New exhibition on Peranakans who contributed to Singapore

New exhibition on Peranakans who contributed to Singapore

Opening on May 23, the exhibition showcases 50 distinguished Peranakans - including the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, his wife, Madam Kwa Geok Choo, as well as Singapore's first Chinese female doctor Lee Choo Neo.

SINGAPORE: The late Mr Lee Kuan Yew is one of 50 Peranakans honoured in a new exhibition for contributions to Singapore's development. The exhibition starts at the Peranakan Museum on Saturday (May 23) and will run until April 3 next year.

Called Great Peranakans: Fifty Remarkable Lives, the exhibition highlights those who made their mark in areas from art and education, to business and public service. A Peranakan is a blend of two cultures, where the people are Chinese but their culture and language is predominantly Malay-influenced.

One highlight of the exhibition is an oil painting of the swearing-in of Mr Lee as Singapore's first prime minister. Other Peranakans recognised include founder of the Tan clan temple, Mr Tan Beng Swee and the leading sugar producer in the Dutch East Indies, Mr Oei Tiong Ham.

The group of 50 also includes women like the late Madam Kwa Geok Choo, wife of Mr Lee. Her barrista wig is on display to represent her achievements as a lawyer. Madam Kwa was the first woman from Malaya to graduate with a first class honours at the University of Cambridge, who also drafted the Women's Charter.

Others include Singapore's first Chinese female doctor Lee Choo Neo and the first woman to win the Queen's Scholarship, Ms Maggie Lim.

More than 200 objects are on display, including furniture, personal belongings, rare portraits and handwritten letters. The exhibition is presented across three historical periods - when pioneers settled in between 1819 and 1889, when Singapore was developing into a city between 1890 and 1945, and from 1945 to 1965, the period when Singapore was a nation growing into independence.

It will also be the first exhibition to be featured on the Google Cultural Institute - a virtual museum that brings together collections from around the world.

"There are many different ways of telling Singapore's history,” said Dr Alan Chong, director at the Asian Civilisations Museum and Peranakan Museum. “Peranakan Museum celebrates Singapore's 50th anniversary by looking at how Peranakans really contributed to Singapore's history, by building the community, by supporting public institutions, and finally becoming important politicians."

Source: CNA/hs