Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/220329
Title: AMERICANISATION IN SINGAPORE : THE RECOUNT OF A REPRESSED HISTORY IN SINGAPORE'S FIRST TEN YEAR OF NATIONHOOD
Authors: FOO CHUN FUNG, CLARENCE
Keywords: Architecture
Design Track
Erik Gerard L'Heureux
2011/2012 DT
Issue Date: 5-Jan-2012
Citation: FOO CHUN FUNG, CLARENCE (2012-01-05). AMERICANISATION IN SINGAPORE : THE RECOUNT OF A REPRESSED HISTORY IN SINGAPORE'S FIRST TEN YEAR OF NATIONHOOD. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: This paper examines a set of untold and repressed historiography which took place during the first ten year of Singapore’s nationhood from 1965 to 1975; one that is pertaining to the “Americanisation” of Singapore in architecture and urban development. It will do so by using a 1979 film, ‘Saint Jack’, as a lens to re-visit the Singapore’s landscapes during the post-independence period. Based on a similarly titled novel by Paul Theroux, the film was subsequently banned locally as the authority deemed that it had put Singapore in a negative light. It remains, however, as the only Hollywood movie to be shot completely in Singapore. The movie, set in the volatile year of 1968 when the Vietnam War was at its height, tells the story of an American ‘expatriate’ who dreams of opening a bordello in Singapore and becomes the island’s most successful pimp. Shot without a valid consent from the Singapore’s Ministry of Culture, the movie offers some precious glimpses into the seedier part of the city-state during that repressed era. It was also during this time Singapore served as one of the destinations for the US military rest and recreation (R&R) programme. As a young nation fledging for survivals in a turbulent age without any natural resources, Singapore must embraced and be attached to a bigger force, or ‘it could shrink and maybe even be absorbed by a larger country and thus die,’ as put by Lee Kuan Yew in his memoir. As such, the government chose to establish and maintain a close relationship with the United States. The coming in of Americans not only brought about the Singapore’s economy success that we witnessed many years later, it has also resulted in cultural assimilation in the city-state: the Americanisation of Singapore. Not wanting to be seen as America’s petty “pet” country, it is hypothesised that Singapore embarked on an effort to repress this part of the history in order to portray the imagery of a young and independent country that is free of the Western forces and influence. This was achieved by its national-identity building programme which saw the crack down on “Yellow Culture” as well as the incarnation of strict discipline amongst its people. Notwithstanding, the repressive policies have also formed a protective shield for Americanisation to flourish in Singapore in disguise. The imposition of repressive policies is thus seen as a manipulation for the Singapore government to achieve its national agendas.
URI: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/220329
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