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    Apr 15, 2016

    Fu: NHB has no 'official' version of local history

    SINGAPORE'S history is objectively presented, and no "standard" or "official" account is imposed, said Minister of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) Grace Fu.

    Speaking in Parliament yesterday during the debate on her ministry's budget, she added that the National Heritage Board is "open and consultative" in its curation of history, and invites visitors "to examine different perspectives and engage in critical thinking".

    She was responding to Low Thia Khiang (Aljunied GRC), who had called for NHB exhibitions to present different interpretations of Singapore's history to encourage critical thinking and educate citizens.

    "It is time we move away from representations of a 'standard' or 'official' history," he said.

    The Workers' Party chief said that while learning Singapore history contributes to having a stronger national identity, this can be achieved only if history is presented in a manner that encourages students to consider multiple perspectives and think critically.

    "This will also reduce students' and parents' perceptions of using history as government propaganda," he added.

    Citing the recently launched Parliament in Singapore History exhibition at The Arts House, Mr Low said it could present different interpretations from the perspectives of pioneer statesmen, ruling party backbenchers, opposition party members, women members and minority members.

    In response, Ms Fu said these groups were represented in the visuals and text of the exhibition. She gave the example of how opposition veteran Chiam See Tong's quote on being an opposition party member in Parliament was prominently highlighted.

    She also brought up examples from the National Museum's Singapore History Gallery, which has a showcase displaying published political material leading up to the 1962 Referendum on Merger with the Federation of Malaya.

    This showcase presents two alternative political perspectives published at the time, Ms Fu said.

    She added that NHB "draws widely on local and international experts in curating exhibitions".

    She said: "In particular on Singapore history, the National Museum is advised by senior historians from our universities who are acknowledged in their fields."