It is easy finding our way around today, even in a new place. Our phones have maps and built-in GPS so we never have to worry about getting anywhere. These maps in our pockets allow us to figuratively conquer space.
Maps, however, are also tools to help one literally conquer a place. Maps enable armies to gain new territories and subdue populations. The relationship with cartography and power is the focus of this issue’s cover story by Chia Jie Lin. The essay ties in with our latest exhibition “Mapping the World: Perspectives from Asian Cartography”, now taking place on level 10 of the National Library Building.
Speaking of foreign invasion, 2022 marks the 80th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore. Dan Black recounts the terrifying final hours of the troopship Empress of Asia, which was sunk by the Japanese near Sultan Shoal off Tuas in February 1942. The Asia carried over 2,000 soldiers who came to bolster Singapore’s defences.
A happier anniversary was celebrated in 2021 though. Do join us on a trip down memory lane as Sharon Teng revisits the Jurong Drive-in Cinema, which opened in July 1971. Although it only lasted 14 years, it left indelible memories on those fortunate enough to catch a movie there.
While Sharon’s trip was figurative, Faris Joraimi literally went on a boat-ride to Pulau Lingga in search of forgotten links to Singapore. His essay – part-travelogue, part-history – is well worth the price of the ticket.
Buying a ticket, however, is now a thing of the past at The Substation, which shut its doors at Armenian Street in 2021. To commemorate this one-of-a-kind arts space, Clarissa Oon speaks to the people who were there at its beginning.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the stories in this issue. Lim Tin Seng finds out how Tree Planting Day blossomed, Yap Jo Lin plays tour guide through the homes of famous towkays, Patricia Lim recalls the life of a trailblazer in education for Chinese girls and Toffa Abdul Wahed takes us through the cookbooks of Siti Radhiah. And last but not least, we also have a photo essay showing stunning natural history illustrations associated with Stamford Raffles some 200 years ago.
From cookbooks to shipwrecks, this issue is another collection of essays you will want to re-read over and over again. Wishing all our readers a brave new year! Here’s hoping that 2022 will be better.
Ms Alicia Yeo