"Reflection on Singapore's history" is the theme for this Tangent Issue. During a Tangent Forum "(Un)Learning the Past", Tangent members Low Yen Yen, Chiu Wei Li and Goh Sin Hwee presented their essays. As alternative perspectives, they posed questions such as how we view certain segments of history, and why we think history might be important. Compiling responses from Dr Ho Kai Leong and Dr Lee Guan Kin, as well as several later contributors, the three members modified their essays and had them published in this new issue.
Tangent also interviewed three elders: Mr Han Tan Juan, Mr Yeng Pway Ngon, and Professor Koh Tai Ann. Looking at the history of Singapore from three different viewpoints, readers will find themselves looking at three distinct stories of personal encounters in the history of Singapore.
Of course, we cannot rely on a few pieces of oral history as representative of the full picture. However, we cannot deny that a plurality of interpretations is necessary on the road towards uncovering the truth. As Tangent Editor-in-Chief Lee Huay Leng said, "we might not uncover the truth, but we should retain our spirit of inquiry."
"Some people consider certain episodes of history and certain characters' pasts to be "sensitive" areas that are taboo, untouchable and best not debated. But when piecing the bits of history together, should there really be events deemed as 'sensitive'? Who decides the definition and boundaries of 'sensitive' areas? Is it one who is in power, or one who is out of power?"
李慧玲 Lee Huay Leng