Pirate or hero? Raffles bicentennial fuels Singapore debate

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Stamford Raffles landed 200 years ago. But not all welcome government plans to mark the start of colonial rule.

Published by Al Jazeera English, Jan. 28, 2019

By Tom Benner

Singapore – A pristine white statue of a man in Western clothes, arms folded with the air of a conquering hero, stands on the banks of the Singapore River at the site where he is believed to have landed exactly 200 years ago on Monday.

The statue is of Sir Stamford Raffles, who cut a slippery deal with the locals in what was then known as “Singapura” to claim the island as a port for Britain’s East India Company.

Beneath it, a plaque pays tribute to his “genius and perception” and the way in which he “changed the destiny of Singapore from an obscure fishing village to a great seaport and modern metropolis”.

These days, the statue is popular with shutterbugs, but not everyone looks with pride on the memory of the white settler who brought the forces of imperial domination to an island that would soon be called by its Anglicised name, Singapore. Continue reading …

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