This post first appeared on Dexterine’s blog and was posted onto the irememberSG Facebook page.
I was excited to attend ‘When Nations Remember 2’ Conference” today at at the River Room, level 2, Asian Civilisations’ Museum today.
Being forgetful and have to return home to get my hand phone, I was there late (at 9.40am) and miss the opening countdown of ‘3,2,1’.
I was delighted to catch up with some library counterparts, ex-students of TP and many good friends who volunteer in the project, i.e., Belinda Tan, Daisy Yeo, James Seah, Joyce Shum, Lily Wong, Patricia Lee, Peter Chan, Rosie Wee and Zahra Aljunied.
I missed some part of Gene Tan’s Speech, but here are the main points of the speech by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim:
* When Prime Minister Lee announced the Singapore Memory Project (SMP) during his National Day Rally speech earlier this year, we had only about 30,000 stories and memories. In slightly over three months, this has grown to more than 220,000 contributions. I hope we are on track to become a nation of storytellers. This tremendous increase in contributions is testimony to how this project has touched Singaporeans and all who feel a part of Singapore.
* … like to applaud the enthusiastic efforts of all our partners – more than 90 academic, research and library institutions, heritage agencies, public agencies, private entities and community organisations; almost 100 volunteers, our Memory Corps, who come from all walks of life; as well as members of the public who contributed directly to the irememberSG website who made this possible. The range and diversity of partnerships reflect wide community participation and ownership.
* … grateful for the strong support and assistance extended to us by our Memory Corps who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes. By selflessly giving your time, playing roles from curator to connector, you have made the wider collection of memories possible.
* Everyone Can Contribute
* … the SMP team collaborated with RediscoverSG, who are four young Singaporeans passionate about chronicling life in Singapore, to gather stories on the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. The public responded positively to the iremember KTM initiative with their contributions of personal stories and photographs.
* Partners, like the Ministry of Education Heritage Centre and the Academy of School Teachers, also extended their support through the “iremembermySchoolDays” initiative, which gathered many school-day memories.
* Besides contributions from organisations and groups, the SMP team told me that we also have entries from abroad, all the way from the United Kingdom as well as Japan, with stories stretching from the 1930s to present day. For instance, Ms Fiona Hodgkins, who first came to Singapore from England in 1975 as a nine year old, shared her memories on growing up in Singapore during her early years, of learning to eat curry and visiting the Dutch club (as the British Club did not exist then) until her family left when she was 17 years old. There is also the story of Ms Wang Hui Ling, who is now residing in Japan, who shared her memories on the Hello Kitty craze in 2000, something that will be familiar to those of us who are young at heart.
* Sharing our memories with the generations to come
* The SMP is not just about building a database of memories or stories. Each memory helps to add to the collective that enriches our understanding and experience of our past.
* I remember when I was a kid, we were issued with the POSB “Save At School” stamp card with empty boxes for pasting postage stamps, and we would use our savings to buy 5-cent or 10-cent stamps to paste onto the card. When we complete the card with 20 stamps, we will give it to the school which will send it in to the bank, and it adds to our savings account. Till today, I still have a POSB account.
* The SMP aims to do the same – for every Singaporean to start the habit of saving. But, in this case, we are saving our memories and depositing them into a shared memory bank for ourselves, our children, grandchildren, and for others to enjoy, and more importantly, to enrich their lives.
* … look forward to everyone’s support to achieve the target of collecting 5 million memories by 2015.
* Launch of PictureSG — an online collection of images, whether artworks or photographs, showcasing the socio-cultural and historical development of Singapore. I think this is a wonderful initiative by NLB, because pictures say a thousand words. With this, the public can now share his image, include a description or even add a tag to it, so that people can understand and appreciate the image. Like the irememberSG website, the SMP will insure this for posterity so that future generations can draw from these memory accounts and continue to be inspired by the stories of Singapore and her past.
* Today’s event shows that we care about everything that affirms our identity in Singapore, that we want to do our part to recollect for posterity what we remember. These efforts will draw us closer together as a nation and leave a legacy for future generations.
The programmes that make an imprint on my mind are:
Memory Corps Lai Tuck Chong and Low Jiaxin’s sharing on their experience in documenting the memories of a group of water heritage pioneers. The “Documenting memories of PUB Ex-Water Treatment Plant in Johor” have a group of Six PUB staff from the former Water Treatment Plants in Johor interviewed, captured in a seven minute video. I like the way “CEO” is being used to name “Chief Entertaining Officer”, that shows the PUB staff have light-hearted and life-warming way of making heavy project a joyful process!.
Youth Project: RediscoverSG by A group of NTU students: Derek Foo, Elizabeth (Lizzy) Lee, Lim Song Lip and Jeremy Tan. I was touched by the introduction of the “The Unseen/Unsaid” 10-part mini series. The two mini espisodes Lizzy shown to the audience narrate everyday Singaporeans’ life through forgotten trades and places. “Unseen/Unsaid allow viewers a glimpse into the personal struggles of individual Singaporeans whose stories draw a parallel with the surrounding places and landscapes”.
As Lizzy put it “The 10-part series is born out of a desire to preserve the fragments of Singapore’s past that is rapidly being replaced by new developments.” I like Episode 9 on Satay Boy in Tiong Bahru, and it was not shown at the conference. Being a resident in Tiong Bahru Estate for over 30 years, This video on ‘Ah Pui Kia’ at “wanders the neighbourhood with his pushcart; a cart that had seen much of the excitement and vigour of the past” is very closed to my heart. Satay boy had grown from a young boy 30 years back to a middle age man now, and he still visit our block everyday to sell satay in the late afternoon.
“Uncovering the Legacy of a Nation through Memory Documentation” by Pauline Loh let us have an insight of the Robinson’s Fire in 1972. Her interview with Mr Robert Tan (My friend, Ms Rosalind Tan’s brother) on stage allows for history to be retold in an interactive fashion. I could hear the event being told from someone who were working there. Pauline also documented his father in-law’s life journey before he passed away. From the second interview with her daughter Alexis, we see how younger generation translate and understand “match making” in the real sense. I think Pauline has the best gift for her daughter and it is something many family in Singapore may miss unintentionally.
There are other sharing on Geylang and MOE Heritage Centre and more in the afternoon, and I know I will have more to re-discover Singapore in the coming year!