repost: Syed Alwi (Little India) Tourist information, an illustration of fascist racism

When I first came across this sign about a year ago - and to which I've alluded to in this site intermittently - I was thoroughly taken aback. I kept silent and directed a couple of local Chinese mates whom were with me to take a look at it. After they had read through it, I asked them what they thought about it and if they saw anything amiss. They looked at me as if wondering why I would ask such a question. I smiled, and asked, "What place is this?" "Little India", they responded. "And the information here is about whom?" After a few seconds, as the British would say, 'the pin dropped', and they got it.

I've often said a decade ago, that the other ethnic groups became persona non grata the moment the government stated that singapore must always have a Chinese majority. With the SAP school system, the 'speak mandarin it's cool' and 'appreciate chinese culture' campaigns, the Chingay festival amongst others that elevated one culture and 'race' above all, and a host of other examples, ethnic groups would soon become non persona. That was what I said back in '93. I'll leave it at that, and let the pictures do the summation.

[click image for larger view]

Sign reads,

“First Chinese settlement at Syed Alwi Road, c. 1930 (collection of Mr. Ong Cheng Hoe, courtesy of National Archives of Singapore)

This road was originally named Syed Allie Road, after Syed Allie bin Mahomed Al Junied, a prominent Arab merchant in the nineteenth century. It was later renamed Syed Alwi after his son.

The first members of the Chinese community in Little India dwelled amongst the Indians on Syed Alwi Road. To the Chinese, the road was known as “the street beside the abattoirs”, referring to the cattle and sheep slaughterhouses that once filled the area. The Chinese in Little India settled near Syed Alwi Road because its naturally swampy terrain favoured vegetable cultivation, the community’s mainstay activity. As the area became urbanised, the Chinese farmers converted their attap huts into shophouses, a number of which still stand today. Their architecture is an eclectic mixture of Chinese, European and Malay elements, which let it to being known as the Chinese Baroque.

The Chinese lived peacefully on Syed Alwi Road until the Japanese Occupation (1942-5). Under the Japanese, they were rounded up and held captive in a nearby sawmill under cramped and filthy conditions. From this group of prisoners, the Japanese singled out those who were volunteers with the British Forces. These unfortunate men were taken away and never seen again.

For a more representative history:


This isn't a problem. It's a symptom of a more pervasive malaise.  Ask yourself to what degree this is illustrated in a host of instances.  This is not just one amongst many instances, but the result of many instances.  Racism and chinese self-absorption has to be really entrenched before such a sign can be produced, and pass unnoticed...even by 'friends'. Finally, this is not an effort to stir up racial hatred, but to address the causes of racial hatred.



    Thanks for the enlightenment , bro!
    Hope the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board(STPB)would realise the error and make amendments to the message.
    In China Town the Indian Temple was built during the time of Raffles I believe.How did an Indian Temple end up in China Town?It was because there were many Indians working and living there.In places such as the Singapore Harbour Board, now PSA and as Rickshaw Wallah, Money Changers and Money Lenders(Chettiars). They used to rent these Rickshaws from a rich Indian. His office and Rickshaw wallah Association
    building still stands, at the junction of Maxwell Rd. and Neil Rd. The big words
    'RIKSHAW WELLAH' in cemented words are still prominently visible above the entrance, facing Neil rd.Today it's a KTV Club.Am not sure if it's a gazetted building.

  2. Thanks for the info Anon.(perhaps you could slot in a pseudonym the next time you drop by.)

    That's a very interesting analysis - an Indian Temple in China Town and how this might indicate the pervasive presence of Indians in that area.

    I alluded to this sign some time ago in a couple of article. I was quite taken aback when I saw it as, being trained in the art of Egalitarian multiculturalism through the UK and Indian experience, I reflexively baulked.

    It must take extremely deep-rooted fascist racism for such a signboard to be produced. The people in singapore ought to really extricate themselves from the mire of self-absorption and study how this is pursued in the UK amongst others, as opposed to taking on a 'they are they and we are we' attitude as and when it does not benefit the majority. I don't see this attitude stopping them from buying western technology or the latest Ipod, or the so-called opposition hankering after 'western-style' democracy. One has to wonder why they tend to leave out the egalitarian multicultural bit when copying the west.

    Anyway, after highlighting this signboard in previous articles, I found that the sign has been taken away pending replacement yesterday. Perhaps the relevant authorities have been reading my articles, or maybe just a coincidence. Well, we'll see what it is replaced by.

    One must keep in mind that in a Confucian state, the top tend to take ideas from the masses on the sly so that they can continue to maintain their status as 'know it alls'. The same applies to the government as it does to the opposition, bloggers, etc.

    Thanks for dropping by and putting in a thought bro. The fact that no locals place comments for articles published here that push for egalitarian multiculturalism further validates my indictment of the mass of the people as 'fascist and racist twits' regardless of race - and this is even more so since this is the only site in singapore that dissects this issue incisively. Given this, we shouldn't be surprised at the Syed Alwi signboard should we. Soo Jenn, in the previous comment, amongst others, ought to learn to notice the indicators.

  3. Sorry unable to include pseudonym now, as am in a hurry and hassle of registering. This option is easier.
    I have always found your articles interesting and an eye opener. Well done bro!
    For your info there is also another small Indian Temple along Keong Siak St, facing Oriental Plaza in Kerata Ayer rd. It is very popular with Indians and Chinese. The Sri Mariaman Temple in South Bridge Rd, was built by
    Mr. Narayan, who was than an aide and advisor to Sir Stamford Raffles. Mr. Narayan represented the Early Indians in the Indian Area, which is now China Town. After the Indians moved inwards to Serangoon Rd. These were stories mentioned by several of our parents to great-great parents, who were active in the now China Town area. Other interesting places are like 'Kadayanallur' St, beside Maxwell Rd Market.Named after this 'Good Shopkeeper' as the name is translated. Majid Jamae Chulia Mosque in Mosque St built by the Chulia Indian Immigrants then.In the historical Telok Ayer St. one would notice the Al Abrar Mosque and the Nagore Durgha Shrine on both sides of the Thian Hock Keng Temple.
    Along Martin Rd. after River Valley Close, near Singapore River there are three roads named after prominent Indian Traders dealing in Warehousing and Shipping. As there were several Warehouses located in that area. The three roads mentioned are Muturaman Chetty Rd, Narayanan Chetty Rd, and Arncalam Chetty Rd.

  4. Most interesting historical information.

    Perhaps, if you've got the time, you could do articles compiling such information on Little India or Indian history in singapore as it is already being wiped away by those who seem adamant about turning this into a Chinese state where others are merely props or simply 'incidental'.

    With the apathy and self-absorption of the majority of the people, and the ensuing dilution and loss of the unique sense and culture of the rest with the passage of time, this seems to be unstoppable. But at least, the egalitarian multiculturalists can put down a record of reality as was even if it is never to be again. A2ed will certainly publish it. And perhaps, a similar project with regards to the Malays/Peranakans/Eurasians/Sikhs/Parsis/amongst others if you or others you know have the time.

    Just for your information Anon, you don't have to register to include a pseudonym.

    You just have to pick the 'name/url' option. You don't have to include a 'url'. Or, you could just sign off on your comment with a pseudonym at the bottom. The reason for this request is to distinguish yourself from other 'anonymous' commentators. If there are a few 'anonymous' commentators on an article, other readers might have trouble following the discussion and making references.


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