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 […]Read more "Nature Condensed III: Confidence & Complications"
Do Singaporeans have belly-buttons? Not so long ago, there used to be a theorist of the nation, and his name was Ernest Gellner. He is said to have famously and provocatively asked the same question about nations: do nations have belly-buttons? By which he meant: do nations have a single, traceable origin? Are nations born? Where […]Read more "What is a Singaporean?"
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 […]Read more "Nature Condensed II: Ah Meng & the Primates"
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. How? How did […]Read more "Nature Condensed I: The Singapore Zoo Opens"
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 […]Read more "Animals of the Everyday: Encounters and Experiences in 1930 Singapore"
I never wanted to major in History. Preamble Sure, it was fun to read about wars and aeroplanes in books. I first learnt about the Cold War through the various cool jet fighters I was crazy about as a child. I first encountered jet fighters through the World War Two fighter planes in a comic […]Read more "How I Became a History Major"
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 […]Read more "Other Singapore Stories"