Archive for the ‘16 Being Young in the 1950s’ Category

The Young Ones
Darling, We’re the Young Ones
And Young Ones
Shouldn’t be Afraid
To Live, Love
While the Flame is Strong
‘Cause We May Not Be The Young Ones
Very Long…

…goes Cliff Richard and the Shadows’s chart-topping song “The Young Ones”, which was on the soundtrack of the British film musical (1961) the Young Ones. The song and the film are markers of a historical milieu in the English-speaking world between the 1950s and the 1970s in which the youth dominated media headlines and popular culture in many countries around the world as they eschewed traditional patterns of living and expressed their new desires and aspirations in unprecedented ways and forms. (more…)


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“In His Own Words: Writings of the young S. Rajaratnam” by Ho Jin Yee

In London

Sinnathamby Rajaratnam, (S. Rajaratnam) was a product of London’s institutions of higher education at a period he described as a “vortex of political ferment”.[1] As he saw it, those formative years (1937-1947) were spent amongst Indian nationalists for whom “the written word was a weapon of social protest and a means of exposing injustice and exploitation,” equipping him for his criticisms of the political landscape when he returned to Malaya.[2]  His political proclivities were intensified when he came into contact with nationalists such as Mulik Raj Anand, Krishnan Menon, Louise MacNeice, and Dylan Thomas as part of the Fabian Society and Left Book Club.[3] (more…)

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Interview with Mr Arthur Yap (AY) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. 10 August 2017

Interviewer: Edgar Liao (EL)

Mr Arthur Yap grew up in the 1950s in Singapore, and moved to Canada with his wife in the mid-1960s. Other than having a career in real estate in Vancouver, he has been, at various times, an active leader of the Vancouver Singapore Club and a long-serving head of the NUS Alumni (Vancouver Chapter).

He is the nephew of Dr Yap Pheng Geck, a well-known community leader in late colonial Singapore, whose stories and memories are collected in the publication Scholar, Banker, Gentleman Soldier: The Reminiscences of Dr. Yap Pheng Geck (Singapore: Times International 1982).

This abridged interview with him focuses on his memories of being a boy in the 1950s. He grew up in an Anglophone family and received education in English-medium schools and in the University of Malaya in Singapore. Arthur and his friends would have heard Cliff Richard and the Shadows on the radio and sang and danced to “The Young Ones” when the song broke the charts in 1960.

Arthur Yap in his class photo in Anglo-Chinese School. Excerpted from Anglo-Chinese School Annual Magazine, 1957-58. Courtesy of Arthur Yap



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Civics for Young Malayans: Colonial Educator E H G Dobby in Singapore by Edgar Liao

E.H.G. Dobby. A Reader about Malayan Life: Civics for Young Malayans. University of London Press Ltd. 1951, second edition 1956

Ernest Henry George (E.H G.) Dobby was one of three British lecturers that taught geography in Raffles College in Singapore (https://www.fas.nus.edu.sg/geog/about-us/department-history.html). Dobby joined the College’s Department of Geography in 1939 and in 1945 became the first lecturer in the College with a PhD when he was conferred the degree by the University of London. He became the Department’s Head in 1946 and first Professor of Geography in 1947, leading the Department when the authorities upgraded Raffles College into the University of Malaya in 1949. He published extensively and widely on Southeast Asia and Malaya and established the Department’s flagship journal, the Malayan Journal of Tropical Geography.


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“Introducing Xu Lanjun and Li Lidan (eds). Constructing Nanyang Children”  by Edgar Liao

徐兰君 李丽丹 (主编). 建构南洋儿童:战后新马华语儿童刊物及文化研究. 新加坡:八方文化创作室

Xu Lanjun and Li Lidan (eds). Constructing Nanyang Children: Studies of Chinese Children’s Publications in Post-War Singapore and Malaya. Singapore: World Scientific Global Publishing 2016

This is a synopsis of an edited volume consisting of eleven essays examining publications for children and youth – comics, magazines, and educational materials – published in Singapore/Malaya, Shanghai and Hong Kong and distributed and disseminated throughout Asia between the 1950s and 1970s. Put together by faculty and alumni of the Chinese Studies department, National University of Singapore, the volume greatly increases our knowledge and understanding of the energetic and exciting (as well as tumultuous and uneasy) world of the publication houses whose products were read by the local Chinese-speaking children and youth in Singapore and Malaya between the 1950s and the 1970s, and of the authors and publishers that produced them.[1] Where it is feasible to do so, s/pores is keen to introduce non-English language materials in its issues. (more…)

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