Signage of war gallery completed to reflect full name

The completed signage at the Former Ford Factory building.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

The new gallery at the Former Ford Factory building opened its doors yesterday, but it was the signage outside that drew attention.

The signage - in front of the building and by the road - now reflect the gallery's full name, Syonan Gallery: War and Its Legacies, along with the phrase "An Exhibition at Former Ford Factory".

When reporters were given a preview of the revamped space last Thursday, the three signs by the road and building entrance read just "Syonan Gallery".

A spokesman for the National Library Board said the signs had not yet been completed during the media preview.

Revamped museum opens as Syonan Gallery

She added: "The revamped exhibition has always been titled 'Syonan Gallery: War and Its Legacies, An Exhibition at Former Ford Factory'.

"There has been no change to the name of the exhibition or the Former Ford Factory, which remains a gazetted national monument."

The name Syonan Gallery had upset some Singaporeans who felt that it seemed to honour the Japanese Occupation of Singapore during World War II.

In a Facebook post last night, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted that the name of the exhibition "has understandably caused strong reactions".

He said: "We cannot erase our history or bury the past. The exhibition is a reminder of a traumatic period in our history and the suffering our pioneers experienced when Singapore lost its freedom and even its name."

This article by The Straits Times was published in The New Paper, a free newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.

Japanese troops killed staff and patients at Alexandra Hospital in WWII

  • Alexandra Hospital feels more like a chalet than a hospital.
  • The three-storey hospital blocks - comprising several linked buildings - are spread across sprawling grounds of 130,000 sq m, surrounded by greenery.
  • It even has a football field.
  • Its corridors are wide and airy and the hospital's main entrance at Block 1 overlooks a butterfly garden facing Alexandra Road.
  • Mr Lee Yan Chang, an executive architect from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), says: "The intention was to provide airy spaces and encourage fresh air to circulate through the grounds so patients could recuperate - fresh natural air was considered 'health giving'.
  • Furthermore, there was no air-conditioning back then, so that is why the buildings are more spread out."
  • Members of the public are encouraged to enjoy the greenery at the hospital, especially the butterfly garden.
  • Mr Lee says: "The butterfly garden is a unique community landmark of the area that offers a quiet sanctuary everyone can enjoy. It is worth a visit if you are in the vicinity."
  • But beneath the serenity of the hospital's grounds lies an unsettling history: Staff and patients at the hospital were massacred by Japanese troops on Feb 14, 1942, during the Japanese invasion.
  • In recognition of the hospital's WWII history, the National Heritage Board marked it as a Historic Site in 1998.
  • Built in 1938 by the British Armed Forces, it was originally known as the British Military Hospital until it was handed over to the Singapore Government in 1971 for a symbolic $1.
  • It was then opened to the public as a general hospital.
  • Mr Lee adds that it is rare to find old hospital buildings which still function as hospitals today.
  • "Look at the Old Changi Hospital - it's no longer used as one," he says, referring to the hospital's old premises in Halton Road in Changi.
  • It moved to new premises in Simei in 1997.