The Turtle and the Temple

  National Museum of Singapore Gallery Theatre, Basement
Date: Sat, 19 Jul
Time: 2pm- 3.30pm
Venue: National Museum of Singapore Gallery Theatre, Basement

Synopsis: Thousands flock to the Tua Pek Kong temple at Kusu Island every year, a pilgrimage practice that began more than 150 years ago. How did this tradition begin and how have the associated rituals and beliefs changed over time? In turn, how have changes to the island and its physical and socio-economic environment affected the practice and future of this pilgrimage? Drawing on his research and interviews conducted in the late 2000s, Jack Chia offers a look at Kusu from the inside out, through the eyes of the temple’s caretakers and their stories of the island.

Speaker: Jack Chia is a PhD candidate in Southeast Asian History at Cornell University. His research on the Kusu Island pilgrimage in 2007-2008 has been published in the New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies. It stems from his interest in Buddhism in Singapore, Chinese popular religion and overseas Chinese history.

The Makers and Keepers of Singapore History Book Launch

The Makers and Keepers of Singapore History Book Launch

Saturday, 24 July, 3.00 – 5.00 pm
The POD, Level 16, National Library Building


History has never been more alive in Singapore, as we can see from new books on our political notables to works containing the voices of those who had been silent, from the interest shown by both the participants as well as young Singaporeans born after the period.


The Makers and Keepers of Singapore History does not join this growing chorus of voices and noises. It begins at the cusp of history, where past and present meet. Every book on the past has to negotiate with the present – to find the archival sources, which are located somewhere, possibly behind a gate and its keeper; or to locate that elusive participant who will throw light on a major gap in our knowledge, and convince them to speak. So much of the research on history is predicated upon such presents that it is important, and timely, to examine the gates, which stand between researchers and the archives and memories, they seek.


The Makers and Keepers of Singapore History is a meditation on this making of history, often on the difficulty of the making. Its contributors, including a diverse group of historians, social scientists, filmmakers, and public intellectuals, reflect on their encounters with the gatekeepers, and how they have or have not been able to enter or circumvent the gates. The book is jointly published by the Singapore Heritage Society and Ethos Books. Due to limited seats, registration is required & can be made via and surf on to “Singapore”.