Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Raymond Anthony Fernando’s letter to MediaCorp’s TODAY Newspaper: Seeking public views vital to success of Projects

My letter to the press on the above subject is published today, Wednesday 22 February 2017.


It is a healthy sign that the Government has listened to feedback and decided to rename Syonan Gallery more realistically to “Surviving the Japanese Occupation: War and its Legacies” (“Yaacob apologises for pain that Syonan Gallery name caused”; Feb 18).


That many whose family members the Japanese troops had targeted welcome the change is understandable.


My mother had told me that a large number of males between the ages of 18 and 50 were summoned to screening centres and that those suspected of being anti-Japanese were executed, some at Changi Beach.


She said the Japanese soldiers would check homes frequently, and if people were caught listening to BBC Radio, the soldiers would ram chopsticks into their ears.


The late Elizabeth Choy, my former teacher at St Andrew’s School, was a war heroine who had been interrogated and tortured by the Kempeitai, but she never admitted to being a British sympathiser.


She was released after enduring 200 days of suffering and threats of execution. In recognition of her bravery, she was awarded the Order of the British Empire. Her students loved her and, until this day, speak fondly of her.


The horrors of war are a reminder to us to stay as one united Singapore as we continue to face challenges. There is also the importance of taking National Service seriously.


Seeking the public’s views is vital to the successful development and shaping of services, projects and programmes.


In the case of sensitive issues with long-term implications, like this war exhibition, consultation is needed before implementation.

For example, the Ministry of Communications and Information could have organised a sponsored contest, with two categories — adults and youths — for citizens to have had the opportunity to give the exhibition a suitable name.

I am confident that corporate sponsors would have stepped forward for such a worthy project, and that it would have attracted wide participation and made more citizens aware of the hardships war brings.



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