Key moments in life of S'pore, as seen through ST pictures

Key moments in life of S'pore, as seen through ST pictures

For decades, a black and white photo of 13-year-old Dutch girl Maria Hertogh clutching the waist of her Muslim foster mother has captured the imagination of thousands here.

In it, Aminah Mohamed stands aghast at the Supreme Court during a custody battle with the teenager's Dutch-Catholic biological parents in a case that went on to spark riots that left 18 people dead.

Shot on May 19, 1950 by a Straits Times photographer, the image has been reproduced in many history texts. And now, it is one of over 400 photos chronicling the defining moments in Singapore's post-war history to go on display at a new exhibition called We: Defining Stories.

Presented by The Straits Times and the National Museum of Singapore (NMS), the four-month free display at the museum's Exhibition Gallery 1 will feature photos from 1950 to 2013 from the paper's archives and the museum's collection.

Its aim, said NMS director Angelita Teo, is to present perspectives of local history and culture via the "powerful medium" of photography ahead of the nation's 50th birthday next year.

She said: "It's timely to look back at the cherished moments that have made us who we are; moments that were happy, sad, bittersweet and the ones which made us laugh and reflect."

Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez said: "Our reporters and cameramen were there at the scene of many of the critical moments in the life of our country.

"Their reports and images help take us back to those times, in an interesting and thought-provoking way in this exhibition."

Divided into six sections, it will cover significant events in the nation's history.

It will kick off with a section called Merdeka, the Malay word for freedom.

This features photos from pre- and post-independent Singapore, including incidents such as the Bukit Ho Swee fire which tore through the squatter homes of 16,000 residents on May 25, 1961.

This marked a turning point in the country's approach to modern public housing.

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