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Netizen exposes false historical facts in 2019 dance-drama production Organized by Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre

A netizen has recently criticized a 2019 dance-drama production commissioned by The Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, highlighting various historical inaccuracies.

One notable claim questions the origin of the name Singapura, suggesting it stemmed from Sang Nila Utama witnessing a Chinese Lion dance in Temasek.



SINGAPORE: A Malay netizen has turned to social media to question whether The Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre is attempting to overly emphasize the Chinese aspects of Singapore’s history.

This critique centres on the identification of several historical inaccuracies within a dance-drama production.

The netizen, who goes by the name Fikrah Siyasah on Facebook, raised concerns about a dance-drama production titled “Whispers From The Dragon’s Teeth Gate,” commissioned by the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC).

Upon checking the SCCC official website, the dance-drama, performed on April 20, 2019, claimed to “rediscover the enthralling tale of Singapore’s transformation from an island of immigrants to a nation forged by our multi-ethnic cultures”.

“Over four acts, the performance brings the audience on a journey 700 years back in time – from the legendary voyage of Sang Nila Utama and the discovery of the Dragon’s Teeth Gate, to the progress of Temasek as it transforms into the metropolitan city known as Singapore as today. ”

The production also boasts an ensemble of international experts across various fields, including Singaporean historian Mr Kua Bak Lim (柯木林), Cultural Medallion and Singapore Chinese Cultural Contribution Award recipient and playwright Mr Han Lao Da (韩劳达), esteemed Indonesian choreographer Didik Nini Thowok, and Peranakan costume designer Raymond Wong.

Did Sang Nila Utama witness a Chinese Lion Dance in Temasek?

In a recent Facebook post, Fikrah Siyasah voiced his critique of the dance-drama production, highlighting numerous historical inaccuracies in its portrayal of the origin of the name Singapura.

This includes the assertion that the name Singapura originated from Sang Nila Utama, the legendary founder of Singapore, witnessing a Chinese Lion dance in Temasek.

Moreover, in an article provided by the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) to a local media outlet, Smart Local Singapore, in 2019 to introduce the drama, the article also claimed that historians are attributing the origin to Sang Nila Utama’s sighting of a Chinese traditional lion dance.

Mr. Siyasah remarked, “They claimed that this silly idea, which has no historical basis, is now getting acceptance from historians.”

He further pointed out that the article asserted that Singapore’s original name was not Temasek but rather the decidedly Chinese name Long Ya Men (龙牙门) or Dragon Teeth Gate.

In his post, Mr Siyasah said the name Long Ya Men was derived from a Chinese traveller’s account of his 14th-century visit to the island.

Wang Da Yuan (汪大渊) indeed referenced the Dragon Teeth Gate, which is, in reality, Batu Belayar.

However, Mr Siyasah contended that Wang did not refer to the entire island as Long Ya Men.

Instead, Wang referred to the island as Tanmaxi (淡马锡) – Temasek.

“The gate he referred to was just an area within Temasek. It was not the original name for Temasek.”

The netizen challenging efforts to rewrite Singapore’s history with a Chinese focus

Mr Siyasah criticized the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre’s apparent intent to establish the idea that Singapore once had a Chinese name.

He pointed out that there were other names that predated Temasek. Arab travellers in the 9th century, which was 400 years before Wang Da Yuan’s visit, referred to the island as Mayt.

Mayt served as a hub for international shipping, with ships from the Malay archipelago, China, India, and the Middle East making stops in Mayt (Singapore) to exchange goods.

Coincidentally, there is a theory suggesting that Sentosa’s former name, Pulau Blakang Mati, was a reference to the name Mayt used for Singapore, as Sentosa lies to the north of Mayt.

There is also a belief that 800 years before it was known as Mayt, Singapore was known as Sabara. Sabara, which is at the southern tip of the Malay peninsula, was also known as a centre for international trade.

“Singapore’s international shipping and trading history is not new. Its status for international trade did not begin with Raffles. And it definitely was not due to Lee Kuan Yew or his group of colonial settlers.”

He strongly condemned the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre’s efforts to reshape Singapore’s history with a predominant Chinese perspective, characterizing it as “regrettable.”

Furthermore, Mr Siyasah highlighted that the Sinification of Singapore’s history is not an isolated incident but has been occurring over an extended period.

Challenging the ruling party’s historical narrative

In another Facebook post on 13 September, Mr Siyasah also took issue with the Singapore ruling party’s historical narrative to “downplay Malay native history” and present Singapore as a nation of migrants from various ethnic backgrounds.

Fikrah Siyasah mentions that, despite Singapore’s constitution recognizing Malays as the indigenous people of the country, PAP leaders and Chinese elites often referred to Singapore as a nation of migrants, arguing that there was no native, indigenous culture.

This erasure of Malay native history was further perpetuated by a documentary produced with support from the Singapore government during the SG50 celebration, which suggested that Sang Nila Utama named the city “Singapura” or “Lion City” after witnessing a Chinese lion dance performance.

He criticizes this narrative as an attempt to embed Singapore with Chinese history and notes that it has gained traction within the Chinese community.

Readers can view the complete recorded performance of the dance-drama “Whispers From The Dragon’s Teeth Gate,” which Mr Siyasah criticized in his remarks.

Singapore ranked second most influenced by China in the world

According to the China Index 2022 by Taiwan-based research outfit Doublethink Lab, Singapore has ranked second globally, preceded by Cambodia and followed by Thailand, in terms of China’s growing influence on countries.

The study revealed that Singapore is particularly vulnerable to Beijing’s influence in areas such as technology, society, and academia, although it is less affected in terms of domestic politics.

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Singa – Pur is a Indian word . It means lion state < Pur. Means village, town, state, country; from Sanskrit पुर (pura) ,

Its even ridiculous to suggest that Singapore is found by china people

The first empire to rule south east Asia was Ruler : Arulmozhi Varman ce 947 , Headquarters : Thanjavur, Chola Empire (modern-day Tamil Nadu, South India). Singapore was a uncharted island but the whole of south east Asia came under the administration of the chola navy by year 947.In 1025 CE, the Chola Emperor Arunmozhi Varman launched naval raids on Srivijaya in maritime Southeast Asia. He integrated his empire into a tight administrative grid under royal control, and at the same time strengthened local self-government. Therefore, he conducted a land survey in 1000 CE to effectively marshall the resources of his… Read more »

Stop telling us lies.. Singapore and southeast Asia the only empire that was present was chola empire from India . The rest were just passerbys traders that used the island as port.

It will take 4 to 6 months at least for someone to come from china to Singapore in wooden ships , with no engine nothing only driven by winds. And for the most parts it’s not those kings or queens who will do this journey just some ordinary trader or sailor who wants to make money. And u base history on some odd unknown sailor with no political clout or position who comes and goes?

Why don’t they do a play on the ancient Indian heritage of Singapore? For nearly 1500 years, the Chola dynasty (300 B.C.–A.D. 1279) asserted its power—influencing religion, culture, and architecture—via a sophisticated maritime trade system that extended from India throughout Southeast Asia and even to China,Asia%20and%20even%20to%20China.

“He further pointed out that the article asserted that Singapore’s original name was not Temasek but rather the decidedly Chinese name Long Ya Men (龙牙门) or Dragon Teeth Gate”

“In his post, Mr Siyasah said the name Long Ya Men was derived from a Chinese traveller’s account of his 14th-century visit to the island”

all midievial travelers and years have different names for the same place . Arabs had a different name , so do’s all sailors vocabulary for those times. Pls don’t be stupid use that as historical basis .

Lion dance where it comes from ?. There are no lions native to China . In order to have lion dance the animal must be present in their culture which isn’t so .

Sang nila utama first landed and saw a lion. There are no lions in southeast Asian countries, only tigers . Lions are only found in one continent in the world – Africa. In fact in those times no one in southeast Asia knows what a lion looks like. How the hell did his advisor say it was a lion.

the first rulers of Singapore are the chola empire from India . Arunmozhi Varman .Arulmozhi Varman c. 947 Thanjavur, Chola Empire (modern-day Tamil Nadu, India). This military empire had many innovations in midievial technology and a modern administration system of tax collection , public utilities board, court systems legal and first universities for public service and administration in the world the time.. they had the first navy with military structure in the whole world U can still see their chola culture heritage they left behind in Thailand , Indonesia sumatra and many countries in this region. Then island of Singapura was… Read more »

Singapore is located in the Malay archipelago. It’s a know fact

The ruling government floating more “test balloons” on Singaporean’s reception towards joining a future “Chinese commonwealth”?

I wonder which other organisation loves to erase the history of their own nation and people. Oh right, the Communist Party of China.

The SCCC really blew it this time. Lack of research? Or trying to change history to fit the preferences of liars?

Juz ask our mini starts to issue POFMA
Then anything will become (their version of) the truth.

There are many versions but MOE textbooks did not cover all.
If we want to know who landed here first, some history books actually claimed a Chinese official, named zhenghe, was actually the first to explore this piece of land.

Totally in agreement with FS. The PAP have allowed new citizens from the PRC decades ago and now these citizens have infiltrated the govt. They are changing history and making it seem like China were the first in Singapore. This is the first step. The next will be China will be making a sovereign claim that historically Singapore belongs to China. This is how China has been taking over vast land and countries including the South China Sea. We are in a compromised position because of the PAP and it’s cronies. China will sooner or later hold a gun to… Read more »

If PAP has its way, PAP would say PAP found Singapore.