Ngiam Tong-Fatt’s Essays Provide Great Insight into Mid-Twentieth Century Southeast Asia

Map of the Malay Peninsula

│By Rebecca Chiew, Associate Editor with the Gale Asia Publishing Team

Ngiam Tong-fatt (嚴崇發 1917–?) was an overseas Chinese living in Singapore in the early and mid-twentieth century. He worked as a correspondent based in Singapore in the 1940s for The China Critic (中國評論週報, 1928–1946), a weekly periodical founded on May 31, 1928 by a group of Chinese intellectuals who had studied in the United States. Despite the editors’ avowed preference for “nonpolitical” discourse, The China Critic’s editorials and articles frequently discussed the presence of imperialism in Shanghai, debated the abolition of extraterritoriality, and advocated equal access to public facilities in the concessions. The editors also participated in wider-ranging discussions about urban affairs.

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Who is the Founder of Modern Singapore?

By Vanessa Tan, Editorial Assistant with Gale Asia
Hi! My name is Vanessa and I’m currently working as an Editorial Assistant in Gale’s Asia team. Prior to this, I read English Literature at the Nanyang Technological University, where I took an interest in Modernism and Asian Studies. Outside of working hours, you may catch me obsessing over a Kubrick/Linklater film while chowing down all types of ice cream to fight Singapore’s everlasting summer.

In 2019, Singapore will commemorate her bicentenary since the landing of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781–1826) on the island on 28 January 1819. Raffles’ name now stretches beyond the widely known narrative of the nation-state’s genesis. Today, the name carries pomp and prestige—Raffles City and Raffles Hotel are both prominent landmarks situated in the richest areas of Singapore, while Raffles Institution remains the highest-ranked secondary educational institution in the country, having produced many of the country’s top-performing scholars and politicians.

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Western Books on Southeast Asia Collection

By Gregory Green, Curator of the John M. Echols Collection on Southeast Asia, Cornell University Library

The Gale Archives Unbound collection titled Western Books on Southeast Asia brings together nearly three hundred years of writings by travellers from Europe to Southeast Asia.  These publications range from official reports of government sponsored expeditions to personal journals of people travelling through the region on business or pleasure.  With that variety, one can expect to find a wide range of observations in the collection.  Much of the information is quite accurate, while a large amount is based on misunderstandings of what people were seeing, or in other ways, simply incorrect.  Whether accurate or not, the collection provides a clear view of how Southeast Asia was seen during this period of time by Western eyes.

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