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Singapore Stories: Language, Class, and the Chinese of Singapore, 1945–2000 By Ernest ...

Chapter 1:  The Historian and the Singapore Story
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Singapore Stories:

Chapter 1

The Historian
and the Singapore Story


There is a simple arc to all national narratives. As creation stories, they occlude, submerging heterogeneity and reducing the reality of multifarious, plural pasts into fictitious, common histories. They tell of heroes and leaders, convey important decisions and moments, and create legitimacy for the empowered. This is particularly true for postcolonial societies, where divided precolonial loyalties need to be reconfigured and reconciled with new postcolonial allegiances. The public narrative of Singapore’s past presents us with a quintessential example. Submerging all forms of remembrance in Singapore is the authoritative version presented by the state, Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore Story. The Singapore Story is at its heart a triumphal narrative of deliverance from political, economic, and social despair. It is also a powerful story that has gained a great deal of currency with much of “English Singaporean”