WWII historic markers will be updated to carry Singapore’s 4 official languages and Japanese: NHB

25-Feb-2019 Intellasia | Straits Times | 6:00 AM Print This Post

The design of World War II historic markers will be updated to include Singapore’s four official languages, as well as Japanese, the National Heritage Board (NHB) said on Friday (February 22).

This comes after former foreign minister George Yeo highlighted how the historic site marker for the Sook Ching massacre in Changi Beach previously carried information in the five languages but was replaced by a plaque that is in only English.

Speaking at an Institute of Policy Studies conference in January (2019), he said: “This is deliberately reducing our cultural genome… It is denying us of a powerful capability, a precious inheritance from the past which in fact will secure our future.” He also called for linguistic diversity to be preserved at such public monuments and signs.

Including the Japanese language was critical because it is also important for the Japanese to know the history behind the monument, he added.

In a Facebook post on Friday, NHB thanked Yeo for his feedback on the historic site marker in Changi Beach, which was erected in 1992 to mark the killings in Changi Beach on the 50th anniversary of the fall of Singapore.

Said NHB: “World War II is an important part of Singapore’s history. Given its special significance, we agree with Yeo that having these historic site markers in four official languages and Japanese will enable Singaporeans and visitors to better reflect on how our wartime history has shaped Singapore and its people.”

The board added that it will explore ways, including the use of technology, to make more information on its historic sites available to visitors. It said the aim is to strike a balance between presenting content that is meaningful to the reader and practical considerations such as readability.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, in a separate Facebook post on Friday, said she is glad that NHB has reviewed Yeo’s feedback, and will be updating its World War II historic site markers.

She wrote: “This will enable more Singaporeans and overseas visitors to gain a better understanding of our wartime past, as well as the lessons to be learned from this poignant chapter in our history.”

A check by ST of 36 signs at memorials, national monuments, tourist attractions and public institutions earlier this month found that about 40 per cent did not have information in all four official languages.

However, some agencies have quietly made moves to remedy the problem.

Changi Airport now uses all four official languages and Japanese on its signs in Terminal 2 and Terminal 4, which opened in 2017. But most signs at Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 still do not have information in Tamil.

In Chinatown, a brown sign put up by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to mark Chinatown Food Street in Smith Street now has a Tamil translation, although photos from 2009 showed that Tamil was missing then.

Tamil has also been added to the brown signs for Lau Pa Sat Festival Market and Merlion Park near the Esplanade Bridge, which did not have information in Tamil, as seen in photos taken in 2012.

The STB brown signs indicate tourist attractions or landmarks.



Category: Singapore

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