Photographs taken by
Khoo Yi Feng
Photographs taken by
Khoo Yi Feng
This trip to the Indonesian Embassy was organized by Dr Effendy, main coordinator of the Southeast Asia in Context Summer School, who thought that a trip to the embassy would be a useful experience as students would not only get more information about Indonesian culture and society, but would also allow Southeast Asian Studies majors to get a glimpse of the inner workings of embassies and the role that embassies play in the region.
As we entered the Embassy, it was not quite what I had expected. The hall beside the entrance was furnished with a variety of performing arts artefacts, giving one the sense that the place was as much a cultural representative of Indonesia’s presence in Singapore, even as it was a political space. There were no starkly professional, official interiors, but instead, markers of tradition everywhere. In a sense, it felt almost homely. I thought it interesting that Indonesia’s self-identity and its portrayal of itself to the others was such a benign yet culturally rich image. As a political science student, my knowledge on this aspect of Indonesia is limited. Yet, to see how much tradition, myth-making, and religion is a way of life and of being –- not just for the individual, but for the nation –- is intriguing. Would a Western embassy, for that matter, operate on more formal norms?
For example, a story was mentioned about how Indonesians take special precautions at Yogyakarta’s Parangtritis Beach to avoid the hauntings of spirits like the Queen of the South Sea. Similarly, the villagers living near Mount Merapi chose not to evacuate despite obvious danger because the volcano’s gatekeeper, Mbah Maridjan, had not. One gets the sense that the local reality shifts constantly between dimensions of secularity into religiosity, and tradition back into modernity. It was intriguing to see how contradicting concerns surface at different points in time to affect decisions. On that note, I found the embassy a unique institution where the two unlikely fields of politics and culture meet, meld together, and interact.
It was also interesting to me to see how the needs of the economy continue to foster the kind of fluidity that characterizes Southeast Asia. A point was raised about the extent of interdependence between Indonesia and Singapore’s economy. A display of this was the case where workers from a Singapore company working on a project in Indonesia, would likely be Indonesians themselves. Even though this scenario can probably be found all around the world, I thought it interesting especially since Southeast Asia has never had very rigid borders, and work and immigration are among the forces that keep this going today. The extent of this phenomenon is captured by the fact that economic ties are thick and complex; Singapore is the largest FDI investor to Indonesia, also because it is a portal for overseas investment to enter.
Furthermore, as Dr Ismunandar, the Education and Cultural Attaché, mentioned, the large size of the embassy grounds is supposed to reflect the two countries’ large area of shared mutual interest. Despite thorny issues like the haze and the MacDonald House bombing arising between the two countries, I thought that the large area of economic interdependence must be a major stabilizing factor in their bilateral ties.
We also learnt that a prominent social problem in Yogyakarta was youth drug and liquor abuse. Despite the increasing Islamization of Indonesia’s politics in recent years and according government crackdowns, it appeared that these conservative norms had yet to permeate the roots of local life.
Lastly, I was curious about how embassy workers might navigate their own national and cultural identity. One of the speakers, Pak Ramle Ismail explained that he was Singaporean, but that he often travelled, worked, and lived in Yogyakarta. He spoke their language well. His friends and networks were there, and locals mistook him for one of them. He did not get a chance to share how he had come to such a situation, but it made me wonder how one manages to incorporate two distinct cultures into a single identity, especially with deep roots in both. Does the mysticism of life in Yogyakarta create disjoint with the rationalized life in Singapore, with its neatly-categorized races and religions? What determines the dominant culture one prefers? How might such constant mobility breed feelings of displacement and perhaps fracture one’s sense of self-identity? Furthermore, as embassy workers, how do they see themselves personally? They might be full-time representatives of Indonesia, or yet another anonymous immigrant, or integrated into society here and yet never able to fully embrace it.
All in all, the visit was refreshing and challenged many of the expectations and misconceptions I had started out with. Although it would have been interesting to be able to explore other parts of the embassy, I am thankful still, for it being such a unique and thoughtful time.
By: Khoo Yi Feng
Edited by: Wee Min Er
On 13 March 2015, many parts came together to form a whole, the Southeast Asian Studies Society’s annual event, the Southeast Asian (SEA) Night 2015. Associate Professor Itty Abraham kicked off the event by asking the audience to question Singapore’s position in the Southeast Asian region. This question is especially timely since Singapore is celebrating its 50th birthday. In this jubilee year, the society was truly blessed with the strong support from the folks at SG50 and NUS110 for the SEA Night 2015. How do you see Singapore contributing to and benefiting from this region?
SEA Night 2015 came alive with Dr. Johnson Irving’s witty rendition of Nang Talung, a form of shadow puppetry popular in the Buddhist regions of Southern Thailand. Better known to students as Dr. J, the unorthodox, fun-loving, talented, creative and much loved SE1101E teacher added a contemporary twist. Amidst the traditional Thai music and dancing puppets, he injected jokes, peppering the dialogue with Singlish words and related the performance to the NUS context. It got the audience cracking up that set the tone for the night; it was a joyous and light-hearted night where our beloved lecturers, undergraduates and guests enjoyed the cultural feast.
Moving from Southern Thailand to Indonesia, the NUS Singa Nglaras Gamelan Ensemble graced the stage. With melodious beats and three traditional tunes, Dr. Jan Mrazek and Mr. Thow Xin Wei led the gamelan team to deliver a musical feast for the ears. Gamelan originated from Java and Bali and is made up mainly of percussive instruments. Any SEAsian show will not be complete without a gamelan performance. Pak Jan (as he is more affectionately known as by students) impressed the crowd with his serious devotion to the art.
Mr. Khaizuran Ahmad, the head of the Perguruan Seligi Tunggal Angkatan Singapura swooped into action next. Through the short 15 minutes stage time, he skillfully showcased the deadly but aesthetically refined Pencak Silat style of his school. Beginning with the demonstration of his trademark bunga-bunga, a set of movements, he opened the stage for his students, where Ms. Elina Lee demonstrated jurusan, another set of movements, before Di Di and Iryshed treated the audience to a visual feast of vigorous but carefully choreographed sparring. Just as we thought the exhilarating performance had winded to a satisfying close, a challenger appeared! Decked in Kendo armour, the Japanese samurai warrior, of the department's lecturer Dr. Effendy, stormed the stage to challenge Mr. Khaizuran, the Silat pendekar. A nail-biting battle ensued, neffendy-wrecking indeed! It ended in a draw between the two masters, suggesting that the duel might have "to be continued". Amidst the blood-curling kiai shouts and spectacular clashes, the audience was visibly enthralled. Some were even imitating the moves!
After an intense clash between two titans, the Department of Southeast Asia (SEAD)’s very own band, Crossroads, took to the stage and enchanted the audience with tunes from different SEAsian countries! One key person that brought the band together is definitely Dr. Arafat. As the Student Advisor of the Society, he led by example in scouting performers, coordinating practices and realizing the dream of having a SEA band. From a Thai folk song, to Indonesian pop star Shae’s “Sayang”, to Singaporean Indie band Shirley Nair and the Unexpected’s “You’re the Boy”, the audience grooved to the songs. The backstage crew even lip-synched and danced heartily along to the tunes! The major requirement of learning a new Southeast Asian language definitely helped in making this possible. Such is truly the talent, versatility and diversity that SEA majors celebrate!
Of course, any SEA night will not be complete without the beautiful ladies wearing the elegant Ao Dai from Vietnam! Blessed by the support by the Vietnamese Community in NUS (VNC NUS), the audience was treated to a Vietnamese special, the Non La Ao Dai Dance! It was an especially poignant moment since the Community was celebrating their 15th year anniversary. The dance transitions as the song, “Que Huong Ba Mien” by Quang Le, takes the audience from the North of Vietnam to the Central, then to the South. The song title signifies hometown in three regions, where the culture and accent changes as you would experience travelling through the country.
As the night was less young, the NUS Malay Studies Society (MSS) brought the event to a gentler pace with a poetry recital from three prolific Malay writers from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, namely; Mohammed Latiff Mohammed, Usman Awang and W.S. Rendra. SEASS appreciate the steadfast support by MSS! The SEAD look forward to more collaboration so as to learn more about the region together!
It was apt that SEA night ended with a poignant question of “What does Southeast Asian Studies mean to you?” posed to various parties by Graphics and Design Director Nadzirah Halim. She presented the responses in an entertaining video form. Through the video, the audience saw many parts come together to form one whole. While the SEAD's interests and intentions in studying this region may differ, one thing's for sure, we care about this region we call home. What about you? What does Southeast Asia mean to you? How can we contribute to the growth of this region?
The society is very grateful to all who took time out of their busy schedules to join us at this event, and we hope to see more of you in our SEA night next year!
By: Tse Siang Lim
It is said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. 10 years ago, I started the first semester of my undergraduate studies at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences here at NUS. I had always wanted to be an archaeologist since I was a kid, but archaeology is not offered as a major anywhere in Singapore; the closest proxies that I took among the list of first-year courses were three exposure modules - HY1101E: Asia and the Modern World, SC1101E: Making Sense of Society and SE1101E: Southeast Asia. A Changing Region. My training as a history major would eventually ground me in the skill of narration, while I was inducted on the importance of social theories in the understanding of human societies in my brief exposure to sociology; but it was my introduction (or rather, reintroduction as a Singaporean) to Southeast Asia that set me on the path to study the history and archaeology of this amazing region.
SE1101E really piqued my interest to study more about Southeast Asia, a region which I (and many other Singaporeans of my generation) knew or understood very little about. Through the course, I learnt about and came to appreciate the multitude of ethnic and cultural diversity reflected in the art, archaeology and histories of Southeast Asia, as well as the complex cultural interactions within the region and with the rest of the world. The recurring emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches to a wide variety of themes and ideas explored about the region opened my mind to new and exciting fields of study in academia. While the lectures stirred my increasing passion for the region, I was invigorated by the challenging discussions and engagements I had about various subjects in my tutorials with my tutor then, Dr Effendy, and my fellow classmates. This course prepared us for the academic rigor and expectations ahead as an undergraduate student, and in my case, postgraduate studies in the history and archaeology of Southeast Asia. This introductory, but fundamental course gave me the foundation to build upon a strong framework of analytical skills; skills which I’m still drawing upon as I embark on my PhD research in the archaeology of social complexity in Iron Age Cambodia and Mainland Southeast Asia.
More importantly perhaps, as I look back into the journey that I’ve made, SE1101E reinforced my own identity as a member of this fascinating region – a Southeast Asian-Singaporean – an identity that I hold very close to my heart since I moved to Australia three years ago. This identity continues to fuel my passion in Southeast Asian history and archaeology and will continue to drive me on this path of discovery for – hopefully – many years to come. It is said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. That step, for me, is definitely SE1101E.
Lim Tse Siang
School of Archaeology and Anthropology
Research School of Humanities and the Arts
College of Arts and Social Sciences
The Australian National University
By: Khoo Yi Feng
Edited by: Wee Min Er
Contemporary artists in Southeast Asia express themselves through the dynamic and versatile avenue of art. Such intriguing forms of expression calls for attention as it impresses others, and has become a force that cannot be repressed. Looking at Little India and Kampong Glam below, I know that Singapore is not an exception to this phenomenon in the region.
Step out of Little India MRT station, you will see colourful buffaloes greeting you (Cattleland, Eunice Lim, 2015). Walk along Kerbau Road and you will find an awkwardly displayed web made of raffia string resembling hammocks. These installations are part of the Little India Art Walk, courtesy of the Singapore Art Week 2015. Being a contemporary art lover, I always enthused over the intent rather than the content of such displays. My curiosity took me to a chat with a surveyor from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) who was on-site. Her sharing illuminated the contours of how the state can use contemporary art as a means to achieve its aims.
She asked, "What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Little India?" I fumbled with my words, throwing up good descriptives, due in part to the fact that the surveyor is an Indian. She stopped me midway through my "praise-singing", and simply said, "2013 Little India riot". Suddenly it all made sense. The state has a vested interest in changing perceptions of this heritage area through contemporary art. In the process of rebranding and managing the public's perception, contemporary art was ingenuously, covertly and conveniently used as a tool.
Stepping into the Malay Heritage Centre (MHC) in Kampong Glam, you see some exhibits (flying garbage bags) sticking out like sore thumbs amidst the landscape of this beautiful Istana. Exploring further, you will see MHC housing contemporary arts installations like the "Budi Daya" and those courtesy of the Singapore Art Week 2015. MHC's special exhibition "Budi Daya" is especially worth mentioning for it explores "Budaya" (culture) from the Malay perspective but goes beyond to explore the enactment of "Budi" (Sanskrit for intellect or wisdom) in emotions, behaviour, sight, communities and cognition via the artefacts. This focus on "Budi Daya", the bridging of both traditional and contemporary parts of Malay culture and ideals, is reminiscent of the struggle against the trope of underdevelopment that pursue the Malays. The artefacts highlight a conscious intention to reinterpret Malay culture, identity and ethnicity amidst the push for development. Notably, the artists showcased their influences from popular culture. For example, Malaysian artist Tintoy Chuo featured characters like Sangkalang Vedeh (Darth Vader), Si P Long (C-3PO) amidst mytical characters of the Wayang Kulit repertoire in “Peperangan Bintang” translated directly into Star Wars (look to picture on the left). It is almost as if the iconic Star Wars characters from the West are interacting with the archetypes drawn from Javanese mythology. What a conversation it will have been!
In “Pasar Kumandhang”, Indonesian artist Dani Iswardana Wibowo planted mythical Javanese characters into contemporary landscapes replete with popular and desirable consumer items. He presented his art in a scroll reminiscent of Wayang Beber, a traditional Javanese art form (look to the picture on the left). In doing so, I find that the art pieces furthers highlight the uneasy negotiations between traditions and modern forces, which the artists will have faced in making sense of the present and what is to come.
Contemporary art is able to provide social commentaries that document feelings of past hurt, life in the present and aspirations for the future. My walks down Little India and Kampong Glam has reminded me to be conscious of the intent of artists and more importantly those of the sponsors, the state and relevant actors even while enjoying the rich content in contemporary art, for artists do not work in vacuum. Learning more about the social worlds of the artists through their art makes for a lifelong hobby. What do you make of the use of contemporary art in Singapore? Where else in Southeast Asia have you seen contemporary art being used by the state?
By Ei Xuehan
Ever since I took SE1101E (Introduction of Southeast Asia Studies) in my freshman year, my interest was piqued and I wanted to learn more about Southeast Asia (SEA). I ventured into SEA by taking up SE2214 (Arts of Southeast Asia), where we went to Ubud, Bali to learn Balinese Dance from the locals. We had to dance in the biennial Taksu 2013 event, which was ultimately 40% of our overall assessment. It was undoubtedly an experience and opportunity that only happened once in a lifetime where we got to wear authentic dance costumes and learn from professional dancers.
Right after that semester, I decided to take SE3224 (Thai Art and Drawing), which provided a time off from the usual listening to lectures. A sketchbook, pencil and an eraser was what you needed during a typical tutorial class. The process of developing a Thai drawing and painting was tedious and of course, required long hours of focus and hard work. However, the satisfaction that one gets upon completing it outweighed whatever difficulties were encountered.
It was during my stay in Bali, after watching so many performances, which made me fall in love with Gamelan. The sounds that the metallophones, drums and gongs produced led me to constantly want to hear more of its music. My friends who majored in SEA Studies told me that NUS offered the module, Music in SEA, and one could learn how to play the Gamelan during tutorials. Without much hesitation, I bided for SE2221 (Old and New Music In Southeast Asia).
The module attracted students across all faculties, consisting of a class of around sixty-plus students. Some of these students were Southeast Asian majors, while others were interested students who played the gamelan when they were younger, or they were interested in music in general. The module aimed to give us an overview of traditional and popular music in different regions in SEA and focused on selected music – Javanese Gamelan and Thai music (both instruments are available at the SEA department).
During lectures, Pak Jan (Dr Jan Mrazek) explained the musical structures and processes for the different instruments and the forms that a composition can have. Tutorials for this module consisted of 45-minute long practices of different instruments – the Peking, Saron, Demung, Slenthem, and Bonang (as each instrument played a different role). Like what Pak Jan said, it is impossible to understand how to play the Gamelan without conducting hands-on sessions. In fact, just like the Javanese community, which emphasizes on collectivity and harmony within the group, students practiced in groups with the different instruments each time. Even though it looked easy playing the instruments individually (just hitting it with mallets for example), the challenging part came when everyone played together, as we had to listen to each other, and coordinating on when to speed up or slow down.
The fun came after I decided to join Singa Nglaras, the NUS Gamelan Ensemble, comprising of varying individuals from different walks of life. It was Gamelan that brought everyone together at one place. I realized that it was much easier to understand what was going on after taking this module, and thus it made it even more enjoyable playing the Gamelan, as compared to when I joined for one practice with them before taking SE2221. I was fortunate that there was an upcoming performance at Malay Heritage Center one month after I joined, and was welcome to join them even though I had limited playing experience. Javanese Gamelan is indeed very different from Balinese Gamelan. Its rhythm and melody is slower, gentler, and smoother. With the guidance of experienced players and learning with other newbies like me, I enjoyed the process a lot.
Playing the Gamelan allowed me to enter another world; to take a rest from my hectic schedule and just enjoy the music.
Taking up the different SEA Studies modules made me realized how different art forms, music, and ways of life relate to each other. And perhaps one thing that many people had concerns about before taking all these modules were: “I don’t have any artistic talent”, or “I have no clue about it” etc. But it is alright if you do not know anything. If you look closely to the IVLE descriptions of all these elective modules, there is one common thread – “Student does not need any prior knowledge about ____. However, one must have passion and interest in learning _____”.
The only pre-requisite for these modules was passion in learning. Hence, my only advice is – Just Do It. There are so many what ifs; they are never-ending. However, life in NUS is not just about studying mundanely, but also a time for you to explore what you want and discover what you like.
Written by: Wee Min Er
During my summer break in 2014, I participated in the FASStrack Summer Programme – Southeast Asia in Context (SEAiC), with the intent to clear two modules during the holiday to lessen my load for the next semester. Along the journey of the wonderful learning experience, one of the greatest gains for me is being able to know more people and form new bonds. Students from other international colleges like Yale University, University of Copenhagen, and Australian National University, also participated in the programme. The classroom instantly becomes an international space, and the ideas that flow through classroom discussions give me a wide range of insights. Additionally, the SEAiC programme allows students to bond the lecturers in an informal setting, like that of an overseas field trip. It is through the programme that I am able to know professor Effendy, who co-guided the class throughout the whole 5 weeks in Singapore and Cambodia.
During a jam-packed ride on the back of a truck, on the wildly uneven and soggy roads to see Kampong Phluk in Cambodia, I could still recall Prof Effendy excitedly publicising to the class a new module that he would be teaching in the next semester. SE3880B Martial Arts in Southeast Asia; it is a module culminated from his years of experiences and passion in martial arts since his schooling years. On the other hand, my interest in the subject only surrounds my watching of action packed movies like Ip Man and Huang Fei Hong films on local television for entertainment purposes. I have never really been so much of a sporty person, or even considered myself practicing any form of martial arts. I guess you can call me a 'noob' in martial arts. Nevertheless, although I have no background in martial arts (the short kickboxing classes I took part in community centres do not really count), I still felt that the SE3880B module could offer me a new lens to view the diverse Southeast Asia. Plus it sounds super fun, the way Prof Effendy puts it, so I went ahead and bided for the module.
The module name itself must have attracted many other students as well, building up class size to around fifty-plus students. Some of these students are just Southeast Asian Studies majors, like me, fulfilling their major requirements. Others are interested students who are practitioners themselves, each of different martial arts such as Taekwondo or Silat. The module aims to give us an overview on the subject by diving into the history and transformation of martial arts as a whole, and then focusing on a selected few martial arts that are widely practiced in Southeast Asia. Prof Effendy also brings in his friends from the different martial arts to allow us to hear first person perspectives as well as witness amazing demonstrations in class.
In opinion, such special arrangements make the things that we read and learn about come to live; it allows me to better reflect on the impact of martial arts on people's lives and especially to experience for myself the complexity of the movements as a 'noob' in martial arts. Not only do the hands on sessions make lessons less mundane, but it also allowed me to gain a better understanding and appreciation for martial arts. Before this, like most other 'noobs', I would not think much of the moves on the television or live demonstrations unless there are back flips or other kinds of epic-looking flips. Now even as a 'noob' in martial arts, I am able to examine aspects of it besides the usual focus of physical movements. For instance, through the lectures and sharing sessions by practitioners like Dr. Saiful Nizam, I got to see the various forms of Silat in Singapore as well as its role in the Malay culture. The demonstration sessions of the Chinese martial art Nei Jia Quan, also opened my eyes with its powerful moves and linked me back to how ideas and culture flow along with the early Chinese immigrants into Southeast Asia.
Tutorials for this module are also pretty interesting and unique; there are intense discussions, role playing debates, student sharing and even hands on sessions for Kendo. The emphasis on the Kendo hands-on session is the Budo, the martial way and spirit. Throughout the practice session, 'kiai' (to shout) is a very essential and important component of it. The kind of experiences that I got from a single practice session of shouting, stance, wielding the 'shinai' (the sword), and attacking are things that is impossible to have through reading. The kinds of spirit and energy felt in the Multi-Purpose Sports Hall, or the dojo (practice area), are something truly impactful and memorable. At that moment, it did not matter whether or not I am an experienced martial artist or not, as I still got to experience the art and beauty of Kendo first hand.
One of the other components of the SE3880B module that I really enjoyed is the video project assignment. The class is split into groups and tasked to create a video that explores martial arts in different perspectives, so as to explore student's understanding and interpretation in the subject area. Some groups explored the connections between Malay dance and Silat, others did a review on the martial arts scenes in movies like Red Dead Redemption. My group covered the topic of domestic workers and martial arts in Singapore; it's amazing sometimes how our classmates' connections can lead me to discover parts of the country that I never knew existed. The movie screening and pizza session at the end of the 13 weeks, is also one of the highlights of the whole module. Laughter fills the room as we all admire and appreciate each other's hard work, learning something new at the same time. Thank you Prof Effendy, for teaching and making this semester so much fun, I enjoyed my time learning more about martial arts in Southeast Asia!
Drawing a wonderful end to SE3880B, I can proudly say that even though I do not practice martial arts, I am not a noob in understanding martial arts in Southeast Asia. If anyone is thinking of what SE modules to take the next academic year, do consider SE3880B!
By: Khoo Yi Feng
Event invitation from : Dr. Mohd Effendy Bin Abdul Hamid
Cultural experience right in our backyard
Have you ever thought about travelling overseas to learn about the cultures of various Southeast Asian nations? I often do. On 25 October 2014, right here in my backyard, I got to sample a unique Malay cultural experience. With the kind invitation of Mr. Khaizuran Ahmad, pendekar of the Seligi Tunggal Singapura silat school, I swung by Blk 224 Bukit Batok Street 21. The address might seem unassuming but I was impressed by how the basketball court was transformed into a grandly designed kingly court. With melodious Malay music by a live band anchored by stunning vocals and eclectic instruments involving electric guitar, accordion, tabla-like drums and kompang, this urban community space was transformed into a traditional “playground” for Silat practitioners to showcase their craft. With these entertaining auditory treats the event titled, Penyambung Hikayat, Pendekar Terulung, got off to a satisfying start. The event was designated to launch the official insignia of the school and the proclamation of the council of Seligi Tunggal.
Upon reaching the venue, I could instantly feel the “gotong royong” spirit (community cooperation and support). There was an element of trust and generosity as there were no servers at the “makan” counters. The huge spread of drinks and food was free-for-all to enjoy. This starkly contrasted my experiences serving in the grassroots where there were servers attending to each tray of food during community events. The Mak Ciks helped each other to reserve seats and take care of each others’ kids while they busy themselves with snapping photos and videos of their “anak-anak” (children) in action.
Next time, you are thinking of traveling to an "exotic" location to have a cultural immersion, think again. Go downstairs, walk around your community and you just might have your desired immersion at your doorstep.
Regardless of Ethnicity
In multi-racial Singapore, it never fails to impress me when parents of different ethnicity send their children to learn the arts of something ethnically different from theirs. On this day, I saw a Chinese couple actively interacting with their neighbours and snapping photos of their young child who performed onstage. I saw another Indian couple who was busy “sayang-ing” their child after he finish performing a set of Silat movements on stage. At the sidelines, I spotted curious onlookers, young and old, of various ethnicity. Regardless of ethnicity, this organic cultural exchange enables the residents in the community to be exposed to a multi-cultural milieu. It also encourages the residents to gather and build social capital while they share a visceral and visual sampling of these traditional martial arts, hence fostering a spirit of bonding and closeness in the community.
Demonstration, Pride and Honor
When I was 11 years old, I had opportunities to perform for community events with my Taekwondo Club. Together with other kids, we kicked, danced and had a great time. Looking at the kids embracing the stage demonstrating the carefully choreographed Silat movements with fervour, I had a wide smile spread across my face. Regardless of accuracy, they wielded their weapons (sticks, knives, keris or others) with reverence, pride and honor! I applaud Seligi Tunggal Singapura for creating this platform for the kids to showcase their mastery, develop efficacy and be inspired (in observing other senior practitioners). This agency-building exercise, benefits not just the young ones but also the pendekars as they witness the continuity of their beloved craft.
All in all, I found this event by Seligi Tunggal Singapura a roaring success. As the event celebrates the continuity of Seligi Tunggal, the assembly of masters and young practitioners are united in the spirit of keeping the flame of Pencak Silat alive and burning. I appreciated how it reminded me that I need not travel far to have a cultural experience in multi-racial Singapore. I appreciated how it showed me that such interest groups are assets among the community that deserve to be supported. I saw how the vision of “gotong royong” of Singapore can be organically nurtured via the participation of individuals in events that are not organized by their ethnic groups. Lastly, I appreciated how the kids demonstrated silat moves with infectious enthusiasm, pride and honour. The embodied practice of martial arts transcend language barriers and is a community asset which enables all ethnic groups to appreciate viscerally and intellectually. Check out the Silat warriors in your backyard the next time you walk around your neighbourhood!
Saturday, 18 January 2014
The Straits Times
This was a review of the book “The Memoirs And Memorials Of Jacques De Coutre: Security, Trade And Society In 16th- And 17th-century Southeast Asia”, edited by Associate Professor Peter Borschberg of the Department of History at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and published by NUS Press. The 453-page volume provides a rare first-hand account of the political and trading landscape of present-day Southeast Asia between 1593 and 1603.
Click here to read the full article.
Credits to http://blog.nus.edu.sg/fassnews/
The Department of Southeast Asian Studies presents TAKSU 2013! Come support the students of SE2214, and our very own Dr Irving Chan Johnson as well as special guest performers!
You are invited to join us; no registration is needed. Take a break from studying and join us for a night of awesome dances, such as: Baris Gede, Jauk Keras, Topeng Keras, Oleg, legong, Puspawresti, Pendet, Kebyar Duduk, Selat Segara and Joged!
Bring your friends along!
Venue: LT13, FASS
Time: 7.30 - 10.30pm, November 20 (Wednesday)
For more information, please check out the Facebook page!
The nation celebrated Singapore's 48th national day this year. To most Singaporeans, we are a very young nation and most of us would consider Sir Stamford Raffles as our founder, perhaps.
Yet, the legend of Sang Nila Utama is not entirely, well, a legend. In fact, Singapore dates back to 700 years ago!
Meet Dr John N. Miksic - the "Indiana Jones" of Singapore. Arriving here in 1984 to help with the excavation at Fort Canning Hill, when Singapore lacked a local archaeologist, he has since grown attached to Singapore and currently resides here, and he also teaches in the Department of Southeast Asian Studies. The Straits Times recently interviewed him regarding Singapore's past.
Read the full article here!