Review Essay Of “Jacques de Coutre’s And Matelieff’s Singapore and Johor”: Exploring Sources On Pre-Modern History of Singapore, pp. 2 of 11

English works on Southeast Asia either in terms of the relationship to Iberia or using Iberian sources are very limited. The publication of the translated primary sources can facilitate further interpretation and analysis to be made on Southeast Asia. Whether in their unabridged form and especially in their abridged form, the publications can permit students and young historians to delve into a period and region cries out for a greater understanding by a wider audience. To get students and the wider audience to acquaint more with the pre-British Singapore history is not an easy task. Brazil is one of the most dynamic developing countries that has just joined China, India and Russia to form the new world development fund. Singapore’s / Asean’s trade with the largest Portuguese-speaking country has been growing rapidly since the turn of the millennium (Abdenur, 2013). However, Singapore and Malaysia, and being located in the Anglophile world, having embraced the British colonial heritage does not facilitate a ready understanding of Southeast Asia in relation to Iberia.

Since 2000, the general school history curriculum is steadily moving toward focusing on a more contemporary period (Sim & Chelva, 2014). Hence, a whole generation of students (apart from their self and interest readings) might not have a chance to connect to the medieval / early modern period of Southeast Asia and the wider world.[i] There appears to be an exception in the development of the curriculum (especially in 2014) on pre-Rafflesian Singapore history; championed hand-in-hand by the voice of scholars such as Chongguan Kwa, John Miksic and Peter Borschberg. Part of the problem might have arisen from the overly utilitarian approach in conceptualising history. An informal check with the instructor coaching Singapore history at the Humanities and Social Studies academic group (at NIE) reveals that one of the difficulties in familiarising student-teachers (teacher trainees) with the pre-Rafflesian history of Singapore lay in providing the appropriate contexts for the audience (whether student-teachers or students). This paper hopes to address part of this problem.

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