The Hopelessness of a Humanities Education

The road less traveled is a lie. If you are reading this, you are either a humanities student yourself, or you came here to gloat and to confirm what you’ve always suspected about those students who have too much time on their hands, doing their “readings”. Or maybe not, since binaries are always so deceptive. […]

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Nature Condensed III: Confidence & Complications

At the polar bear enclosure in the Singapore Zoo, 26 December 1990 was supposed to have been a routine day.  Sheba, the first resident polar bear of the Singapore Zoo, had last been seen swimming nonchalantly in the enclosure’s pool the day before. Aside from the stereotypical behaviour characteristic of polar bears confined in small […]

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Nature Condensed II: Ah Meng & the Primates

It was getting dark at MacRitchie Reservoir. A large crowd had gathered, because Singaporeans usually enjoy a spectacle. At sunset on 31 March, 1982, a 102kg orangutan fell from a 25-metre tree, and fractured her left arm. The fall ended a three-day long episode at the reservoir involving the sudden escape of Ah Meng, Singapore’s […]

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Nature Condensed I: The Singapore Zoo Opens

In the early hours of 7 March 1973, a three-year old panther, slipped through the bars of its locked enclosure in the Singapore Zoological Gardens, beginning an eleven-month exile in the forests of the Seletar Reservoir. The escape captivated the imagination of a young nation on the eve of the zoo’s opening.[1] How? How did […]

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Animals of the Everyday: Encounters and Experiences in 1930 Singapore

On the morning of 7 October 1930, three Chinese women rubber tappers working on “Puloe Tekong” were badly mauled by a “wild beast”, which was either a bear, or an “unusually large” black panther. A European resident on the island later said that he had seen a panther swimming to the island from Johore several […]

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Other Singapore Stories

What does the history of a Zoological Garden have to do with the history of a Garden City? Over the course of the past months and weeks, several of my friends have been asking to read excerpts of the Honours Thesis which I have written. While I am deeply flattered by the attention, I cannot […]

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The Little Stories in a Surrender

​​74 years and several hours ago, Lieutenant General A.E. Percival and his staff, exhausted, spent and broken, conceded Singapore to the forceful and brilliant General Tomoyuki Yamashita, after a breathtaking campaign that was supposed to have lasted 100 days, but took only 70.  The “impregnable fortress” is a rather ripe term for the British to […]

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