Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Just Another Tainted History Book On Singapore

On the last day of 2010, Friday 31st December, Mr Lim Chin Joo highlighted an error in the publication, "Chronicle of Singapore: Fifty years Of Headline News (1959-2009)". The Straits Times article of 22 Nov 1965 featured ("Chin Siong: Hurt in free-for-all") was proven false in a court of law after Chin Siong sued for libel in 1966, and the allegation was retracted in a subsequent article dated 27 May 1966 ("Free for all libel action by Chin Siong is settled"). Said paper also printed a correction, apology was accepted, and money paid to the satisfaction of the plaintiff.  Lim Chin Siong was not involved in a fight in prison, so there. He was imprisoned on charges of being a communist, charges which still remain unsubstantiated.

Mr Lim Chin Joo wondered aloud how the collaborative effort between publishers Editions Didier Millet (EDM is a French-owned publishing house) and the National Library Board decided to pick the misleading article of 22 Nov 1965 for printing and left out the correction of 27 May 1966. He felt NLB owes the public a duty not to let falsehoods be perpetuated as part of history. So far every thing's pretty straight forward and easy to comprehend, even for a non-native English speaker.

The weird part is when a Charles Orwin of EDM tries vehemently to absolve NLB of shirking their custodian responsibilities by suggesting Mr Lim mistook that the book was co-published by NLB. "It was not. The book was published solely by Editions Didier Millet," wrote Orwin in the second paragraph of his missive to the Forum page. He then goes on about how they industriously accessed and researched materials, blah, blah, blah. Then in his closing paragraph, Orwin screws up royally by shooting his own foot, "In the book, we acknowledge the NLB as co-publisher."

Somebody is obviously mangling the English language to perpetuate a falsehood here. If you don't say what you mean, how can you possibly mean what you say? Since NLB and a foreigner is involved in the tango, we may never get to know who has the political agenda here. Note the "publisher" and "foreign source" elements in this incendiary mix - shouldn't some party be gazetted? As Rhett Butler would say to Scarlett O'Hara, "Frankly, my dear, we don't give a damn".

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