The Spotlight for this issue falls on the speech by George Yeo, Minister for Foreign Affairs, at the launch of the “Rihlah – Arabs in Southeast Asia” exhibition and conference held on 10 April. This is a very interesting speech that is peppered with delightful anecdotes of the Minister’s visit to the Hadhramaut in 2007 and stories that reveal the significant contributions of the Arab and other traders to the Southeast Asian economy and society since the early 19th century.
In conjunction with the Rihlah exhibition, two publications have been published, the first is a book on the “Hadhrami Arabs across the Indian Ocean” and the second, a bilbliography entitled “The Hadhrami Arabs in Southeast Asia with special reference to Singapore”. The bibliography includes various printed materials ranging from newspaper articles to monographs in English, and other languages such as Arabic, Indonesian, Malay, Dutch and French. Kartini Saparudin, a Reference Librarian with the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library pens a bibliographic survey of known intellectual discourses on the Hadhrami Arabs in Southeast Asia. In his review, Professor Michael Gilsenan from New York University considers this bibliography a milestone and an essential tool for researchers conducting studies on the Hadhramis and their migrations over the centuries.
Erik Holmberg, our Lee Kong Chian Research Fellow writes about the less well known tragedy at the Fortune of War tavern in 1872 involving European soldiers and sailors. The essay provides interesting details about the cause and aftermath of the tragedy highlighting the status of the working class population in colonial Singapore – a subject which deserves more documentation.
In “Unveiling Secrets of the Past through the Passage of Malay Scripts”, Mohamed Pitchay Gani unlocks the contents of Aksara: Menjejaki Tulisan Melayu (Aksara: The Passage of Malay Scripts) to reveal the secrets of the past in relation to the Malay language and its scripts. This publication, recently published by the National Library Singapore, is recommended to researchers, scholars and those who have a special interest in this subject. Scripts on various media from the earliest years, ranging from inscriptions on stones, tree bark, palm leaves to name a few, are captured in the book, providing a visual feast not to be missed.
On the 14th of August 2010, Singapore will play host to the inaugural Youth Olympics Games, welcoming young athletes from all over the world, competing in some 26 sporting events while participating in a cultural and educational exchange programme. Wee Tong Bao, a librarian at the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library maps out the early history of physical education and sports training in Singapore schools as a prelude to the Youth Olympic Games. The first of the two-part article features the educational curriculum and certification aspects of teacher training in both English medium and vernacular schools in the formative years.
Last but not least, Singapore’s longstanding relationship with China is revisited by Vicky Gao, a Chinese Reference Librarian with the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library. The collection review of Chinese materials in relation to major milestones in the diplomatic relations with China over the last 20 years bears significance to the importance of bilateral ties between a small state and a big power in the region.
Happy reading! Do share with us your comments and feedback.
Ms Ngian Lek Choh