Thursday, August 10, 2006

Readers Question: David Marshall Interview

Over the past couple of days, readers have written to me with various questions about the David Marshall Interview. I now attempt to answer these questions.

HOW MANY TIMES DID YOU MEET DAVID MARSHALL?

I met him twice. First on 5 May 1994 and again on the eve of National Day that same year. It was during the second meeting that I decided that I would one day publish his interview unedited. I stored the transcripts soon after.

WHY DID IT TAKE YOU 12 YEARS TO RELEASE THIS INTERVIEW?

It took 12 years for blogs to arrive!

But, in all honesty, I was actually remiss. I recently met some members of the Marshall family and I recalled this interview.

Last week, I dug out the transcripts. I felt the time had come to release this interview.

Let me also assure you that the fact this release comes at the same time as the Law Society's interview with another elderly and prominent lawyer-turned-politician is sheer coincidence!

THERE SOME ERRORS IN THE INTERVIEW AND THESE WERE LATER AMENDED. HOW DID THESE HAPPEN?

A lot of these were typographical errors when I typed the interview. Some others were due to my limited transcripting skills and knowledge, when I was 17. Most have now hopefully been corrected!

Unfortunately, I have moved at least three times since the interview. Once to a new flat in Singapore, the next time to England and then back to Singapore. In this process, I lost the original tapes of the interview so I only had the various versions of the transcript to rely on.

As such, I am especially grateful to the family and friends of David Marshall who have either called me or wrote to me following the release of this interview with their points of correction.

HOW MANY SIMILAR INTERVIEWS DO YOU STILL HAVE STORED FOR RELEASE?

I will keep you in suspense!

But I wish to underscore something, which I feel is necessary. We are at an unfortunate point in our history, where many of independent Singapore's movers and shakers have left us or are on their way already. It is a reality we cannot ignore.

To add more salt to this wound of life, I have met quite a number of persons who are under the misled illusion that the success of independent Singapore was all the work of one man. I get absolutely flabbergasted by such remarks, especially since this is not true. I don't blame them though; their staple of information happens to be our mainstream media.

There is therefore a critical need to capture some of the contributions and views of the many individuals that made Singapore what it is today. I know some effort has already been put into capturing the legacies of some of our founding fathers, and some persons are taking this work further. K Kesavapany and his team at Institute of Southeast Asian Studies deserve special mention here.

However, independent Singapore is not just the legacy of these founding fathers. I am sure this Singapore story had its fair share of founding mothers, contrarians or even "villains". We really need to find these people and document their stories before we lose them.

The mainstream media will not do this. And even if they do, their work will be limited due to a range of circumstances.

Blogs and other independent or alternative media thus have a golden role carved out for themselves here.

I hope more will take advantage of such spaces to document such lesser known aspects of our Singapore story.

2 comments:

Wong Png Leong said...

Thank you very much for the transcript. It is not only your dream coming true but also something I want to read very much.

I do not know Mr Marshall well, but I know he is one of the finest mind that contributed to SG success in the early days and also help shaped part of the country history.

It is indeed your good karma to meet this excellent gentleman.

Thank you once again.

P.S: Gosh...how could you lose the tapes! ARGGGGGGGGGGG it should be pass down for generations! gosh gosh. *bang head on table. =P

Norman said...

Dr Chan Heng Chee wrote David Marshall's autobiography. Does she know about your interview with him too?