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Distributed for National University of Singapore Press

War Memory and the Making of Modern Malaysia and Singapore

Singapore fell to Japanese forces on 15 February 1942. Within a matter of days, the occupying army took prisoner more than 100,000 British, Australian and Indian soldiers, and massacred thousands of Chinese civilians. A resistance movement formed in Malaya’s jungle-covered mountains, but the vast majority of people could do little but resign themselves to life under Japanese rule. The Occupation of Malaya would last three and a half years, until the British returned in September 1945. How is this period remembered? And how have individuals, communities, and states shaped and reshaped collections in the post-war era as the events of the time slipped out of living memory? This volume uses observations gathered from members of various communities involved in or affected by the conflict -- Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians, British and Australians to respond to these questions. Its young women who flocked to the Japanese-sponsored Indian National Army, hoping to march on Delhi. The authors also draw on other forms of memory, including the soaring pillars of Singapore’s Civilian War Memorial and traditional Chinese cemeteries in Malaysia. In preparing this volume, the authors have reinserted previously marginalized or self-censored voices back into the story in a way that allows them to reflect on the nature of conflict and memory. Moreover, these voices speak of the searing transit from war and massacre through resistance and decolonization to the molding of postcolonial state and identities.

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Table of Contents

Plates & Maps
Note on Spellings
Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 Personal Narratives of British Defeat and Japanese Occupation
Chapter 3 The European Prisoner of War as Hero and Victim
Chapter 4 The Chinese War Hero
Chapter 5 Chinese Victimhood
Chapter 6 Indian Nationalism and Suffering
Chapter 7 Malay Warriors and Pemuda
Chapter 8 Malay Victims
Nations and States
Chapter 9 Memory and Nation-Building in Malaysia
Chapter 10 Memory and Nation-Building in Singapore
Chapter 11 Conclusion

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