Archive

January 2019

Browsing

Welcome to the first issue of BiblioAsia for 2019. This year we mark a major turning point in Singapore’s history, the 200th anniversary of the founding of a British trading post on the island – a date generally accepted as the beginnings of modern Singapore. It is common knowledge that Stamford Raffles and his deputy William Farquhar landed on Singapore on 28 January 1819 and later negotiated with the Temenggong to set up a settlement on the island. Most history books highlight Raffles’ role in the subsequent development of Singapore into a flourishing port and gloss over Farquhar’s contributions. Nadia Wright attempts to set the record straight in this issue’s cover story. Even so, Singapore’s history did not begin with Raffles’ arrival in 1819: it goes back some 500 years earlier. Tan Tai Yong provides a brief history of Singapore since the 14th century when Temasek – as the island…

Ronnie Tan and Goh Yu Mei recount the story of a ruthless Malayan Communist Party cadre whose cold-blooded murders caused a sensation in Singapore in the 1950s. Wong Fook Kwang, who went by several aliases, including Tit Fung (literally “Iron Spearhead” in Cantonese) was the dreaded Commander of ‘E’ Branch, the assassination wing of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP). The MCP was most active during the Japanese Occupation years when it formed the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) to fight the enemy, and again in the aftermath of World War II, in the thick of the Malayan Emergency (1948–60), when it waged a guerilla war against the British in a bid to topple the colonial government and set up a communist regime. Sometime in April 1951, Wong received a terse message from the MCP’s South Malayan Bureau’s jungle headquarters in Johor, Malaya. The order was clear: Lim Teck Kin, a…