|Historical facts are always already mediated.|
No historical narrative corresponds to the sum total of historical facts.
24 February 2017
Yes, the Syonan Gallery has been renamed to the less offensive and traumatising "Surviving the Japanese Occupation: War and its Legacies". But have the professionals behind the formulating, marketing, chronicalising, and critiquing of Singapore history learnt from this episode? Should they seriously reconsider an approach and narrative that is not just stale, not just failed, but poisoning the Singapore identity?
17 February 2017
On 10 February 2017, Singapore's National Library Board (NLB) unveiled the new name for the Old Ford Factory WW2 history museum. It would be called the Syonan Gallery, in memory of the name Singapore was administered as during the Japanese Occupation.
Tempers flared. According to the rising ire of detractors, the name Syonan (昭南 or "Light of the South") was an affront to survivors of the occupation. It glorified the imperialist project of the Japanese. The minister in charge of culture disagreed. Syonan is the most appropriate name to remind ourselves never again.
Of course there isn't a doubt that Syonan Gallery was a mistake. It's a mistake that hasn't been seen before in the field of cultural and historical production. To my knowledge, there isn't a Sudentenland Museum in the Czech Republic, or a Lebensraum Museum or a Heims in Reich Museum in Poland - because competent historians and curators elsewhere know better than to name a war museum using the frame of reference of the historical villains.
17 October 2016
In his judgement, the honorable Tay Yong Kwan appears to have made a Solomonic decision: the Attorney-General gets his Official Secrets Act to apply to the interview and transcripts, and the Estate of the late Mr Lee gets its full copyright to the same interview and transcripts. That is to say, the Estate has "full copyright and literary rights", only to the extent of checking that the Government complies with the Interview Agreement.
Rafael's Judgment of Solomon
13 October 2016
Memories, Official Secrets, and the National Archives: A matter of governmental judgment or archival discretion?
In the case of Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang vs Attorney-General, the honorable Tay Yong Kwan has ruled that the transcripts of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's interviews with the National Archives are:
1. covered by the Official Secrets Act;
2. copyrighted by Mr Lee's estate, but only to the extent of "ensuring the Government's compliance with the Interview Agreement"; and
3. in custody of the Cabinet Secretary [our note: till 2020, when the Government may exercise the discretion to hand them over to the National Archives then, at a later date, or never, or indefinitely delay that decision].
Both the Estate and the Attorney-General appear to have disregarded the consideration and interests of the Archives itself when they argued their cases. Neither the National Archives of Singapore, any of its fellow SARBICA member associations, or even the International Council of Archives have not been called by either side to submit an affidavit for the case. It thus falls on us at Illusio to illustrate how an archival institution or a community of archival experts may possibly view the case. Or at least, weigh in on whether and when archival interviews should be official secrets, and who typically has copyright, and explain why.
23 September 2016
In our "Rise of the anti-intellectual, illiberal left" category, the question is:
Which of the following did not happen this week?
B. Social Justice Warriors waging war on a museum. It put on a fundraising dinner called the Empire Ball to kick of its curated exhibition of the Tate's edgy, critical, anti-colonial take on Empire and Artists (co-branding yay or nay?). They object to the word empire, of course.
C. Social Justice Warriors waging war on Fox's Empire. The word empire is imperialist (duh) and triggering.
20 September 2016
The workmanlike quality of the constitutional commission's report is to to be commended, for its efforts to ensure Minilee's quest to amend the constitution proceed on time.
18 July 2016
As we argued last month, the principles of the exercise and distribution of power by the state and its agencies, in the event of an investigation, have been contravened in the investigation of alleged breaches of the cooling off amendments of the Parliamentary Elections Act. The police have usurped the role of the public prosecutor and attorney general in their questioning of Roy Ngerng, and more importantly, both the ELD and police have usurped the role of the courts in their joint press statement.
One month later, the separation of investigative, prosecutorial, and judicial roles of state agencies continue to be blurred. This is cause for major concern.