Photo of Syonan Gallery from CNA

Relatives of WW2 dead are opposing the Singapore government’s recent naming of a new museum, Syonan Gallery. The voices raised in objection to the naming said that the use of Singapore’s name during the 3 years Japanese regime, Syonan To, honour the brutal war crimes of the Japanese military.

Propaganda Minister under the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) Yaacob Ibrahim spoke at Syonan Gallery’s opening expressing his disagreement with the opposition:

“It remembers what our forefathers went through, commemorates the generation of Singaporeans who experienced the occupation and reaffirms our collective commitment never to let this happen again. The period when Singapore was Syonan-to was an epochal event in its history. The gallery reminds Singaporeans on the importance of defending the sovereignty of their country. During the Japanese Occupation, Singapore lost not only our freedom, but also our name. For those of us who lived through this period, this brings back many raw and painful memories. For our young, it is a sombre reminder that we must never forget.”

Government ambassador-at-large Bilahari Kausikan seconded the Minister referring that the naming of Raffles Place would have meant endorsing colonialism.

“This is a controversy over nothing if people will only realise that to remember is not necessarily to honour. Calling it the Syonan Gallery no more honours that period of our history than Raffles Place honours colonialism.”