The lead feature, “Raffles and the Founding of Singapore”, focuses on the National Library’s upcoming exhibition of rare letters from the collections of the Library and the Bute Archive in the United Kingdom. Written by Raffles during Singapore’s early years, the letters present the unique perspective of Singapore’s founder on the port city that he was instrumental in establishing. Curator Kevin Tan examines the historical context of the letters, which will go on show in August 2012.
This issue also explores Singapore’s urban development in the 20th century. Lee Kong Chian Research Fellow Julian Davison examines the making of Singapore’s first high-rise skyline from 1918 to 1928 in “On the Waterfront”, while Lim Tin Seng studies Singapore’s more recent development as a Garden City in “From Botanic Gardens to Gardens by the Bay”.
The growth of any city is accompanied by inevitable concerns about the sustainability of urban development. In “Sustaining City-State Singapore”, Victor Savage explores the management of “brown” issues as a key element of Singapore’s strategy for sustainable urban development.
Singapore’s rapid development has also meant both the creation and loss of neighbourhoods. Alvin Chua outlines the history of Tiong Bahru, Singapore’s first public housing estate, while Sundusia Rosdi recalls memories of Kampung Pasiran in “Menyingkap Kenangan Kampung Pasiran dan Sekitarannya”.
In keeping with our celebration of Singapore’s National Day, the front cover of this issue features a portrait of Raffles as a nod towards his role in the establishment of Singapore as a port city. The back cover looks at the development of Singapore through snapshots of the central business district skyline in 1932, 1986 and 2012. The changes in the skyline are both startling and an interesting reflection of Singapore’s growth since the early 20th century.
As a reminder of Singapore’s setting within the Southeast Asian region, the National Library publication, An Anthology of English Writing from Southeast Asia, will be launched in July. Shirley Chew reviews the book in “‘Rich and Strange’: The Manifold Remaking of English in Southeast Asian Literatures”.
We hope you enjoy this issue of BiblioAsia. Happy reading!
Ms Ngian Lek Choh
Director, National Library