A little colonial hangover

I was chatting with a British colleague once about how Singapore, for all its apparently American trappings, still carries a residual flavour of its colonial past, if you only know where to look for it.

Like in the names of so many of our roads and places, which, unlike in other decolonised countries, were not changed after Singapore became independent. So we still have Raffles Institution (after putative founder of Singapore Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles), Fort Canning Hill (after former Governor-General Viscount Charles John Canning), and any number of Queen Elizabeth, King George and Queen Victoria eponyms.

Like in some of the peculiar foods we eat and drink, particularly certain tinned (or Americans would say canned) foods. How about a little corned beef hash or some baked beans on toast? Even local versions of coffee and tea rely on tinned condensed or evaporated milk, not the fresh or pasteurized variety (which were in fact used they were superseded by the tinned versions in the early 20th century).

Like in the fact that studying at Cambridge and Oxford are still largely regarded as the pinnacle of academic (and potentially social) achievement — even though those Ivy Leagues ain’t too shabby either.

Of course, listening to Singapore radio deejays with their (pseudo-)American accents, the domination of our cinema screens by American movies and the proliferation of “like” in the local English variant, you’d never think today that this, like, used to be a former British colony. How fast things change in a couple of generations.

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