Celebrating Singapore’s Development: An Analysis of the Millennium Stamps

20 December, 2016

Photo Credit: The Straits Times

A chapter titled, ‘Celebrating Singapore’s Development: An Analysis of the Millennium Stamps’ (2004) in the book ‘Systemic Functional Linguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis: Studies in Social Change’ by A/P Chng Huang Hoon’s (NUS Dept of English Language & Literature) studies the Singapore Stamp Millennium Collection which was commissioned on 20 December 1999.

Chng illuminates the messages embedded within the texts of these stamps and investigates their strategic conception in contributing to the state’s nation-building process. In one analysis, Chng brings to light the use of a dual classification scheme of two opposing values – i.e. ‘local’ versus ‘global’ as indicated by the word choices, “renaissance city” and “world class homes” used in some of the stamps. One can appreciate the efforts in projecting an image of Singapore that is simultaneously cosmopolitan yet vernacular. Chng also identifies how the clause structure of the stamp marking the ‘Japanese Occupation’ took a specific part in history and made it into a ‘milestone’ worthy of celebration. This stamp strategically depicts scenes ‘before and after’ World War II to remind Singaporeans today of the peace they now enjoy. Such a characterization of a significant period in history ignores the traumatic experiences that the older generation had lived through during the dark days of the war – ‘memorable moments’ that may instead bring feelings of grief rather than of triumph and pride.

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