Saturday, February 20, 2016

Battle of Pasir Panjang

Went for a two-hour evening tour at the sites of one of the fiercest fighting defending the island against the Japanese Imperial Army. Second Lieutanant Adnan Saidi and his platoon of 42 under the Malay Regiment bore the brunt of the Japanese assault and cruelty. 74 years later, I still shudder at the vivid descriptions of the pain Second Lieutenant Adnan Saidi bore before being stabbed to death.

This is an annual tour organized by the National Heritage Board (NHB) and led by members of the NUS History Society. We've done this site but it's always different doing the walk years later and have the tour led by volunteers with different stories. It rained heavily all day. Murphy teased us with a light drizzle just before the tour at 7.30pm. The friends and I were in rain-resistant gear. Didn't even bother to bring a camera. Had hoped it would stop or remain at a drizzle. But it got heavier again; although there weren't thunder or lightning, it wasn't viable to do the short stroll without being drenched, even with a brolly and a poncho. It would be miserable.

The short 800m walk from Kent Ridge Carpark A to Reflections at Bukit Chandu was a wash-out. Thankfully there was a shuttle bus. The organizers had to fall back on Plan B, which was to scrap the walk, bus everyone to the end point at Reflections at Bukit Chandu for the brief talk by CPT (Ret) Zainal, then watched a video of the sombre events in February 1942. It was quite cool that participants still turned up in spite of the downpour.

D made cupcakes for the walk. Couldn't open the box to eat them in the rain. So when we were on the shuttle bus back to Kent Ridge Carpark A, we slurped them up. The man was most pleased with dessert. It was the type that didn't hold frosting or cream or whatever. Crunchy crust and melty insides. D might have said Bulgarian cupcakes, but it totally didn't register. I was all like, oh it's fun to eat cupcakes on a shuttle bus! Nom nom nom. 

A pity about the guided walk. But we've strolled along the paths a number of times when we rounded over from the Southern Ridges; we could come back and walk again another day. We had to fill up feedback forms. Zzzz. There was a question that asked if we "felt more Singaporean" after this. We laughed quite hard. If we could have given that a negative rating, we would. NOPE. Events then weren't even Singapore or Singaporean. You might as well have asked if we felt 'more Malaysian', save for the geographical location of this war. Malaysian towns fell too. We were part of the Straits Settlements, a British Crown colony. We were Malaya. Even if that history has resulted in much of today's Singapore's strategic plans of military budget, training and acquisitions (yeah, learning from practical painful examples and all that), I really don't feel much for a Singapore in that incarnation. And my own heritage has resulted in mixed feelings about that era. 

No comments: