Will the Syonan Gallery by any other name be just as fought about?
Singaporeans are arguing over yet another monument’s name.
The new exhibition at the Old Ford Factory, named Syonan Gallery, has left netizens scratching their heads, wondering if its name is appropriate.
Netizens have been debating over the name of the new Syonan Gallery, which sits on the revamped World War II memorial space at the Old Ford Factory.
During the Japanese occupation, Singapore was renamed “Syonan-to” (“Light of the South” in Japanese) in 1942.
The Syonan Gallery feature artefacts from the war, and hopes to educate visitors about the Japanese occupation. The exhibition, which opened its doors yesterday, received public outcry over its the name since Feb 13, resulting in a new sign that reflected its full name, “Syonan Gallery: War and its Legacies, An Exhibition at Former Ford Factory”.
He said: “The exhibition remembers what our forefathers went through, commemorates the generation of Singaporeans who experienced the occupation, and reaffirms our collective commitment never to let this happen again.”
Following strong reactions from the public, Dr Yaacob apologised and announced yesterday evening that the name of the World War II exhibition will now be changed to ‘Surviving the Japanese Occupation: War and its Legacies’.
Despite these changes, some netizens are still unsatisfied. They felt that the name of the exhibition trivialises the pain and suffering experienced by Singaporeans to survive during the war.
Ysabel Aluqinn, 21, a Ngee Ann Polytechnic student, said: “Even though I wasn’t a part of the war, if something that traumatic happened to me, I’d be slightly triggered if I saw that they’d made a whole exhibition on the pain and suffering I experienced during that time.”
She added: “The huge sign is like a constant reminder of the past that [those who lived through the war] might be still scarred by.”
On the other hand, others felt that the naming of the museum is apt as it only describes the artefacts that will be shown in the museum.
Jolene Abelarde, 20, a writer, said: “Honestly, this argument is really trivial. The name of the gallery seeks to show the unbiased truth of what happened during that time.”
She added: “For future generations, this will be how we learn about the past, and changing the name [of the gallery] will not change the suffering that the generations before us had to go through.”
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