Author

Goh Yu Mei

Browsing

What makes the difference between a good artist and a brilliant one? Goh Yu Mei delves into the books and artworks that have inspired a literary and artistic genius. Housed within the Donors Gallery at level 10 of the National Library Building is the Tan Swie Hian Collection of over 6,600 items – comprising books, artworks, manuscripts, personal notebooks and other items – that illuminate the creative journeys of an extraordinarily gifted ­Singaporean artist. The collection is important for the light it sheds on Tan Swie Hian (b. 1943), the multidisciplinary artist whose oeuvre spans several genres in the literary and visual arts. Internationally acclaimed for his painting, sculpture, calligraphy and public artworks, Tan is equally accomplished at penning poetry, essays and fables as he is with multimedia creations incorporating dance choreographies, live performances and musical compositions. Witnessing the artworks of Tan provides at best a superficial appreciation of the artist;…

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…