I enjoyed Merdeka last night and would happily watch it again tonight. It’s good. However an American friend, caught between an impulse to stand and the fear of imposing peer pressure, asked me afterwards whether Singaporean audiences give standing ovations. I said sure. I’ve stood up to applaud Ian McKellen and Kevin Spacey in Singapore.
I believe Alfian, Glen and all the rest should aspire to those heights—especially when they are charging me $14 for a tiny drop of wine—so there is still quite a long way to go. Treat my below comments with that benchmark and perspective in mind. Also, pardon my ignorance on many things, I am not a theatre critic, just an armchair busybody.
Excerpt of my piece on Singapore’s bicentennial, i.e. commemoration of the arrival of Raffles and The British Empire in 1819, first published on Nikkei Asian Review From Cape Town to San Francisco, cities have been toppling monuments to historical figures with troubling legacies. In Singapore, authorities have opted for a more genteel way of dealing with the statue of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the British … Continue reading Singapore—history haunts the ultra-modern state
Though the Arabs and others had visited before, in 1638 the Dutch became the first inhabitants of Mauritius, which they had earlier named after Prince Maurice van Nassau.
Ecologically, one can only wonder what it must have been like. Without humans or other big predators, unique flora and fauna thrived, most notably the dodo. They were severely affected by habitat loss and the introduction of non-native species such as pigs and macaques. The last sighting of the dodo was in the late 17th C.
In 1715, five years after the Dutch abandoned their colony, the French established one, renaming the island Isle de France. It became a key strategic outpost as well as a trade port for ships travelling between Asia and Europe. Amid the Napoleonic wars, the British won control of Isle de France in 1810, and revived its former name, Mauritius. They would rule till independence in 1968.
Importantly, a compromise was struck between the incoming British rulers and the French settlers, who were permitted to keep their land, the French language and French law.
Hence Mauritius today has a schizophrenic colonial heritage, with English as the official medium, including in parliament and school, and French Creole as the popular one—in a country named after a Dutchman.
During the recent Euro 2016 football tournament, “Franco-Mauritians” supported France while most Hindu-Mauritians supported England. When England seemed on the verge of playing France, I was told to ready myself for the sporting occasion of the year, a night when the whole country would shut down.
But then the plucky Icelanders ruined the party by beating the English to set up their own meeting with France. Football fans in Mauritius groaned.
A wonderful short documentary looking at post-war independence movements in Malaya. The good old days of a nascent democracy. Chinese/Indians/Malays coming together to kick out the British colonialists. The part around 19:50 is particularly relevant in terms of contemporary race relations. Very exciting to see more and more perspectives on our countries’ histories. Click here to watch it. Here’s the official description: October 20th, 1947 … Continue reading Sepuluh Tahun Sebelum Merdeka (Ten years before independence)