War Memory and the Making of Modern Malaysia and Singapore
Singapore fell to Japan on 15 February 1942. Within days, the Japanese had massacred thousands of Chinese civilians, and taken prisoner more than 100,000 British, Australian and Indian soldiers. A resistance movement formed in Malaya's jungle-covered mountains, but the vast majority could do little other than resign themselves to life under Japanese rule. The Occupation would last three and a half years, until the return of the British in September 1945.
How is this period remembered? And how have individuals, communities, and states shaped and reshaped memories in the postwar era? The book response to these questions, presenting answers that use the words of Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians, British and Australians who personally experienced the war years.
The authors guide readers through many forms of memory: from the soaring pillars of Singapore's Civilian War Memorial, to traditional Chinese cemeteries in Malaysia; and from families left bereft by Japanese massacres, to the young women who flocked to the Japanese-sponsored Indian National Army, dreaming of a march on Delhi.
This volume provides a forum for previously marginalized and self-censored voices, using the stories they relate to reflect on the nature of conflict and memory. They also offer a deeper understanding of the searing transit from wartime occupation to post-war decolonization and the moulding of postcolonial states and identities.
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"...an illuminating study of the complex contestations and configurations of the politics of memory to which war lends itself." - Diana Wong
"...an enthusiastic study of war memory in both Singapore and Malaysia. It demonstrates the malleability of the past, showing how war memory is suppressed or shaped, and how stories take on mythic qualities. In particular, its analytical model of breaking down memory into the level of individual, community, and state is very helpful at deconstructing this process." - PJ Thum
“In this excellent study War Memory brings out the persistence of multiple memories and the challenge of constructing a national narrative that is inclusive yet authentic. It is a book of high scholarly standard and should contribute to an informed discussion of history-writing in Malaya.” - Lee Kam Hing
Personal Narratives of British Defeat and Japanese Occupation
1i Three war veterans at the September 2005 Forum
2ii K R Das and his Japanese friend Kikuchi Sekine
3i Mohd Anis bin Tairan being interviewed by Kevin
The European Prisoner of War as Hero and Victim
1iii Australian exPOWs watching Japanese POWs
2i Singapore Cenotaph
Malay Warriors and Pemuda
1v Lieutenant Adnan Saidi
3xiii Sergeant Hassan poster
5i Tugu Negara
Nations and States
Memory and NationBuilding in Malaysia
1i National Museum of History 19962007 Kuala
4iv Malaya Tribune cartoon on postwar conditions
6i Changi Chapel as built by the Singapore Tourism
The Nativity Scene
The Chinese War Hero
1vi Cheng Seang Ho at the opening of the Kranji
3viii Lim Bo Seng with Force 136 colleague John Davis
1v Remains from the 1960s Chinese Chamber
6xii The Winning Design for the Civilian War Memo
Indian Nationalism and Suffering
2iii Emaciated patients in a hospital hut at Nakom