Name: Tan Yun Hao, Alson
School: Nanyang Technological University
Army Museum of Singapore- “Birth of Our Army-From the Flames of Riots and Bombings” Exhibit
Why is Army Museum of Singapore important to the state?
Dr Goh Keng Swee, father of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) once said, "We must never forget that our existence as an independent sovereign state cannot be made to depend on the sufferance of others." (S.Quek, 2010). With this single statement, he was able to reiterate the importance of having a national army to defend Singapore. Since the British shocking defeat of “impregnable fortress Singapore” to the Japanese during World War Two, foreign supremacy was immediately dispelled and Singapore no longer rely on foreign protection after her independence from Malaysia. Instead, there was a strong national sentiment to build a strong army to defend Singapore from internal and external threats so that her survival will never be again be determined in the hands of foreigners. Therefore, this essay aims to examine the hidden messages in this exhibit, which are reasons for the development of a national army and how the SAF’s presence during the 1964 Racial Riots was a clear indication of its importance in maintaining peace and stability, especially at a time of regional conflict and domestic strife.
By collecting and displaying old artifacts, The Army Museum of Singapore (ARMS) serves not only as a part of a national education paradigm, ARMS also provide a sense of national identity to Singaporeans as it is a reminder of our shared struggles in history. It is a symbol of the level of commitment and sacrifice of the SAF throughout its history. Also, it serves to preserve the SAF military heritage which is an “an intrinsic part of Singapore’s own heritage” as the National Service responsibility of every able-bodied male Singaporean, has influential impacts on society (Dr A.Lau, 2011). Essentially, it is an important reminder and a symbolic tribute to all SAF servicemen for their sacrifice and the arduous training exercises that they had to undergo for the sake of the protection of national sovereignty.
Figure [ 1 ]: SAF Mission Figure [ 2 ]: SAF Soldier
Layout of the Exhibit and the Argument
The first ARMS display that catches the attention of visitors immediately is the large SAF Code of Arms plaque with the SAF Mission inscribed on the wall (Fig 1 & 2). The purpose is to invoke a sense of national pride within visitors and provide reassurance of the SAF commitment to the protection of Singapore. The mission “to enhance Singapore’s peace and security through deterrence and diplomacy and should these fail, to secure a swift and decisive victory over the aggressor” shows the presence of an established well-trained and determined army, which is highly motivated to defend national sovereignty (MINDEF Public Affairs, 2002). As the first display to greet visitors, the effect of placing the large plaque and SAF Mission at the entrance will be impactful, as visitors will immediately understand the rationale for the development of the Singapore army.
Also, next to the SAF Code of Arms plaque, there are 40 monitors aligned next to each other as seen in Fig. 3, which show several different footages of different units in the SAF such as, the Infantry, Artillery, Armor, Signal, Commandos, Guards, Military Police, Regimental Police and Logistics. The aim is to create awe from visitors as it uses professional footages to demonstrate high level of proficiency from the Singapore army and the possession of state-of-the-art technologies of military equipment that can deter a potentially larger threat. This form of media works like a SAF recruitment advertisement. It uses the appeal factor of commercialization and transform “awe” into...
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