Saturday, November 22, 2014

Singaporeans must make way for the Angsanas



The Angsanas are well known as instant trees in the island. They are planted everywhere as stop gap measures when instant trees are needed. They have good foliage and provide good shade under the hot sun. Superficially they looked good too. But they also snapped or get uprooted quite easily under strong wings. Maybe it is their nature, or maybe they are just instant trees with shallow roots. Unlike the hardy local trees that could withstand strong winds with their deep roots, the Angsanas would always be Angsanas. They will snap or get uprooted.

What is disturbing is a piece of news this morning about two old schools, Griffiths and Qiaonan, that have to make way for Angsana. The two schools with a combined history of 145 years, with many histories and old boys and girls who were proud to be students of the schools, would have their memories wiped clean, all because someone decided that Angsana should replaced them as the name for the new school, but devoid of any history except the fame instant tree image.

Why would the decision makers choose to have something new and nothing exceptional to replace our heritage? And why would the MOE and the Singapore Heirtage Board allowed it to happen? Aren’t they the public institutions and guardians that believed in our history and heritage? Are these people obsessed with the Angsanas? Or is there a message that they are sending out, Angsanas are good and should replace the locals?

The old boys and girls and teachers are all perplexed. They have all the good reasons to want to preserve the names of the two schools. They protested. Why would they want to replace the names of their schools with something like Angsanas? It reminds me of the fetish fad of replacing the PMEs with their wealth of experience with unknown elements from overseas.

There are a lot of sentiments involved. This is our history. This is very sad. Our past and memories are wiped out, no more, by this na├»ve and simplistic decision. The old boys and girls just want something to remember, their past, the times they spent in the schools, their alma maters. Why can’t the new school be called Qiaonan Griffiths to give it some history and a link to its past golden days? Qiaonan and Griffiths anytime sound better than this thing called Angsana. And one of the criteria of the Schools Naming Committee is whether the name resonates with the community? You mean Angsana resonates with the community better than Qiaonan and Griffiths?

And this Angsana Primary School is supposed to build on the histories of Qiaonan and Griffiths! What have they been smoking? Maybe Angsana resonates with the national policies of bringing more instant citizens into the country. Every Angsana, every instant tree, is a treasure, a talent, better than the locals or the Qiaonans and the Griffiths. It is better to do away with Qiaonan and Griffiths and glorify the new future of Angsanas.