Photo source: Upper Secondary Social Studies - Express/Normal (Academic)
A passage in a new social studies textbook for upper secondary students about the 2013 Little India riot, has raised eyebrows among netizens, with some accusing authorities of simplifying or even whitewashing the incident.
On 8 Dec, 2013, some 400 foreign workers of mainly South Asian origin rioted over the accidental death of a fellow worker. Fifty-four police officers and other first responders were injured in the ensuing mayhem, and more than $530,000 worth of government property damaged.
It was the first riot in Singapore in more than 40 years.
“What a rosy look at the Little India Riot.”
The new social studies textbook is divided into three broad themes: Exploring Citizenship and Governance, Living in a Diverse Society and Being Part of a Globalized World, followed by a Skills Chapter.
It includes discussions of hot-button issues such as the Little India incident, which is discussed in a chapter titled “How Can We Work for the Good of Society?”, under the theme of Exploring Citizenship and Governance. It is presented as “one example of the government maintaining the internal order of Singapore”, and comes after an explanation of how internal and external security are maintained by various agencies in Singapore.
The passage notes, “Within minutes, the Police Force was informed of the road accident and the Civil Defence Force was activated. When some members of the public in the area became rowdy, the Special Operations Command (SOC) was activated. After the arrival of the SOC, the crowd dispersed and suspected rioters were arrested.”
Prominent blogger mrbrown was among the most critical of the passage, commenting dryly on social media on 7 January, “What a rosy look at events like the Little India Riot in our new textbooks for kids.” Other netizens like Colin Chee lamented in a Facebook comment, “They continue to publish material that gives children the 1 out of 360 degree perspective of things and then tell the public that they aim to broaden the children’s minds to see things differently.“
Discussion questions that follow the Little India passage. Photo source: Upper Secondary Social Studies - Express/Normal (Academic)
Students, historian critical of new syllabus
Students and a historian that Yahoo Singapore spoke to questioned the portrayal of the incident. Final-year polytechnic student Nurul Nadhirah, 21, who took social studies back in 2012, says, “I feel like they touched more on the government’s response, rather than what actually happened. The passage itself keeps saying how the government did this and that.”
Her course mate Belle Sim, who majors in creative writing for television and new media and is also 21, adds, “As I read it, I feel very underwhelmed by it — it feels like a super small incident. It’s as if they know that they can’t not include it in a textbook, but at the same time, they don’t want people to read too much into it.”
Sim is uncomfortable with the placement of the incident in the text, noting, “One detail you cannot escape when you talk about the Little India riot is race. But why don’t they want to talk about race? Why is it that, even though we live in a racially harmonious society, we can’t talk about race?”
The changes is for purpose of carfying out ruling party's propaganda. All benefits to them. Despicable to use textbooks to brainwash teens. They even complain about locals complain in the textbooks, this pure brainwashing to badmouth locals to make students think negatively of locals. Their complaints about locals, badmouthing locals, verbal abuse is ongoing . . . . . . All these thanks to small mind, super small gas lee hsien loong.
Wow... Eye-opening post. Didn't know they would censor the Riots until like that... Not sure what they hope to achieve by doing this.
SRQ does sound way different than SEQ since SEQ is mostly memorizing and blurting the facts :/ My sec school, all our seniors said that SS is a subject which you can just get the basic main points and then bs which usually works so it's easy to score.. that's the advantage but the advantage of SRQ is that you can no longer just copy and paste and you will actually use your brains i guess :P
And for the new content, i think it's common where they want things to be portrayed in a good way like the methods used by Hitler / Stalin (?) although learning everything in depth and knowing the truth is more exciting and infformative