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     FrontPage Edition: Sun 26 Mar 2006

Old Ford Motor Factory reopens as World War II attraction


National Monument Old Ford Motor Factory Reopens as Newest World War II Attraction

64 years after the British surrendered to the Japanese forces at the old Ford Motor Factory, the national monument will now reopen as a new World War II exhibition gallery.
Adding to the eight institutions under the National Heritage Board (NHB), Memories at Old Ford Factory provides unique insights into the heroic struggle of our forefathers, the tragedy and drama of their life during the Japanese Occupation.
Many of the archival photographs, oral history interviews, maps and artefacts from the National Archives of Singapore will be showcased for the first time.
To mark its new lease of life, Minister for Defence Mr Teo Chee Hean officially opened the gallery on Thursday, 16 February at 7 pm
History was made on 15 February 1942 when Lieutenant General A.E. Percival of the British Army surrendered to Lieutenant General Tomoyuki Yamashita of the Japanese Forces at the Board Room of the Ford Factory.

This historically significant room together with the art deco styled building has been specially preserved.
The winding driveway leading to the building - hailed as the ¡°ceremonial route that the British Forces took on the day of the surrender¡± ¨C will also be preserved as prescribed by the Preservation of Monuments Board
Measuring 420 square metres, the gallery comprises the Board Room, 10 thematic sections and a state-of-the-art audio-visual theatre that seats 70.
The restoration work and building of a new repository block on the premise took 24 months and cost S$10.32 million to complete.

The opening sections ¨C ¡°The Malayan Campaign¡± (located outdoors), ¡±Terrifying Last Days¡±, ¡±The Surrender: Fall Of The Impregnable Fortress¡±, ¡°The Rise Of A New Imperialism: The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere¡±, and ¡°Resisting The Rising Sun¡± examine the various aspects leading to the Japanese domination of Asia.
¡°Living Under The Rising Sun¡± recounts the various facets of life during the Occupation years. These include the mass screenings, the restructuring of the economy, ¡¯Japanisation¡¯, the grave shortage of food as well as critical health problems faced during the Japanese administration.
Section Seven ¡°Riding the Japanese Tiger¡± explores the establishment of the Indian National Army or INA and the role it had in India¡¯s fight for independence.
The rise of resistance groups and operations such as Force 136 and ¡®Operation Rimau¡¯ will be featured in section Eight ¨C ¡°The Empire Strikes Back¡±: With the formal surrender of the Japanese in Singapore on 12 September 1945, section Nine, ¡°The Surrender: The Rising Sun Sets¡± looks at the return of the British. Finally, the exhibition will end with ¡°A New Beginning¡±, which looks at the various war crimes trials conducted in Asia, and how those who perished during the war are remembered.
¡°With multi-faceted and innovative story-telling, Memories at Old Ford Factory offers visitors a different and more personal perspective of the war and its impact on the various ethnic communities. The intimate accounts from the extensive oral history collection will tug at the heartstrings of both local and foreign visitors,¡± says Mrs Lim Siok Peng, Chief Executive Officer of NHB.
Hundreds of rare oral history recordings and several specially commissioned documentaries will also recreate life during the Japanese Occupation.
One of these documentaries features the noble community spirit demonstrated by various ethnic groups during the Occupation. One example was when the Chinese families had to give away their babies to Malay families to help ensure the survival of their offspring when they were singled out for mass execution.
The other videos will trace the advancement of the Japanese forces, major milestones and photo essays of the battle leading to the final surrender by the British Military (attached is the list of synopses for the documentaries). These will be rotated and screened at the audio-visual theatre.
¡°The commissioned documentary videos will shed light on the resilience and valor of our people during the days of the war. As we explore the origins of our patriotic history and the pivoting moments which gave rise to our eventual independence, we wish to pay tribute to the heroism and sacrifices made by our forefathers,¡± elaborates Mr. Pitt Kuan Wah, Director of the National Archives of Singapore.¡±
To enhance the experience, a garden plot behind the building has been planted with wartime crops such as tapioca, sugarcane and pineapples. These crops, which are watered by a new rainwater harvest system, serve to highlight the ingenious survival skills adopted by those who lived through the Syonan years.

The public will be able to visit Memories at Old Ford Factory from 20 February 2006. Admission to the gallery is free.
Located at 351 Upper Bukit Timah Road, the gallery will be open from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday, and 9am to 1.30pm on Saturday.

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Related Article:
- Old Ford Motor Factory gazetted as a national monument

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