom the next generation of informed scholars, practitioners, patrons and custodians of living and past traditions of art.

Modules on offer for AY Modules on offer for AY 2017/18 Sem 1 2017/18 Sem 2 AH2101 Introduction to AH2101 Introduction to Art History (compulsory Art History (compulsory survey course) survey course) AH3203: Collecting Art in AH2203 Empire and Art in Europe and Asia India, Singapore and Malaya AH2202: Modern Art: A AH 3201: A History of Critical Introduction Contemporary Art AH3204: Theories and AH3202: Time Traveler: Methods in Art History The Curatorial in Southeast Asia AH2201: Visual Arts of China


A/P BRUCE LOCKHART: On Southeast Asia and Teaching This semester, Mnemozine had the opportunity to interview Associate Professor Bruce Lockhart and ind out more about his research, teaching work, and personal life. A/P Lockhart has been with the Department since 1998, and taught many junior college history teachers (many to which, he could recall in a blink of an eye). Beyond his passion for teaching, he busies himself with research on Southeast Asia and speci ically the Thai monarchy. Thank you for having this chat with us! What have you been up to lately (on-going projects, new research ields etc)? Well, Well, my on-going project is not really a new research ield – it’s a book on the Thai monarchy that I’ve been working on for quite some time now. The core of it dates back to my PhD dissertation, and I have been trying to update and upgrade it to a full book. That is for when I have time for research, which is not very much. I am also trying to work on a journal article. I have a lot of old research material that I have collected from the archives in Thailand 29 years ago. I am working on trying to use it, as I have never used anything from these materials yet. These ieldwork and research materials are from my original materials PhD too. In your opinion, what sets Southeast Asia apart from the world? In some ways, I am not sure if Southeast Asia is anything unique. It is a region that is de ined as a ield of specialisation, and we sometimes struggle with that de inition. But if you really try to de ine it as more than a general kind of historical and geographical entity, I think it becomes very dif icult. Certainly, in terms of ethnic diversity, linguistic diversity, cultural-religious diversity, it ranks as one of the most diverse regions in the world. So I guess if you want to ind it distinctive, it would be in its diversity. What inspired you to travel this region so extensively, and pick up several different languages? Well, you actually have to go back further in my past. My interest in Southeast Asia started when I was in secondary school, when the Vietnam War ended and a lot of Vietnamese refugees came to the States. I suddenly had Vietnamese classmates at school, so I began helping them with their English, and I started learning the Vietnamese language while listening to their music and picking up their culture as well. And that’s what started the whole thing almost forty years ago. So, I started off with Vietnam, before adding in Thailand as my second specialisation while I was still in graduate school. And then I had the chance to stay in Laos for 3 years, so I added on Laos as a third area of interest. Learning these languages meant that I could immerse myself in the local environment, and discover new sources of information previously inaccessible with English alone. The only place that I lived where I did not already know the language was in Laos, and so I was learning the language largely as I went along. Lao and Thai are very similar, so I could start with the founda tions of Thai and kind of teach myself. A language, at the very least, is a research tool. But if you want to really get a feel of the people and the culture of the country, obviously language is a crucial means of communication. 8

Chng Shao Kai | publications@nushissoc.org & Jeremy Yong | secretary@nushissoc.org

Amongst all the languages that you know, which one of them is your favourite by far? Actually, Actually, my favourite language is probably French. French was the irst foreign language that I’ve studied seriously. It is still the language that, after English, I speak the best. I sometimes think in French, when I am on my own. It is the one that I’ve studied for the longest time because I lived in France twice. So I have lived part of my adult life in French, as a language. Amongst the Asian languages, I would say it’s probably Vietnamese because Vietnam is the country that I have been most namese devoted to and it’s the irst Asian language that I have studied. In that sense, it is my favourite as it has a very strong place in my heart. Vietnamese only has 6 tones, and I always laugh when I hear Singaporean Chinese say that Vietnamese is a hard language. Mandarin Chinese has four tones, only two less than Vietnamese – why would you think it’s that hard? Vietnamese also has a huge amount of Chinese vocabulary in it, so it’s actualso ally quite easy for a Chinese speaker to pick it up. This is especially if you speak another dialect like Cantonese or Hokkien, as Vietnamese sounds a bit like the Southern dialects in China. Other than Southeast Asia, do you have any other teaching or research interests? In terms of research, no. I’m interested in Chinese history, but mainly in terms of interaction between China and Vietnam. That’s one topic that I’m still interested in looking—historically the relationship between those two. But to be interested in more than one country in Southeast Asia is already quite broad, and I can’t add much more beyond that. For my teaching interests – I love teaching about Christianity. Really, my History of Christianity module has become one of my signature modules. I Christianity also really enjoy teaching historiography. It was a big challenge for me at irst but I went into it and I really enjoy the challenge of teaching you all this kind of ‘cheemology’ about historical theory. So those are teaching interests. I have to be well informed about them to teach them so I would consider them academic interests as well.

What is your favorite part of NUS throughout these years? I think my favorite part has been the students because I enjoy spending time with students. And I think if I did not enjoy that, I certainly would not have stayed on. But I always say that Singapore is the most Westernized country that I lived in in Southeast Asia compared to Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. But Singaporean students are Westernized enough to understand ang moh and our culture but also Asian enough to have a fundamental respect for their teachers and I think that’s a very nice combination. Apart from academia, how do you spend your free time? I’m quite involved in church activities. And other than that, I try to spend time with people. I usually meet up with a couple of former students ideally, one a week, for a meal. I also try to give myself a good downtime at home with my cats just watching DVDs and reading novels before bedtime, so I think that bit of downtime on my own is very important to kind of balance a life that is usually quite full of people. This is just a random question: how many cats do you have? I’m down to two now. I started with six years ago, when I was in Kent Vale. Then I gave two away. Then gradually, because they are fairly old now so two of them died off and I’ve two left. It’s a mother and daughter. The mother is just a little bit older than the daughter. So mother’s maybe about 16-17. Our Our last question is: any words of wisdom or encouragement for the current batch of history students? Well you all have made a good choice, I think. History continues to be a very important discipline. It is also a quite employable discipline in terms of the future and history graduates continues to do good things including teaching and other things. So I think you all are in the right place and hopefully you all feel that as well.

You have been with NUS since 1998. What has changed and remained the same in NUS throughout the years? Well, Well, assuming what has changed the most is probably and especially the structure of undergraduate curriculum—it has changed dramatically in terms of the choices and the way it is structured since I irst arrived. The program for graduate students has certainly changed much more in an American direction, and moving away from a very British system. What has probably stayed the same, I think in many ways, is that under graduates are still as kiasu as they were 19 years ago. You still tend to choose modules largely based on whether or not whether you think they are tough and what they will do for your CAP… Those things have not changed very much over the years. I think in some ways, your seniors will ask me whether the students now are different from them. And I say, it’s changing in some small ways. In some more fundamental ways, it’s still roughly the same. Every year, we still have a critical mass of students coming in who want to major, who love history. That’s the most important continuity.



Singapore’s History Undeniably, the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) has played a crucial role in transporting Singaporeans throughout the island every day. While it de initely serves an important function in facilitating the ef icient movement of individuals within the country, little is known about its role in highlighting key transitions in Singapore’s post-independence history. These include bolstering Singapore’s status as an economic hub, promoting arts and culture in Singapore as well as facilitating the evolution of Singapore’s civil society. The MRT system was also used to promote arts and culture in Singapore. At the turn of the millennium, the government inThe MRT played a signi icant role in providing a platform to bol- creased focus on the local artistic scene. It introduced a cultural ster Singapore’s status as an economic hub. The initial develop- and creative policy in the 2000s, in which heritage, arts, design ment of the MRT network was simultaneous with Singapore’s in- and media were identi ied for their economic value ‘beyond tention to create a highly-developed economy. To study the practi- their role in tourism to include their export value and their imcality and feasibility of building such a rail network in Singapore, portance in attracting global workers’.6 The introduction of the the government initially employed a team from Harvard Univer- North-East Line in 2003 provided a platform for local arts to sity as well as consultants from Wilbur Smith and Associates lourish with the implementation of the Art in Transit pro1980.1 The Harvard team concluded that a reorganised all-bus gramme that showcased artworks by established artists. Occusystem making use of expressways could boost bus travel speeds, pying an extensive area of Singapore, the Art in Transit proand solve the central street capacity problem, both of which were gramme claimed to be Singapore’s ‘largest and most geographisuggested as the main rationalisations for the MRT network.2 cally extensive public art project’.7 The programme encourHowever, Wilbur Smith criticised the Harvard team for being im- aged the general public to appreciate art in its inest forms, practical about ‘problems with large numbers of passengers and also contributed to Singapore’s rebranding as a cultural boarding buses in the central area’, conjecturing unrealistic hub and a ‘fun’ city. It is evident that the MRT played a pivotal speeds for bus services. Eventually, the Singapore government ac- role in enhancing Singapore’s cultural capital. cepted the proposal for the MRT network development,3 based on the ability of the rail system to allow Singapore to remain ef icient Lastly, the MRT system also provided a valuable platform for and competitive with good infrastructure.4 The government ratio- the evolution of Singapore’s civil society. The beginning of the nalised that a rail system instead of an all-bus one would further 21st century witnessed the increasing desire of Singaporeans develop the effectiveness of the urban structure and heighten the to make their voices heard in the public arena. The train netappeal of Singapore as a modern international hub.5 The MRT al work provided a vivid example for such a historical precedence lowed Singapore to secure its status as a viable economic hub in in Singapore society. Despite initial plans to open in 2003, the the 1980s, and well into the 1990s. Buangkok MRT station remained unopened as the authorities felt that the station was not pro itable in its operation, due to felt the low number of residents living in the station’s vicinity.9 Numerous petitions and appeals from residents did not achieve a desired outcome, and the result was eight cardboard cartoon of white elephants displayed along a road to greet a minister during his visit.10 The ‘white elephant saga’ remains in our local history as an instance of ‘civil disobedience’.11 The MRT system provided an opportunity for Singaporeans to participate in the civil society, and play a more active role in making their interests and concerns heard by the sovereign state.


Lastly, the MRT system also provided a valuable platform for the evolution of Singapore’s civil society. The beginning of the 21st century witnessed the increasing desire of Singaporeans to make their voices heard in the public arena. The train network provided a vivid example for such a historical precedence in Singapore society. Despite initial plans to open in 2003, the Buangkok MRT station remained unopened as the authorities felt that the station was not pro itable in its operation, due to the low number of residents living in the station’s vicinity. Numerous petitions and appeals from residents did not achieve a desired outcome, and the result was eight cardboard cartoon of white elephants displayed along a road to greet a minister during his visit. The ‘white elephant saga’ remains in our local history as an instance of ‘civil disobedience’. The MRT system provided an opportunity for Singaporeans to participate in the civil society, and play a more active role in making their interests and concerns heard by the sovereign state. Looking into the future, the MRT network will continue to be used as an effective platform by the government to address the needs of the rising civil society in Singapore. It is projected that ‘socially, income disparity and dissenting voices will be more signi icant’. For transport planners at the strategic level, public transportation must be implemented in such a way that employment and services are brought closer to homes through an ef icient transport system. The continued expansion of the current MRT network, which inThe cludes the implementation of the Downtown Line, Thomas-East Coast Line as well as the Cross Island Line, helps to address such a need. Overall, the MRT network has attested to the various changes that have taken place in Singapore’s history. From Singapore’s initial development as an economic hub in the global arena, as well as the subsequent shift towards more focus on arts and culture, to the rise of the civil society in Singapore’s political scene - it is undisputable that the MRT network has played a key role in shaping Singapore’s historical timeline.

Eng Han is a Year 3 History major. He enjoys teaching youths and getting involved in community service. Endnotes 1 Jonathan E. D. Richmond, “Transporting Singapore – The Air-Conditioned Nation,” Transport Reviews 28 (2008): 365, accessed February 5, 2017, doi: 10.1080/01441640701722363. 2 Richmond, “Transporting Singapore,” 365. 3 Bruno Wildermuth, An Assessment of the Hansen Review Team’s Report on ‘Singapore’s Transport & Urban Development Options (Singapore: Wilbur Smith & Associates) in Jonathan E. D. Richmond, “Transporting Singapore – The Air-Conditioned Nation,” Transport Reviews 28 (2008): 366, accessed February 5, 2017, doi: 10.1080/01441640701722363. 4 Ibid, 367. 5 Ibid, 365. 6 Lily Kong, “Ambitions of a Global City: Arts, Culture and Creative Economy in ‘Post-Crisis’ Singapore,” International Journal of Cultural Policy 18 (2012): 279,accessed February 5, 2017, http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/soss_research/1784 7 “Art in Transit,” Singapore Infopedia, accessed February 5, 2017, http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_1582_2009-10-07.ht ml 8 “Art in Transit.” 9 Terence Chong, “Singapore: Globalising on Its Own Terms,” Southeast Asian Affairs (2006): 274, accessed February 5, 2017, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27913314 10 Chong, “Singapore: Globalising on Its Own Terms,” 274. 11 Ibid. 12 Lew Yii Der and Choi Chik Cheong, “Overview of Singapore’s Land Transport Development 1965 – 2015,” in 50 Years of Transportation in Singapore: Achievements and Challenges ed. Fwa Tien Fang (Singapore: World Scienti ic Publishing Co. Pte Ltd, 2016), 40. 13 Lew and Choi, “Overview of Singapore’s Land Transport Development,” 40. Photographic Sources 1. Art in Transit Tours. 2011. Art Outreach Volunteer Portal. http://www.artoutreachsingapore.org/art-in-transit-tours/. 2. BombardierMOVIA C951. 2016. SGTrains. http://www.sgtrains.com/trainc951.html. 3. SG Forums. http://sgforums.com/forums/2080/topics/361702.


i’m feeling SUPERSONIC

Concorde’s Reign as the Queen of the Skies

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re now supersonic, eleven minutes after take-off.” A round of champagne glasses clink. From 1976 to 2003, this was the experience for over 2.5 million passengers who travelled on Concorde. To date, Concorde remains the only successful supersonic commercial aircraft. With its distinct looks and record-breaking speeds, Concorde in its heyday altered our understanding of commercial air travel. Althou Although the supersonic air transport project was pencilled in 1955, Concorde only materialised with the Anglo-French Treaty on November 1962.1 Concorde stood for many things. As an ideal, it symbolised French and British desire to cast aside cesnturies of animosity and strive for a harmonious existence, as re lected by Aérospatiale and the British Aircraft Corporation’s joint venture and in the project’s nomenclature.2 Engineers, ventu designers, and bankrollers from Filton and Toulouse worked together to challenge American technological dominance.3 Supersonic aviation transport was another Cold War front where superpowers – like the United States and the Soviet Union – could display their technological superiority. The Soviet Union had pioneered supersonic transport aircraft with the Tupolev Tu-144, which surpassed Mach 2 in a 1970 light.4 This was more than a year before Concorde’s launch. Not to be outdone by Soviet and Anglo-French efforts, the Americans So attempted, albeit half-heartedly, to develop their own supersonic aircraft: the Boeing 2707 and the Lockheed L-2000.5 The technological front was no longer a duopoly involving the two superpowers. In a period where ‘super’ was the buzzword, Concorde gave European innovation a foothold in the domain of supersonic aviation transport. tr Concorde was also symptomatic of the brewing optimism towards technology after the Second World War.6 14

It embodied multiple engineering innovations in its quest to reach Mach 2. The plane’s ogival delta wings creates an intimidating silhouette while minimising drag.7 It also had to take off and land with an unusually high angle of attack assisted by military-grade afterburners to generate suf icient lift for its massive 180-tonne body.8 Because of that, it required an innovative droop-nose for the pilot’s visibility of the runway.9 visibility of the ru As an unparalleled modern marvel of engineering, Concorde captured the hearts of the public. It was the epitome of travelling in style. The privileged with the means wanted to, and could, ly faster and higher above the rest with Concorde. The aircraft halved the London-New York journey to three hours. Wherever it went, it was greeted with fanfare. In 1972, thousands locked to Paya Lebar to witness Concorde’s irst loc touchdown in Singapore.10 Even as recently as 2002, Concorde had the honour of leading the ceremonial ly-past alongside the famed Red Arrows for Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee.11 Interestingly, Singapore Airlines (SIA) extracted a special concession from British Airways to operate jointly the thrice-weekly London-Singapore Concorde route via Bahrain in 1977.12 Concorde represented Singapore on the international stage when it donned the iconic SIA livery portside. This proud moment made a cameo on Singapore’s twenty-dollar banknote in 1979 (albeit with the livery painted on the wrong side).13 Three lights in, the the route was suspended as Malaysia complained about Concorde’s deafening sonic booms across the Straits of Malacca.14 The service was only reinstated in 1979 after a re-route.

FlyingWet A brief history of flying boats

emily eng | emily.sirui@u.nus.edu

An iconic heritage site I bet we have all seen at least one friend’s #ootd1 shot along the Tanjong Pagar Railway tracks on Instagram. And if you have hipster friends you probably would have seen more than one friend and more than one photo of this iconic railway station.

A representation of strained ties between Singapore and Malaysia Mapping the history of the train station, one can see the gradual evolution in ties between Singapore and Malaysia; from the beginnings in colonial history to the messy marriage and divorce, and more recently, the warming up of ties again. Before the railway station was closed to the public just Be last year, it frequently hosted art exhibitions, carnivals Tracking (pun intended) the past of the Tanjong and fairs, and the seasonal celebrations. In fact, the Pagar Railway4 inal event organised there was the Christmas celebration of 2015. Colonial Rule in 1918: In 1918, the British colonial government handed the And while you might have visited this beautifully pre- ownership of the railway to the Federated Malay States served railway station, you might not know much Railway. about how the railway played a part in our history. But that’s alright- this is what Mnemozine is for. End of WW2 in 1945: This changed after WW2 in 1945, when ownership This changed hands twice, ending up with KTM Berhad. Separation of 1965: This meant that the railway was considered Malaysian Sovereign Territory, even after the Singapore-Malaysia separation in 1965. Points of Agreement Accord of 1990: The railway and complications with customs between The the two countries continued until 1990, where there was some attempt at resolution through the Points of Children playing along the defunct tracks of Tanjong Pagar Railway, taken on December 26, 2016/ photo: Elizabeth Khor Agreement accord, where Malaysia agreed to vacate At the heart of our colonial heritage the railway in exchange for land in Singapore. However, The Keppel Road Railway2, or more commonly known this stalled due to political differences. as the Tanjong Pagar Railway, was irst opened by then Governor of the Straits Settlement, Sir Cecil Clementi on the 2nd of May, 1932. (And yes, he is the eponymous igure of the Clementi neighbourhood) 1

Trains that stopped at the station ferried passengers between Singapore and Malaysia and helped to transport cargo between the two countries as well. As it was conveniently located in front of the Tanjong Pagar docks, cargo could be easily loaded from the ships to the trains3. But do not let the artifact of a train station fool you. At the peak of its past grandeur, the railway used to house a large 34-room hotel with services comparable to the popular Raf les Hotel- frequented by Sultans and British Colonials! 18

The Serbian architect of the Tanjong Pagar Railway station was in luenced by the design of the Helsinki Station in Finland, hence the resemblance in structure between the two. Here is the exterior of Finland’s Helsinki Station/ CNN5

Woodlands Checkpoint in 1998: In 1998, Singapore decided to move their customs In checkpoint to the one in Woodlands, yet Malaysian Customs remained at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. It was an odd situation, as passenge entering Malaysia from Singapore would be cleared for entry by Malaysia, before being cleared for exit by Singapore. Final Agreement in 2010: It was only in 2010 that Singapore and Malaysia inally It agreed to implement the long overdue 1990 accord. Only then did Malaysia move its customs checkpoint to the Woodlands Train Checkpoint, in exchange for land parcels in Marina South and Ophir-Rochor. Final Days and Future Plans The railway was of icially closed and gazetted as a naThe tional monument in 20117. With much fanfare, the last train departed the railway on the 30th of June 2011, ending nearly 80 years of service8. In its inal days, Singapore held retro-themed carnivals and other art events at the railway station, most notably the August 9th National Day carnival in 20159.

The green roof tiles on the top of the station had some Chinese in luence, while the statues in front are meant to represent Agriculture, Commerce, Transport and Industry- all of which are important aspects of the Malayan economy/ Mothership.sg 6

While the goodbyes to the station might seem sad, the public does have much to look forward to when the station reopens. There are plans in place to transform Tanjong Pagar Railway into Cantonment MRT station along the Circle Line by 202511. It will be turned into a small shopping district while having some of its key canopy features kept to “retain the sense of heritage and memories of the old train platform area”, according and to the Urban Redevelopment Authority. If anything, it is heartening to see Singaporeans come together to celebrate and remember Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. It is a place that has transcended many generations of Singaporeans, and hopefully when it reopens again as a brand new MRT station, it will continue to remind future generations about Singapore’s tumultuous journey to become what it is today.

A picture from Tanjong Pagar Railway Station’s inal day, December 26, 2016, where more than 30,000 Singaporeans came to bid the station farewell / thelionraw.wordpress.com

Emily is a Year 2 CNM and Business Student, who is passionate about old things and old places. Endnotes Picture taken from: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/tanjonjpa gar railway-station-to-hold-last-open-houseon/3360786.html 2 Wan, M. H. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 154. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN) 3 Opening of Singapore’s new station. (1932, May 3). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 7; Opening of the new F.M.S.R. terminal station. (1932, May 7). The Malayan Saturday Post, p. 4.Retrieved from NewspaperSG. Wan, M. H. (2009). Heritage places of Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 154. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 WAN) 4 Yong and Yeo (2016) Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, Singapore Infopedia, Retrieved from: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_954_200501-10.html 5 Picture taken from: http://i2.cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/130503170244train-stations-helsinki1-horizontal-large-gallery.jpg 6 Picture taken from: http://mothership.sg/wpcontent/uploads/2016/08/tanjong-pagar-railway-station-exterior.jpg 7 Lim, J. (2011, April 9). Tanjong Pagar Station a national monument. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva. 8Zakir Hussain. (2011, July 1). Tanjong Pagar station handover; end of an era at Tanjong Pagar. The Straits Times. Retrieved from: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/fromthe-straits-times-archives-tanjong-pagar-handover 9 Former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station to hold live NDP screening on Aug 9. (2015, July 30). The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva; Celebrate Singapore’s Golden Jubilee at the iconic Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. (2015, July 30). Singapore Government News. Retrieved from: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/former-tanjongpagar-railway-station-to-hold-live-ndp-screening-on-aug-9 10 Joint news release by Land Transport Authority (LTA), URA & SLA - Train platform canopy structures of former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station to be fully reinstated after completion of new MRT station. (2016, May 27). Singapore Government News. Retrieved from: https://www.ura.gov.sg/uol/mediaroom/news/2016/may/pr16-32.aspx 1



forced migration in the pacific

In this way, displacing Paci ic peoples from their land is akin to painful separation from identity anchors. Every piece of land is embodied with cultural meaning and history.4 When islanders are forced to leave their land as a result of colonialism5, neo-colonial in luences6, or climate threats7 , the bond between them and “the community land” is irreversibly ruptured. 8 These forced evictions are often violent processes that permanently change landscapes and lifestyles, and differ from outward migration. Even if overseas and diasporas cannot return as frequently, or may have developed a new identity blending Paci ic cultures with their new communities, the knowledge that the land and its stories remains safe and can be returned to, is at least a source of comfort. This changes with forced migration. As social media sites lood with iltered vacation photos, we travel for different reasons: family visits, escaping routines, or simply to see the world. Tourism is a pro itable performance where essentialisations of local histories and cultures are traded for microscopic observations of the visitors’ countries, but setting aside these essentialisations and the problems/bene its they bring, my focus for this essay is on a different kind of traveller. I am thinking instead of the people different for whom temporary travel has become permanent, who travel not because they want to but because they have no choice. The Paci ic Islands are popular holiday destinations, often attached to tropical stereotypes of swaying palm trees and grass skirts. However, the peaceful calm evoked by these images is merely a façade for the violence faced daily by the indigenous Paci ic Islanders. As a community, they are often ignored and even forcibly evicted to make way for resorts, golf courses, and military bases. The Oceanians are part of a diverse cultural community with little distinction between one culture and the other. Their identities are built on genealogies and communal histories connecting people and places through “the spatiotemporal language of kinship”, as well as linking present-day descendants to their ancestors of human and divine origins.1 These histories link the Paci ic peoples with each other and the physical geography they inhabit: instead of property, the relationship between humanity and geography is a “mutual possession” where land is itself a part of identity and genealogic history.2 This manifests in language as well as practice. Many Austronesian languages have the same word for land as for placenta, and often plant the placenta into the ground shortly after birth. 3 To these cultures, land is more than just property or even family: land is identity. 20

There are multiple examples of forced migration in the Paci ic, but I will delve further into forced migration due to nuclear testing in the Paci ic. In US-controlled Marshall Islands, the US military carried out nuclear tests (including the detonation of the world’s irst hydrogen bomb) on Bikini Atoll. The Bikinians were evicted to a smaller and resource-less island nearby, misled that the move was temporary.9 Various tests completely vaporised three islands in the atoll, and fallout seriously affected surrounding atolls.10 Little the attention was paid to the after-effects of the tests, however, and the Bikinians were prematurely allowed to return, before being forced out again when the severity of fallout-related health problems became evident.11 Even today, after nuclear testing has stopped, Bikini Atoll remains too irradiated to support prolonged residence, and other parts of the Marshall Islands like Kwajelein Atoll, are still used for American tests and bases.12 The base employs many Marshallese by day, but due to “security risks” forces them out at night into packed settlements in neighbouring islands.13 The stories and histories of the Marshallese landscape has been systematically erased: Marshallese homes and graveyards are re-landscaped into tranquil lawns and imposing military installations.14 Marshallese land, and Paci ic land, have been forc ibly removed from families and destroyed beyond recognition. Litigation, while perhaps mitigating their suffering, cannot replace the land itself. The Marshallese and the Paci ic Islanders are not passive victims, however. Beyond various Marshallese lawsuits for fair compensation from the US government15 , Paci ic resistance takes the form of the Nuclear Free and Independent Paci ic (NFIP) movement (which seeks to establish a nuclear-free Paci ic, and advocates for reclamation of Paci ic sovereignty).16 On a global scale, literature 17 and scholarship18 have been employed in emphasising Paci ic voices above international attempts at writing off the Paci ic Isvoices lands. As location-based aspects of Paci ic identities are being threatened, activism for environmental protection of Paci ic landscapes have become a similarly vital part of their identity.

Land in the Paci ic Islands is intertwined with genealogic histories and identities. Even outside of the Paci ic Islands, where land is de ined in terms of property terms, the histories embedded in land are important. It is one thing (albeit not any better) if a community bulldozes historic land to make way for blandly shiny skyscrapers that proclaim wealth and progress, but for an outsider to barge into someone’s home and tear up their histo ries? The American military governor of the Marshall Islands, when convincing Bikinians to leave, told them that it would be “for the good of mankind and to end all world wars”.19 And so the Paci ic peoples were to be irradiated and Paci ic homes lost to resorts and military bases, for a circular argument that never came true. As we return from sunny Paci ic holidays, the nightmarish “vacation” for many islanders never ends. Jia Yi is a third-year History major who wanted to specialise in Cold War history but kept Stalin’ and missed the application deadline. She collects stories and puns, and seeks to rediscover forgotten histories. She can currently be found wandering the streets of Tokyo in search of interesting stories and photographs, while trying to avoid the inevitability that is getting lost. Image Captions and Sources: Bikinians evacuate Bikini Atoll in March, 1946 (U.S. Navy photo), accessed from the Kili-Bikini-Eji local government website www.bikiniatoll.online A massive column of water rises from the sea as the U.S. detonate an atom bomb at Bikini Atoll in the Paci ic in the irst underwater test of the device, July 25, 1946. (AP Photo), accessed from Alan Taylor, “When We Tested Nuclear Bombs”, The Atlantic (6 May 2011)

Endnotes 1 Margaret Jolly, “Imagining Oceania: Indigenous and Foreign Representations of a Sea of Islands”, The Contemporary Paci ic 19(2), 2007, p. 514. 2 Jolly, p. 515. 3 Among many others, examples of Austronesian languages include Tahitian, Tongan, Kiribatese, Cook Islands Maori, Marshalese, and Fijian (taken from The Paci ic Islands: An Encyclopedia, Vol. I (Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 2000), ed. Brij V. Lal and Kate Fortune, p. 67 4 Ximena Flores-Palacios, “Samoa: local knowledge, climate change and population movements”, Forced Migration Review 49, May 2015, p.60.5 5 America’s 1898 forced annexation of Hawai’i is bitterly resisted to this day: the largest sovereignty movement is Ka Lahui Hawai’i, which produced a Master Plan in 1994 as a comprehensive strategy for eventual Hawai’ian independence. (Taken from Haunani-Kay Trask, From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai’i, (Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 1993), p. 74) 6 Of icial negotiations with the U.S. government is handled by the Of ice of Hawai’ian Affairs, which is run predominantly by descendants of white immigrants to Hawai’i, and functions as a state agency, meaning that any land or money returned to Hawai’i would be funnelled into state coffers rather than back to the people (taken from Trask, Native Daughter, p. 69-74) 7 Islands in Papua New Guinea and Tuvalu, among other Paci ic islands, are being swallowed by rising sea levels. 8 Ibid. 9 Katelyn Homeyer and Saleem Ali, “Bikini Atoll: Living with a Nuclear Legacy and Mediating Con lict with the United States”, Working Paper (2006), p. 6 10 Ibid., p. 8 11 Ibid., p. 15 12 Ibid., p. 11 13 Lauren Hirshberg, “Nuclear Families: (Re)producing 1950s Suburban America in the Marshall Islands”, OAH Magazine of History 26(4), 2012, p. 41 14 Greg Dvorak, ““The Martial Islands”: Making Marshallese Masculinities between American and Japanese Militarism”, The Contemporary Paci ic 20(1), 2008, p. 79 15 The US government has set up funds for affected Bikini residents, as well as the Compact of Free Association that bene its the Marshallese economy by allowing freer low of people, but these funds have not been fully honoured, and often remain at the state level instead of reaching the affected residents. 16 Teresia K. Teaiwa, “bikinis and other s/paci ic n/oceans”, The Contemporary Paci ic 6(1), 1994, p. 100 17 Marshallese poet and activist Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner writes and performs poetry about the Marshall Islands as well as climate change in the Paci ic. (for instance, watch her speech and poem at the 2014 United Nations Climate Summit) 18 Prominent scholars like Haunani-Kay Trask and Teresia K. Teaiwa produce academic works that examine the effects of colonialism and militarism on the Paci ic Islands. 19 Jack Niedenthal, For the Good of Mankind: A History of the People of Bikini and Their Islands (Bravo Publishers, 2001), p. 2


Choo Ruizhi | choo.ruizhi@gmail.com

It is suddenly very hot. And although the thirteen or so hours she has spent in a dimly-lit cargo hold, lying across the sky have not been uncomfortable; could never compare to a desperate Passage across the Atlantic, she knows that she is no longer in Kansas, nor Cologne, nor Frankfurt anymore. There is a damp, heavy quality to the air, and already the smells of this new place are percolating through the dank odours of jet fuel and humanity. odours of But it is suddenly very hot. The skies over Changi Airport are bleeding slowly into twilight. It has been a fair April day, and now the evening cool is beginning to settle over the increasingly ‘green’ city of Singapore. April will be the hottest month of 1978, with an average daily temperature of 32 degrees Celsius. On the 14th of April 1978, the skies are nearly cloudless1. Why did a bear travel ten thousand kilometres? Sometimes, personal choice does not enter the equaSometimes, tion. The decision to move was one already determined by her captors, in the name of abstract concepts like “education”, “national pride”, or perhaps “wildlife conservation” later on. A Bear Travels Born in the Cologne Zoo in Germany, Sheba the polar bear was purchased from an animal dealer at a cost of $7,500, when she was slightly more than a year old2. Landing on a balmy Friday evening on the 14th of April 1978, Sheba was immediately transported to the Singapore Zoo. She was thereafter housed in a speciallyconstructed, air-conditioned enclosure that cost over $460,000 to build and landscape. After travelling halfway across the world from her birthplace, her address remained ixed for thirty- ive years, at 80 Mandai Road 729826. Sheba was the longest-lived polar bear in the Singapore Zoo. A male polar bear which had made the initial journey with her died within twelve hours of its arrival. Its replacement, a nine-month old male cub, was presented as a gift from the Canadian government in August 1978. The zoo named the cub Nanook, who later become Sheba’s mate. The press breathlessly described the pairing as “love at irst sight”, even though polar bears only come into sexual maturity at ive years of age3. A year later, another female polar bear, Anana, which had been caught in the wild, was delivered to the Zoo. 22

Sheba would go on to outlive both Nanook and Annana. Moreover, she would give birth to yet another icon of the Singapore Zoo: Inuka, the irst polar bear born in the tropics. A Bear is Born On 26 December 1990, Sheba gave birth to a 500g cub. On The birth came as a surprise to zookeepers themselves, who had not observed anything unusual with the bear the day before. Sheba had last been seen swimming nonchalantly in the enclosure’s pool4. After a nationwide naming competition that garnered over 10,000 entries, the cub was named Inuka, after the Inuit term for ‘silent stalker’5. The Zoo would brandish this birth as proof that the bears were living in good conditions6. However, as Louis Ng, president of the local Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) would point out incisively nearly a decade later, breeding was an exceedingly simplistic indicator of living conditions, since animals can breed even in the “most appalling conditions”7. Nanook, Inuka’s father, died on 29 December 1995 from a chronic heart and lung disease8. Anana would die in 1999, twenty years after irst arriving at the Zoo. The average lifespan of a polar bear is 25, although Sheba lived to the age 35, which is the maximum estimate for polar bears living in captivity9. A Bear turns Green In the inal years before her death, Sheba and Inuka were the two remaining polar bears at the Singapore Zoo. In 2004, the Zoo decided to not import any animals from the Arctic anymore10.

Inuka (left) and Sheba (right) at the Singapore Zoological Gardens. Picture taken from The Straits Times.

Perhaps because there was simply very little space to be apart, mother and son remained very close to each other. Inuka was observed to be suckling from his mother occasionally, even though he was a sexually mature adult by polar bear terms11. Adding to the bears’ disquieting condition, the animals turned a startling shade of green in 2004 from algal growth on their fur, a condition caused by the bright sunlit environment of their enclosure and pool contamination from fallen leaves12. Sidestepping the deeper, ethical issue of whether tropical zoos should even display polar bears, the Zoo asserted that the algal growth “does not affect the bear’s health in any way”. Vadivu Govind, the president of AnimalWatch, noted the Zoo’s evasion in his Forum letter. Citing zoo experts, technical advisors, and a thirty-minute videotape of Inuka displaying repetitive stereotypical behaviour, Govind expressed concern for Inuka’s mental health and the enclosure’s inadequate facilities. No record of the Zoo’s reply to Govind has been found13. Later in 2006, an ACRES report was published after an intensive, fourmonth undercover study and raised serious concerns about the bears’ well-being. The report stated that the bears were suffering serious heat stress, and displaying “abnormal stereotypic behaviour”14. In response to intense media scrutiny, the Zoo emphasised that it had halted the import of Arctic animals, a decision it had already made in 200415. This decision was part of the Zoo’s transition towards displaying tropical rainforest animals in order to leverage on Singapore’s tropical location and utilise limited resources. However, the initial decision to send Inuka to a more temperate zoo after Sheba died was reversed16. Instead, in August 2010, the Zoo announced that it would be building a new enclosure for the zoo. Today, the euphemistically named “Frozen Tundra” exhibit features “a cool temperature, an ice cave with a waterfall, and a large pool illed with giant ice blocks”, built solely to exhibit the last surviving polar bear of Singapore17. Imagine living your whole life in a climate-controlled bubble.

Inuka Covered in Algeae Picture taken from ACRES

A Bear Remains Sheba irst arrived in Singapore in April 1978. In the inSheba tervening thirty- ive years, she experienced the death of her mate, and the birth of her son. She died on 15 November 2012, leaving behind a 21-year old descendant. Like many of Singapore’s citizens and residents; like much of its physical, cultural, natural and linguistic landscapes, she came from a faraway land, and was sub sequently made to stay. Man’s overwhelming control and containment of nature to suit his own purposes has made resistance and escape dif icult, if not futile. At the Singapore Zoological Gardens, we witness nature condensed: shaped and manicured to meet the avowed needs of the nation. In Sheba’s story we discern the echoes of other great Singaporean women of the past, who also crossed oceans by force and by choice, to live in uncertain new worlds. Why does a bear travel? Sometimes asking why a bear remained is just as disquieting.

Ruizhi is a Year 4 history major who enjoys trekking mountains, being in nature, and escaping into other universes. He recently discovered that you can also do all of this (and more) in the ield of environmental history, and is quite happy about it. He is currently fascinated by the rain tree (Albizia saman), a Central American plant which was brought to Singapore by colonial planters, acquired a local name, and became the most planted tree in Singapore today.

Endnotes. "WeatherSpark Beta." Historical Weather For 1978 in Singapore - WeatherSpark. Accessed February 02, 2017. https://weatherspark.com/history/34047/1978/Singapore. 2” Lonesome time for this bear without her mate’, The Straits Times [henceforth, ST], 16 April 1978 3 ‘It’s love at irst sight for these two polar bears’, ST, 19 November 1978 4 Ilsa Sharp, The First 21 years: The Singapore Zoological Gardens story, (Singapore: Singapore Zoological Gardens, 1994), p.143. 5 ‘Inuka wins the game of the name’, ST, 16 Jun 1991 6 Sharp, 21 Years, p.98. 7 ‘Breeding is no indicator’, TODAY, 9 Sep 2006 8 ‘Nanook, the polar bear, dies’, ST, 3 Jan 1996.;‘Parting will be such sweet sorrow’, ST, 31 Dec 2006 9 ‘Inuka turns sweet 16’, ST, 27 Dec 2006 10 ‘Zoo’s Polar Bears in Distress’, ST, 7 Sep 2006. 11 ‘Parting will be such sweet sorrow’, ST, 31 Dec 2006 12 Seeing red over green bear’, The New Paper, 4 March 2004 13 Phillip T Robinson., and Ralph A. Lewin, “The greening of polar bears in zoos”, Nature 278, 5703 (1979), pp.445-7; ‘Green and bear it, Inuka’, The New Paper, 24 February 2004.; Seeing red over green bear’, The New Paper, 4 March 2004. 14 Corrigan, Amy, and Louis Ng. "What's a Polar Bear Doing in the Tropics?." 2005. 15No more animals from the Arctic’, TODAY, 7 Sep 2006. 16 ‘Inuka the polar bear to stay on in sunny S’pore’, ST, 3 May 2007 17 http://www.zoo.com.sg/exhibits-zones/frozen-tundra.html, accessed 2 Feb 2017 1


The Vietnamese Boat People: The Journey to Singapore Chang Wing Cheng, Calvin | e0026892@u.nus.edu

For many Vietnamese, the end of the Vietnam War was not a joyous occasion. Shortly after the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnam forces, the new government under the Vietcong persecuted1 those affiliated with the Americans.2 Their families were blacklisted from society, which compounded their difficulties in obtaining education or employment.3 Many of these affected Vietnamese chose to flee Vietnam in pursuit of better prospects. Singapore was one of many countries that these Vietnamese refugees would end up in as a temporarily holding point. The first wave of refugees that fled Vietnam arrived in April 1975. As the communist government had outlawed fleeing the country, these refugees escaped illegally on boats. These boats were packed to the brim with refugees,4 and gave rise to the nickname “boat people”. The journey was dangerous, as Vietnamese patrol boats would open fire at refugees. Once past Vietnamese waters, they were often prey to pirates in the South China Sea. A shocking 349 out of 452 boats that made the journey were attacked by pirates three times on average in 1981 alone.5

The boat people proved to be a security challenge for Singapore, as armed South Vietnamese marines who were fleeing the Vietcong were mixed in the initial waves of refugees.6 The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) was quickly mobilized to search the first Vietnamese SOS signal from the ship Truong Hai in Singapore waters on the 2nd of May.7 Singapore could not harbour any refugees due to her limited land space, and could only serve as an intermediary for the refugees before they were moved to other countries for asylum.8 As such, refugees were taken in to the Hawkins Road camp in Sembawang, while others were turned back to sea. The Hawkins Road camp was Singapore’s first and only refugee camp. While small in size, it housed notable individuals, such as the former South Vietnamese Prime Minister, Nguyen Van Loc,9 who used his time in Singapore to plot a resistance campaign against the communists ruling Vietnam10. It also became a centre of unlikely cultural exchanges between refugees and locals.


While Hawkins Road no longer exists today, its memory still lives on amongst the grateful refugees that it served. These resettled people remembered their home away from home here today through blogs and social media.18 Calvin is a Year 1 History major who loves good food. When not flooded with readings, he’s usually looking for new restaurants in town.

As the Vietnamese refugees often converted all their assets into gold to pay for the journey, a black market for gold quickly formed at Hawkins Road when the refugees began selling their excess gold at prices below local market rates.11 The refugees also created Nhan Chung,12 a magazine detailing the horrific tales of the refugees and their journey. Nhan Chung was sold for 3 Singapore dollars each to raise funds to improve the facilities at Hawkins Road.13 Hawkins Road quickly found itself overcrowded, with a population peaking at 2,360 in April 1980.14 This was despite Singapore’s original stance of only allowing a maximum of 1,000 refugees at any point of time.15 This issue was only resolved in 1979, when the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) came to agreements with Vietnam. Vietnam would make efforts to stop illegal departures from Vietnam in exchange for the swift relocation of these refugees to Western countries.16 Hence, refugees from Hawkins Road eventually resettled to various countries like Japan, Germany and the US, until the camp closed in 1996. Despite only housing 4.5% of the overall Vietnamese refugees, Hawkins Road became a site of cultural exchange, with the Vietnamese refugees being able to partake in local social activities such as movies and shopping using the $2.50 daily stipend from the UNHRC.17

Endnotes 1 Forms of persecution included forced labour and imprisonment 2Vo, Nghia M., The Vietnamese Boat People, 1954 and 1975 – 1992 (McFarland, 2006), p 83 3Li, Xiaobing, Voices from the Vietnam War: Stories from American, Asian, and Russian Veterans (University Press of Kentucky, 2010), p 210 - 211 4Ibid, p 211 5United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, The State of the World’s Refugees (Switzerland: United Nations 2000), p 87, assessed from http://www.unhcr.org/3ebf9bad0.pdf 6John Koh and Yeo Wai Cheong, Operation Thunderstorm, The Straits Times, 12th June 1975, p 12 7John Koh and Yeo Wai Cheong, Operation Thunderstorm, The Straits Times, 12th June 1975, p 12 8Kuan Yew, Lee, Press Conference held in Kingston, Jamaica, at the end of the Commonwealth Conference, May 1975 9Former Saigon PM here as refugee, The Straits Times, 24th May 1983, p 8 10Former Viet PM vows to fight Reds, The Straits Times, 26th May 1983, p 12 11Visitors who come to buy “cheap” gold, The Straits Times, 20th December 1979, p 3 12Witness in Vietnamese 13Boat people’s horror mag, New Nation, 6th December 1979, p 4 14Indran, J. D., Biggest refugee arrival in Singapore in May, 18th June 1980, p 2 15Problems of housing them, The Straits Times, 15 th December 1979, p 20 16Judith Kumin, Orderly Departure from Vietnam: Cold War Anomaly or Humanitarian Innovation?, in Refugee Survey Quarterly, vol 27 no. 1, UNHCR, 2008, p 111 - 116 17Sin, Yuen, Camp a place of fond memories, The Straits Times, 4th September 2016 18Le, Sonny. 2012. "My Long Road To America". Blog. Life In Communte. http://25hawkinsroad.blogspot.sg/2010/11/escape -from-viet-nam-my-life-in-america.html.


T he T ourist R omanticisation of the S cottish G àidhealtachd in the Late 18th Century Chi-Yan Law | a0125655@u.nus.edu

The Gàidhealtachd (a term referring to the Gaelicspeaking region of Scotland, pronounced /gɛː.əLdəxg/), an area loosely equivalent to the Highlands, that is, the northwestern section of the Scottish mainland, as well as the Inner and Outer Hebrides, has long been worldrenowned as one of the most popular and romantic tourist destinations on account of its natural scenery and semi-mythic history. However, this reputation did not always exist. How and why, then, did the Gàidhealtachd emerge as a tourist destination? To non-Gaels living before the 18th century, the Gàidhealtachd embodied lawlessness where few dared to venture. This reputation was both the consequence and the cause of a paucity of accurate information about the Gàidhealtachd and its inhabitants. Where truth was lacking, stereotypes served to fill the gap. The few written sources that mentioned the Highlands often emphasised the savagery of its inhabitants.1 The persistence of these stereotypes ensured that most travellers to Scotland stayed clear of the Gàidhealtachd well into the early 18th century, perpetuating the scarcity of reliable information.2 Even those who ventured into the Gàidhealtachd were often critical of the repulsiveness of its terrain.3 However, the three Jacobite uprisings in the late 17th and early 18th centuries made Britain newly aware of the Gàidhealtachd.4 The impact of these uprisings, combined with intellectual and aesthetic trends, improvements in transport infrastructure and the increased availability of information about the area throughout the 18th century would converge to fundamentally alter these negative perceptions.


After the Jacobite defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 during the last Jacobite uprising (The ’Forty-Five) and the state-enforced dismantling of clan society that followed, the Gàidhealtachd was no longer perceived to be a military or a political threat to the Crown. At the same time, the upper classes in Britain were also being influenced by the ideas of progressive human civilisation promoted by thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment such as John Millar and Adam Smith. The Gàidhealtachd began to be seen as a place to observe human society at a more primitive stage.5 This interest coincided with the international popularity of James MacPherson’s epic poem cycle Ossian, the first fragments of which were published in 1760. The poems, later discovered to be substantially fraudulent, were set in the Gàidhealtachd and evoked the noble virtues of a society deep in the Gaelic past and appealed to those who ascribed these virtues to ‘primitive’ people. Dorothy Wordsworth’s travel account, for instance, describes the sight of a Gaelicspeaking boy in the mists with characteristically Ossianic traits, choosing to read the scene as an example of the Highlander’s “melancholy, his simplicity, his poverty, his superstition, and above all, that visionariness which results from a communion with the unworldliness of nature.”6 The Ossian phenomenon helped to consolidate the Romantic notion of the Gael as ‘noble savage’, possessing virtues which had disappeared in the modern world. 7

Contemporary Romantic aesthetic trends also made the Gàidhealtachd desirable to travellers. The dramatic and yet formerly repellent bens and glens of the Gàidhealtachd now posssessed the qualities of the sublime, as set forth by philosopher Edmund Burke in 1757, where humans were confronted with the horrible, untamed power of Nature and were thereby humbled.8 The Highland landscape also provided travellers with eye-pleasing and painting-like scenes that would satisfy the formal characteristic of the picturesque as promulgated by William Gilpin in 1782.9 John Leyden’s travel account to this region, for instance, contained numerous descriptions of sublime or picturesque landscape features that frequently prompted moral and emotional reflections in their beholder.10 As the 18th century progressed into the 19th, the number of travel guides and accounts published about Scotland and the Gàidhealtachd steadily increased, demonstrating the rising popularity of travel to these areas.11 Travel accounts by writers such as Thomas Pennant and Samuel Johnson finally gave reading publics in Britain and further afield reasonably reliable first-hand sources of information on which to base their own tours.12 The political instability on the Continent at the turn of the 18th century also diverted the attention of tourists in Britain towards tours in Scotland.13 These tourists came mainly from the upper classes of British society; above all, they had the time and the finances to pursue their interests as tourists,14 rather than as mere travellers on professional assignments. However, the Gàidhealtachd’s increased appeal to tourists was equally dependent on the presence of improved transport infrastructure. Whereas the Gàidhealtachd had hitherto been relatively difficult to access, improved and extended military road networks, constructed by George Wade and William Caulfield in the wake of the 1715 and 1745 Jacobite Uprisings respectively, gave tourists a greater choice of routes and stops on their journeys.15 These roads were purposed for the movement of Government troops garrisoned in the Gàidhealtachd for its ‘pacification’.

Although many remoter districts remained impassable to horses,16 the roads up to Inverness and Fort William were well-developed enough to support the running of coaches.17 Thus, by the beginning of the 19th century, the material and ideological conditions were in place for mass tourism to develop in earnest.18 The Gàidhealtachd, steadily opened to the knowledge of outsiders and rehabilitated, had become a romanticised theatre in which those with means could safely gaze upon a people and a landscape that seemed to be timeless. Even as the Gàidhealtachd underwent very real changes in the following centries as the result of clearance, war and emigration, this romanticised mode of imagining the Gàidhealtachd has remained, for better or for worse, dominant till today. Chi-Yan is a third-year undergraduate reading European Studies and is currently on exchange at the University of Glasgow. He is primarily interested in the history and literature of Gaelic Scotland but is also trying to get to grips with the study of Eastern and Central Europe. He tries his best to be a good traditional musician on the pipes and whistle. Endnotes 1Martin Rackwitz, Travels to Terra Incognita: The Scottish Highlands and Hebrides in Early Modern Travellers' Accounts c. 1600 to 1800 (Münster: Waxmann, 2007), 52-3. 2Ibid., 232. 3Ibid., 209. 4T. M. Devine, The Scottish Nation: 1700-2000 (London: Penguin, 1999), 246. 5Ibid., 241. 6Dorothy Wordsworth, Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland, A.D. 1803, 3rd ed. (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1894), 116. 7Ibid., 242. 8Katherine Haldane Grenier, Tourism and Identity in Scotland, 17701914: Creating Caledonia (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005), 102. 9Devine, 242. 10John Leyden, Journal of a Tour in the Highlands and Western Islands of Scotland in 1800, ed. James Sinton (Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1903), 135-7. 11Alastair J. Durie, Scotland for the Holidays: A History of Tourism in Scotland 1780-1939 (East Linton: Tuckwell, 2003), 21. 12Rackwitz, 131. 13Devine, 246. 14Durie, 37. 15Rackwitz, 221. 16Denis Rixson, The Hebridean Traveller (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2004), 308. 17Rackwitz, 171. 18Grenier, 49.


A Tryst with Destiny, Seventy Years Since: Partition, Migration, and its Legacies Glenn Ong | glennokh@u.nus.edu

Khawaja Muhammad Zakariya was just a young boy in 1947 when his father had rushed home one day and instructed the family to pack their valuables, thereupon they were to leave Amritsar immediately. They boarded a packed train to Lahore, in what is now Pakistan, and never returned.1 For him and more than 10 million others displaced by what was later termed the partition of India,2 common and intuitive notions of travel can hardly account for their lived experiences: The partition was to result in the largest mass migration of the 20th century.3 A broader, more expansive conception of travel would better aid our understanding of the reasons behind the migration. Ultimately, this will facilitate a deeper appreciation of how movement and displacement shape the human condition. While with hindsight we know that partition produced physical and psychological scars that left an indelible mark for generations, it was not necessarily evident then that the displacement would be permanent. Granted, it may be tempting to assume that people then believed in and agreed on similar notions of Indian or Pakistani nationhood. After all, appeals to nationalistic fervour were rife in the speech now famously known as “Tryst with Destiny”, delivered by Jawaharlal Nehru on the eve of India’s independence. Speaking of the “soul of a nation, long suppressed” – but who now “discovers herself again” – Nehru cheered the revival of the “unending quest” of progress, which (curiously) commenced at the “dawn of history”.4


And people did buy into such notions of national identity, which often carried religious undertones: Believing they were journeying to a promised land, many regarded their place in the new society – whether in ‘Muslim’ Pakistan or ‘non-Muslim’ India – as an inherent right.5 However, when romantic visions of their imagined utopia failed to materialise, or when they found themselves shut out of it, many eventually made the return journey ‘home’. One is struck by how such elites actively constructed ideas of nationhood and citizenship by projecting the nation-state “backwards in time” to legitimise modern notions of sovereignty.6 We should, however, be cautious about imposing the machinations of high politics onto the intentions of everyday people. Indeed, some families, recounted a Muslim refugee named Anwara, “left their babies behind along with their possessions thinking they would go back for them later”.7 Others moved assuming they were simply seeking temporary refuge from the violence.8 This suggests that many who uprooted themselves did not possess a coherent plan or vision, but were motivated to make the perilous journey across borders only because they foresaw an eventual return. Such narratives highlight the complex and contrasting motivations that informed decisions to move. Yet as many, if not more people were, or felt, forced to migrate. Perhaps an analysis of ‘motivations’ would be a misnomer in such cases, as many lacked the luxury of choice, and found themselves at the mercy of high politics. For them, this tryst with destiny left a bitter taste in their mouths.

In administering the partition, Sir Cyril Radcliffe’s demarcation of the Indo-Pakistani border – now characterised as arbitrary and executed with “audacious haste”9 – often left many in Bengal and Punjab (where the lines were drawn) with a difficult choice: Risk their lives by remaining on their properties, or travel to the country whose purported religion they identified with.

Finally, their resonance is highlighted by the continuing ramifications of partition even in the present,13 and in the existence of similar conflicts around the world over territorial sovereignty and imagined nationhood.14 Indeed, the effects of partition are not confined to August 1947, but continue to linger on for and play out over many decades. In his renowned speech, Nehru proclaimed – perhaps ominously – that “…the past is over and it is the future that beckons to us now”.15 Yet for many in South Asia, though the physical journey has concluded, it will be long before the past is truly over for them. Glenn is a third year History major on exchange in England. He is grateful to Dr. Oliver Godsmark of the University of Sheffield for directing him to the relevant sources.

Yet religion did not always figure prominently in the Boundary Commissions’ deliberations. An example is the allocation of the “hotly disputed” Chittagong Hill Tracts to East Bengal (in what became East Pakistan) rather than West Bengal (in what became India). In a meeting with Lord Louis Mountbatten, then Governor-General of India, Nehru protested that on “religious and cultural grounds the Chittagong Hill Tracts should form part of India”, for the population was “97% Buddhist and Hindu”.10 However, Mountbatten “emphasised particularly the economic ties which bound Chittagong District and the Hill Tracts together”, refuting the conventional characterisation of partition as motivated purely by religious differences. The allocation of the Tracts to Pakistan resulted in the exodus of thousands from East Bengal into India in the following decades.11 The yawning gap between high politics and life on the ground thus conditioned the travels of many people to be filled with fear, uncertainty, and helplessness. Even as this year marks the 70th anniversary of India’s partition, these stories of migration – varied, complex, and often elusive – remain relevant for at least three reasons. Firstly, they are significant because the hand of time is far from neutral: It stifles memory and recollection, making the process of penning such a history an even more slippery undertaking. A feeble grasp of these narratives potentially leaves attempts to selectively reframe or discard these memories undetected.12 Secondly, a careful study of these stories suggests that the migration and trauma surrounding partition were not inevitable.

Endnotes 1“Murder, rape and shattered families: 1947 Partition Archive effort underway,” DAWN, March 13, 2015, accessed February 27, 2017, https://www.dawn.com/news/1169309. 2Other estimates suggest the figure may be as high as 15 million. 3Some suggest it was the largest in human history. See Crispin Bates, “British History in depth: The Hidden Story of Partition and its Legacies,” British Broadcasting Corporation, last updated March 3, 2011, accessed February 27, 2017, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/modern/partition1947_01. shtml. 4“Tryst with Destiny,” speech by Jawaharlal Nehru, Constituent Assembly of India, August 14, 1947, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, http://nehrumemorial.nic.in/en/giftgallery.html?id=214&tmpl=component. 5Joya Chatterji, “The Fashioning of a Frontier: The Radcliffe Line and Bengal's Border Landscape, 1947-52,” Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 33, No. 1 (1999): 219. 6Prasenjit Duara, “The Regime of Authenticity: Timelessness, Gender, and National History in Modern China,” History and Theory, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Oct 1998): 288. 7“Anwara: My journey,” Bangla Stories, accessed February 27, 2017, http://www.banglastories.org/anwara/my-journey-8.html. 8Chatterji, “The Fashioning of a Frontier,” 237. 9Ibid, 224. 10“Minutes of a meeting between Rear-Admiral Viscount Mountbatten of Burma and Representatives of India and Pakistan, 16 August 1947” in The Transfer of Power, 1942-7, Vol. XII ed. Nicholas Mansergh et al. (London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1983). 11Bushra Hasina Chowdhury, “Building Lasting Peace: Issues of the Implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord,” ACDIS Occasional Paper, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, https://web.archive.org/web/20060901145334/http://www.acd is.uiuc.edu/Research/OPs/Chowdhury/contents/part2.html. 12See “Prime Minister announces 2017 UK-India Year of Culture,” Prime Minister’s Office, November 12, 2015, accessed February 27, 2017, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/prime-ministerannounces-2017-uk-india-year-of-culture. Conversely, see “The Partition History Project: reflecting on the events of August 1947 in twenty-first century Britain,” accessed February 27, 2017, The Historical Association, https://www.history.org.uk/files/download/18532/1486478254. 13“Kashmir conflict: Tension on the India Pakistan border,” BBC News, October 1, 2016, accessed February 27, 2017, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-37531900. 14Jasmin Habib, “Both Sides Now: Reflections on the Israel/Palestine Conflict,” Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 4 (Nov., 2007): 1098-1118. 15The partition was officially announced two days after the speech was made. 29

Migration Trends of Singapore and France

By the turn of the 20th century, the sampan panjang had disappeared from Singapore’s shores. Many Orang Laut abandoned their houseboats to form stilt-house kampongs along the coast. 10 New wharves and docks that opened in Tanjong Pagar and Keppel Harbour, and the opening of the Suez Canal in the 1860s and 1870s, reduced the sampan panjang to a racing vessel. After 1885, the kolek, a smaller, swifter type of sampan, had completely displaced the racing sampan panjang. 11 Despite this, sampans remained in use through the irst half of the 1900s. Former residents of Singapore’s coastal communities, who lived in places like Pasir Panjang, Bedok, and the Southern Islands, fondly recall the use of locally-built sampans for many things.12 The multidisciplinary artist Zai Kuning said his family would frequently sail their locallybuilt sampans from their kampong in Pasir Panjang to the Southern Islands and even to Riau. There, they would ish or pay visits to the other communities that lived near the sea.13 Kolek races were also a common affair outside of the annual New Year Regatta held off Collyer Quay. Kolek sailors – usually 12 of them in a 10-metre vessel – would sail their boat by leaning off its edge, hanging onto a single line tied to the mainmast to stabilise a disproportionately huge sail.14 While simplistic in appearance, this tricky maneuver required immense dexterity and coordination from the crew. New developments in the 1960s negatively impacted Singapore’s traditional sampans. Where sampans from Malaya and Riau were a common sight in Singapore’s harbor during colonial times, a newly-independent Singapore sought to impose control on its maritime boundaries. Land reclamations, and the resettlement of island and coastal communities to the mainland saw sampan numbers decline.15 Kolek races became more infrequent after 1965, and vanished altogether in the 1980s; modern sailboats and canoes now take their place in regattas held in Singapore. Today, the sampan lives on in a more updated form. Instead of sails, outboard motors propel sampans through the seas between mainland Singapore, its offshore islands, and the handful of kelongs - offshore ish farms - that remain. The only reminders of their past form come from old photos and ilms of Singapore’s coastline. In recent times, artists like Zai Kuning, Charles Lim and Dennis Tan have drawn inspiration from the thriving kolek races in the Riau Islands for their from ilms and installations. Also, Mazlan Mohd Nasir, a former resident of the Southern Islands, is seeking to revive kolek racing in Singapore. In a sense, these efforts and the modern-day sampan recall memories of a bygone time, while Singapore forges a new link to the sea in a region renowned for its maritime links. Joshua is third-year History major who dabbles in military and naval history. When he is not writing and editing articles for Mnemozine, he can be found in museums, cafes, or spending time with (scale) models. *Postscript: “There Are Too Many People Coming Here” at NUS Museum’s NX1 gallery runs until July 1st, 2017.

Endnotes 1 G. R. G. Worchester, Craft of the Estuary and Shanghai Area (The junks and sampans of the Upper Yangtze. Vol. 1). (Shanghai: Maritime Customs, 1947), 505. 三板 (sān bǎn) is of Cantonese origin; literally ‘three planks’ 2 Ibid. 舢舨 (shān bǎn) is an alternative to the above term. 3 Jacques de Coutre, The Memoirs and Memorials of Jacques de Coutre: Security, Trade and Society in 16th- and 17th-century Southeast Asia. Edited, introduced and annotated by Peter Borschberg; translated by Roopanjali Roy. (Singapore: NUS Press, 2015). 77. 4 Ibid. 5 Leonard Andaya. The Kingdom of Johor, 1641 – 1728 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975). 44. 6 Ibid. 7 Carl Gibson-Hill, “The Orang Laut of Singapore River and the Sampan Panjang” in Boats, Boat Building and Fishing in Malaysia, ed. H. S. Barlow (Kuala Lumpur: MBRAS, 2009), 163. 8 Gibson-Hill, “The Orang Laut”. 164 9 Gibson-Hill, “The Orang Laut”. 164 – 166. 10 Gibson-Hill, “The Orang Laut”. 166. 11 Gibson-Hill, “The Orang Laut”. 167. 12 Mayo Martin & Lam Shushan, “An island-boy’s race against time and tide”. Today, November 26th 2016, accessed March 9th 2017. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/an-islandboy-s-race-against-time-and-tide/3320054.html. Here, Mazlan Mohd Nasir, a former resident of the Southern Islands, describes his childhood life there and kolek races held off Pasir Panjang. 13 Bala Starr. “I am Bugis: Interview with Zai Kuning.” Garland Magazine 3 (2016), accessed March 9th 2017. http://garlandmag.com/article/i-am-bugis-an-interview-withzai-kuning/ 14 H. Warington Smyth, Mast and Sail in Europe and Asia, (New York, E.P. Dutton and Co., 1906). 355. 15 Lien Sien Chia, et al., The Coastal Enviroment Pro ile of Singapore. 82. 16 Martin & Lam, “An island-boy’s race against time and tide”. 33

Marco Polo: The Wanderluster


land transport system in the Roman Empire Min Lim | min.lim@u.yale-nus.edu.sg

The state’s prudent and strategic construction of roads was essential to the success of the road network system. Instead of going around the Alps, the Romans were able to directly transverse through the Alps quickly on these high quality roads. Transport companies emerged and communication channels opened – a faster transmission of news from around the Empire was now a reality, and more contracts between the army and private individuals to “transport large volumes of goods through the Alpine passes” emerged, boosting trade and pro it. Moreover, the sprawling road system was fundamental in developing rural areas as new towns emerged from the intersections of new roads, promoting urGaius Albius Celsus is a mere ictional character, but his experi- banism and expanding the Empire’s reach.xii ences and interactions with the Roman transport system is one relective of the period’s success. 2,000 years later, Roman road transport devices were still seen as impressive – increased weight tolerance, ball-bearings for wagons and carts – and made travel more ef icient. iii Without accounting for the backbone of the Roman transport system, we would be discounting a signi icant reason for Roman transport ef iciency, and by extension, its impacts on Roman Empire’s socioeconomic conditions. iv Gaius Albius Celsus, a merchant of Naples, rested on a wooden bench in his plaustrum – a large carriage towed by oxen to ferry goods to Rome.i His amphorae, illed with wine, rattled as the ironclod wheels inched along the limestone-paved road, while oxens strapped to the carriage hemmed and hawed. He kept a steady pace, only stopping alongside the road for a quick gulp of water from the wells, or to rest at the roadside mansiones. The 250kilometres journey, ferrying about 500kg of wine, would take him two days.ii This was 2,000 years ago.

Make-up of a Roman Roadviii

Roman roads sprawled across the ancient Mediterranean, covering over 100,000 kilometres of land.v Roads often spanned the width of two carriages. They were paved with either limestone (for decoration nearer to the city centre), or clay (for practicality on high-traf ic roads).vi Both resulted in smooth surfaces for travel at a speedier rate, increasing trade and communication lows. These roads were also built to last. Roads, such as from Arles to Aix, Saintes to Poiters, are even utilized today. The Path of the Devil, or Saintes Chermin du Diable, as the French would call them – because how can roads last for so long, if not built by the devils themselves?vii It was because of the sprawling road system that regions of the Empire – from North Africa to the Middle East – could utilise limestone for construction. Such material was solely found in Southern and Central Italy, and transporting them without these roads .ix It was a far cry from the roads of the Greeks or the Republic, which connected fewer cities across smaller distances.x These Romanbuilt roads improved accessibility to goods and services, as with these limestone slabs, to more markets. This resulted in a greater scale of production and pro its for businesses, and increased trade across the region. Different regions could specialise in producing speci ic goods, suited to their geography and climate. Provinces in Italy could utilise their agrarian lands towards cultivating vineyards for wine production and import their olive oil from the Middle East instead.xi 38

The Empire played a crucial role in the continued attractiveness of its road network. It signi icantly invested in “facilities along roadways…which provided fodder, shelter, and animals”, similar to Gaius Albius’ encounters with mansiones and wells during his journey. xiv These facilities generated “previously non-existent opportunities for agricultural, artisanal, and industrial investment”, and provided a new source of revenue for businessmen.xv Roads were also consistently maintained over the irst to ifth centuries were of the Empire. Perhaps it is this continued maintenance of roads that re lects the “fundamental importance” of the road network to the “infrastructure of the Roman economy”.xvi While the Empire contributed to the maintenance of the roads, these roads also contributed to the maintenance of the Empire’s political control. During the late 3rd century CE in central Gaul, a large wall map of the Roman Empire, “a picture of the world” was hung onto the walls of notable schools in the region.xviiIt was updated regularly by messengers from across the Empire, passing through town, adding on new information to the otherwise incomplete map from their travels. The map allowed “young men to see and contemplate daily every land and all the seas…for people to see the entirety of the empire in the worlds arriving with the messengers”.xviii This served as a constant reminder of the Empire’s reach and conquests, reinforcing the military and political prowess of the Empire to its people.


It would be travelling back to Malaysia for Chinese New Year. It is a hassle, with horrendous traf�ic jams, crowded immigration checkpoints and the need to rush back in time for school. Yet, to be reunited with your entire extended family, even for a few short days, made it all worthwhile. It's a shame my last visit was almost a decade ago.

30 7  1  5&2-5 3 0 ' 2 # # $  4 *#6.#0'#,! 204#


',% -0"

Goh Swee Yik FASS, Year 2, History

464 : 263


Expericing the kindness of the local people in Japan and Taiwan. The Japanese were willing to help us who were lost, when we couldn't even communicate with each other. And the Taiwanese were very patient drivers, and they didn't horn us when we unknowingly crossed the road on a red man, and they just stopped or avoided us completely. Tan Jeng Woon FASS, Year 2, History

ost memo ins! My m ta n u o m in babu, Climbing ing Mt Mer was climb e n o supposle b as ra Java. It w al tr en t C routes, bu Magelang, ost scenic m e th f o , and the edly one in a storm t gh u ca k longer we were climb too N 1 D 2 e ly ldn't se supposed We cou . d te ec as p There w than ex 0m haha. s beyond 1 eir friend anything th s who lost d n ie fr it f e o mad a group o. Alas we the peak to by fogs. ed enroute to m was welco d an k ea to the p FASS, Year



M y fa vouri t e t ra skydi vel ex ving f perie o r the nce w Au s t r �irst t as alia! i me in J u mpin fe e t Pe r t h g do above , wn 1 the g but 0,000 ro u n d an e wa s xhila ra t i n scary g ex perie nce! FASS, Eric Year 2, His to r y

Darren Ng FASS, Year 3, History d ds. Wil e Islan o r a t F the ists, no of tour a ro u n d e g m in lu g ll o Trave r hikin s, low v stuff fo dscape b n r la e . p d u e rugg e place land. S re of th g as Ice u in lt z u e c e e as fr ding th lpful. derstan and he ly d and un n ie fr y r e v a re Locals Nauf graphy r 3, Geo a e Y FASS,

en I went l experience was wh My favourite trave ir way of liday and saw the to Vietnam for ho In particuir historical sites. living as well as the ls and was the Cu Chi tunne lar, I remember considerphisticated it was, amazed by how so built! which they were ing the time in Serene FASS, Year 2, CNM

Seri dies 4, SEA Stu

To hike 3 different mountains in 9 days and witness dawn, sunrise, sunset, and dusk with different backdrops every single day (mountains, lake, paddy �ield, temples, sea) and to discover a secret beach with crystal clear water. All in one trip!


Irene Arieputri FASS, Year 2, Global Studies



I went to Mongolia as part of the National University of Mongolia's archaeological summer program, and it was great! Never saw so much �lat land in my life, nor so much Neolithic artefacts strewn willy-nilly on the ground (even picked up a bit of Khitan pottery wow). We even uncovered a Xiongnu grave haha. Best (historical) travel experience I've ever had.









er of 5 oth a g ro u p h it be w traveled e and to perienc 2015. I x e g in y r ti ip e ev shoo n Bali tr relish in Batur to wn, my to o t l d n a u s to e o d d r n M e Ha clos up on made a u gh t m e hiking a n d we . trip bro d from is e friends h g T d theirs n . n a e r o v y tivities ing be Years e c e A w b e . ll e e N v w n a o br ut my the sky a re a b o ks into l ever c �irewor il w o h eople w oh these p Alvina K tory , 1 ar His FASS, Ye

It was the 'normal' mom ents in Southern Vietnam such as having lunc h with my friend's family and odd or beautif ul sights from the motorbike that made my trip all the more special. The best part about riding a motorbike? Be it Grab or with a friend? The notion of trust. Yati FASS, Year 2, Political Science

A month lo ng trip to Australia la summer. W st e went to a total of states. Love 6 d it becaus e of the man maiden ex y periences - being aw from home/ ay family this long, drivin in a foreign g land, choppi ng my own �irewood, st arting up a �ireplace an many beau d tiful sights /experiences ! Nicole FASS, Year 3, Political Scie

I don't travel a lot, and most of my overseas experiences are with my schools! I love the feeling of achieving our goals (eg winning band competitions, completing seminars) and


then having to enjoy the R&R afterwards with my friends the feeling of freedom to explore new things without having to worry about other stuffs in Singapore! My favourite travel experience was a solo backpacking trip to Eastern Europe, across the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Prussia.

Ivy Heng FASS Year 3, Psychology

Douglas Ong Say Howe FASS, Year 1, History trip to y �irst m o e ls h as a ke t d it w me. I li t trip an s t fo r lo ir � o s s ry tha t a a s ing w itiner h My �ir n t y w r m o e o nd my . So,ev t o ra nning Japan ad, pla eal, lking h a I t ig m , b d xible f re e d o ot a le � n e. s r a erienc supe st w wa s w ex p ing lo t e t n e g a n(s), wa s obasa thing every e s u beca When a local brou Re y ge ght us around Guan angua gzhou and went to lish L that usual touris g places n E , ts 4 wouldnt have ac r a e Y , cess too like wh S S A stationery store F ole sale because the local often frequents the shop. Nichole Lim FASS, Year 2, Geog raphy

12 !



Profile for HISSOC Publications

Mnemozine: Issue Eleven  

A publication of National University of Singapore's History Society

Mnemozine: Issue Eleven  

A publication of National University of Singapore's History Society

Profile for mnemozine