Tuesday, 30 November 2004

A minor key - Singaporean history

A slight little "this day in history" note in The Straits Times pointed out that Singapore's second Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock passed away on this date in 1984 "at his home in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia". That intrigued me - why was our former Chief Minister living in Saudi Arabia? There's not much on the web on Singapore's history, though, but the first para of this column seems to indicate the basis of the story: Lim Yew Hock had converted to Islam, and went on to Saudi Arabia to become Assistant Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

The whole story made me think about these various minor strands of Singapore's history. We like to think of Singapore's cosmopolitanism meaning a comfort with Western society, but naturally the flux of people in and out of the island means there must be Singaporeans - not just those born into Muslim families - who become equally comfortable with Islamic culture and the Middle East.




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