Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hard to forget - Japanese Occupation 1942

31 Mar 2012

'My grandfather was in the middle of dinner with his family when he was taken away. My grandmother never spoke again.'

MADAM TAN ENG LIAN: 'Mr Liew Kai Khiun asks for a more balanced perspective about the Japanese Occupation ('Let's not remain stuck in teaching a one-sided view of a cruel Japan'; Tuesday). My grandfather was in the middle of dinner with his family when he was taken away by Japanese soldiers in a truck. He assured his family he would return. That was the last my family saw of him. The soldiers took him and all the men from the row of shophouses in Kampong Bahru Road where we lived to Changi. They were made to dig their own graves, bayoneted and buried. Many Singaporeans lost their fathers and grandfathers that evening. My grandmother lost her mind, and never spoke again. Please tell me how we can forget? My grandfather's fate will be repeated to our children, their children and their children's children, and for as long as our family line survives.'

[I presume the writer meant to say that the grandfather's manner of death will be narrated to the generations to come, rather than that his "fate" would be "repeated" which would mean that the children would be killed in the same manner. But this is not a rant about grammar. And I wouldn't rant about a painful injustice in the past.

My question in all sincerity and sensitivity is this: and what is the message that you will convey together with the narrative of your grandfather's murder by the Japanese army in 1942 (or thereabouts)? That Japanese are cruel people? That your children should hate them, now and for all time? That your children should never forget and never forgive the Japanese for the atrocities they committed on the people of SG and in particular their ancestor? That the Japanese today are as complicit in the atrocities of 1942? What is your children to do with this information? What will you have them do?]

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