Page 44 - PN136
P. 44

   Completing the History 历史补白: 《三州府文件修集选编》 This 21st-century anthology edited from a British civil servants’ Chinese textbook recreates life in the 19th-century Chinese community in Singapore and Malaya. 19世纪英国殖民官员的文言文读本,21世纪重新编注, 重现早期新马华社的生活面貌。 In 1894, the British colonial government published Text Book of Documentary Chinese, Selected and Designed for the SpecialUseofMembersoftheCivilService oftheStraitsSettlementsandtheProtected Native States to help its civil servants better understand the Chinese community. The book was out of print and the only copy today can be found in the National Library’s “Rare Collections”. In 2021, two renowned local historians, Mr Kua Bak Lim (Academic Committee Chairman of the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations) and Dr Lew Bon Hui (Associate Professor at New Era University College’s Department of Chinese Language & Literature in Malaysia) teamed up to publish Collection of Chinese Documents in the Straits Settlements (Special Edition), adding annotations and punctuation to the original text, filling the gaps in the history of the 19th-century Chinese community. A Mandatory Reading The 三州府 in the original title refers to the British East India Company’s Straits Settlements of Penang, Melaka, and Singapore established in 1826. The British government took over the Straits Settlements in 1867 and the Chinese Protectorate was set up to address matters concerning the Chinese community in 1877. To handle the increasing number of issues, the British colonial government mandated its civil servants learn Chinese and its dialects. Edited by G.T. Hare, Text Book of Documentary Chinese was tailored for this undertaking. Featuring 383 documents divided into three volumes and seven chapters, it covers all aspects of history and life then. An Extraordinary Project It took Mr Kua and Dr Lew three years to put together their new book. The original text was written in Classical Chinese without punctuation, and their extraordinary endeavour was further challenged by the incorporationoftheFujiandialectinthe contentspageoftheoriginalpublication. To maintain the original appearance of the 162 documents selected from the original publication by Mr Kua and Dr Lew, the text was first scanned and the punctuation was then added. This painstaking process also included the annotation of the many terms and names in the original text. Their efforts were recognisedbythesupportoftheSingapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations and New Era University College in Malaysia. Mr Kua has published numerous works that promote Chinese history and culture, and has also been actively promoting local Chinese heritage through speeches and the sharing of his research results. In fact, he donated his 2019 Singapore Chinese Cultural Contribution Award of S$10,000 to 44 - popularnews 136 By Ruth Cao 文:曹蓉 

   42   43   44   45   46