Amazing...the Marina Bay is taking shape. Singapore is truely becoming a global city!
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I love political paintings. The Epic Poem of Malaya is a magnificent piece completed in 1955 by Chua Mia Tee. It depicts 14 figures comprising students and workers listening to a young man reciting a poem - presumably a leftist version - of the history of Malaya. The entire atmosphere is not only reminiscent of typical leftist artistic style of the Cold War era, but also politically highly charged, which is not surprising given the chaotic political struggle during the period. I look forward to seeing this painting at the Singapore Art Museum, and eventually at the new National Art Gallery when the latter is open.
Today has an interesting writeup on the various details of this fascinating painting. Click the image - enlarge it - to see the full details.
I have visited Commonwealth WWII war cemeteries in Tricomalee (Sri Lanka), Chittagong (Bangladesh) and Kohima (Nagaland, India). Guess I have to visit the one in Singapore too. Right in front of the Commonwealth War Cemetery is the Singapore State Cemetery where Singapore's first (Yusof bin Ishak) and second (Benjamin Sheares) presidents were buried. The third president, Devan Nair, died in self-imposed exile in Canada and was buried there. The fourth president, Wee Kim Wee, was cremated and his ashes placed at Mandai Columbarium, at his request to be among the ordinary people of Singapore. The fifth president, Ong Teng Cheong, did not receive a state funeral. Thus are the little-known political complications in Singapore.
The Commonwealth War Cemetery looked just like any other CWC I have visited. Very well-maintained and dignified. It's interesting to note that whereas British war deaths were once buried in places where they died for the empire, today's war casulaties in Iraq and Afghanistan were returned to their hometowns in the British Isles. The Empire was long gone. No more reasons to bury where the Union Jack still flies. It was also interesting that, from my limited and superficial observations during that short walkabout, British war dead were buried in individual plots while Asian war dead merely had their names engraved on the walls behind. Perhaps it isn't difficult to guess the reasons.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
From 16th to 18th April, there was a Teochew-Taoist Thanksgiving and Sutra ceremony organised by Ngee Ann Kongsi, the landlord of Ngee Ann City/Takashimaya shopping mall right at the heart of Orchard Road. This colourful ceremony is held every year over what used to be a huge Teochew cemetery in the area, before it was converted into a fashionable mall. In fact, I heard some said years ago that the complex, when viewed from its monumental civic plaza, resembles a traditional Taoist grave, and that a room at the back of the basement level contains the door way to the underworld. It was claimed that the room is only opened occasionally and one can often hear strange noises there late at night. Whatever it is, the thanksgiving ceremony and the numerous colourful decoration and sacrificial offerings are a feast for the eyes, and certainly something the Tourism Board should highlight to tourists. There were also two huge paper boats that would be burned at the final night as offerings to the dead.