Home/ Pressroom/ News + Stories

Pressroom

News + Stories

When I opened the exhibition “Syonan Gallery: War and Its Legacies” on Wednesday, I explained that we had designed this exhibition to capture the dark days of the Japanese Occupation, and remind ourselves never to take for granted our peace, harmony and sovereignty. 


2 Far from expressing approval of the Japanese Occupation, our intention was to remember what our forefathers went through, commemorate the generation of Singaporeans who experienced the Japanese Occupation, and reaffirm our collective commitment never to let this happen again.


3 The name of the exhibition reflected the time in our history when Singapore was forcibly renamed “Syonan”. We have used the word “Syonan” before to factually describe this difficult period. For instance, in 1992, for the 50thAnniversary of the Fall of Singapore, we held an exhibition at the National Museum, titled “When Singapore was Syonan-to”. 


4 But this particular exhibition name provoked a strong reaction. Over the past two days, I have read the comments made on this issue, and received many letters from Singaporeans of all races. While they agreed that we need to teach Singaporeans about the Japanese Occupation, they also shared that the words “Syonan Gallery” had evoked deep hurt in them, as well as their parents and grandparents. This was never our intention, and I am sorry for the pain the name has caused.


5 I have reflected deeply on what I heard. We must honour and respect the feelings of those who suffered terribly and lost family members during the Japanese Occupation. I have therefore decided to remove the words “Syonan Gallery” from the name of the exhibition, and name it “Surviving the Japanese Occupation: War and its Legacies”. 


6 The contents of the exhibition remain unchanged. They capture a painful and tragic period in our history which we must never forget, and which we must educate our young about. It is vital for us to learn the lessons of history, and reaffirm our commitment never to let this happen to Singapore again.


Response by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, at the Committee of Supply Debate on 6 Mar 2018 Parliament QAs, Speeches Infocomm Media 06 Mar 18
Speech by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information at the inaugural United Arab Emirates Cultural Day on 2 March 2018 (Friday), at 11.20am, at The Plaza, National Library Building Speeches Public Comms 02 Mar 18
MCI's response to PQ on Gov.sg's Factually website Parliament QAs Public Comms 28 Feb 18
MCI's response to PQ on SingPost Parliament QAs Infocomm Media 27 Feb 18
Speech by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, at the inaugural Cybersecurity Awards and Gala Dinner 2018 on 23 February 2018, 7.30pm at Suntec City Convention Centre Speeches Cyber Security 23 Feb 18
MCI’s response to PQ on the broadcast rights for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Parliament QAs Infocomm Media 19 Feb 18