Tuesday, August 9, 2011
46 Years Of Story, Not History
There was another aeroplane story about three guys flying home from some Commonwealth meeting. Rajaratnam opined that if he threw down a $10 note, it would make someone very happy. Lee Kuan Yew the smart aleck said ten $1 bills would make more people happy. Economics whiz Goh Keng Swee countered with 100 ten-cent coins, and they started to argue about happiness associated with quantum of monetary windfalls. Tired of the ruckus, the pilot walked over from his cabin and said, "If you guys don't shut up, I'll throw you out and that should make 1 million people very happy." This is obvioulsy a very olde story, way before some crazy bureaucrat tried to cram 6 million humans into our Little Red Dot.
Challenged by Cheong that our National Museum is not the world class flagship Nation Heritage Board (NHB) embarked on to build 9 years ago, Koh admitted that it received complaints about the approach to tell the Singapore story through the perspectives of fashion, food, film and photography.
The original inspiration was good, claims Koh, but "there is official history and there's people's history." Now that's another rude reminder of Winston Churchill's shrewd observation, "History is written by the victors ... There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true.” See if you can find a reference to "mee siam mai hum" in the food perspective of the National Museum galleries. And don't bother looking for Martyn See's "Singapore Rebel" in the film section either.
"The bureaucratic instinct is to be defensive but my instinct is the opposite." With that kind of sentiment, it is easy to understand why Tommy Koh is not joining the $4 million race. That, plus the fact his surname is not Tan.