Since 1819, when Raffles founded Singapore as a trading post for the East India Company the white man’s supremacy had been unquestioned. By the time I went to school in 1930, I was aware that the Englishman was the big boss, and those who were white like him were also bosses – some big, others not so big, but all bosses. They had superior lifestyles and lived separately from the Asiatics, as we were then called. They ate superior food with plenty of meat and milk products. Every three years they went “home” to England for three to six months at a time to recuperate from the everything climate of equatorial Singapore. Their children also went “home” to be educated and not to Singapore schools. They, too, led superior lives.
There were no question of any resentment. The superior status of the British in government and society was simply a fact of life. After all, they were the greatest people in the world. They had the biggest empire that history had ever known, stretching over all time zones, across all four oceans and five continents.
I have taken above text from the book “The Singapore Story – Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew”. Like what we have Gandhiji in India, same is Lee Kuan Yew for Singapore. For information to reader, Singapore in past was also a British colony and in his book he has written about the impression he had about the British empire till he grew up.
In 1941, Japanese invaded the Singapore and managed to win over Singapore. He writes about British empire post Singapore fall to Japanese in his next chapter as below :
In 70 days of surprises, upsets and stupidities, British colonial society was shattered, and with it all the assumptions of the Englishman’s superiority. During the war, it was the white civilian bosses who ducked under the tables when the bombs and shells fell. Hospitals, public utilities and other essential services were left unmanned. The whites in charge had gone. Stories of their scramble to save their skins led the Asiatics to see them as Selfish and Cowardly. The British myth of their inherent superiority had been smashed by one Asiatic race (read Japanese).
Above lines from the book, indeed describes the selfishness of British race which is inherent in them till date.
In past, I was used to listen this line many time “The sun on British Empire shall never set”. I have seen people leaving for UK from India with very strong faith and belief in this line. Following is the map of the British empire taken from the Wiki as on 1919 which truly says about the supremacy British Raj enjoyed in past.
But today the reality is the glory of British raj is fading away. Tough economic situations, falling markets, spending cuts n what not. It will be interesting to see how the British empire meets the challenges in their own backyard and adapts to the rising Asian powers from Asia and keep the queen’s flag, flagging high in coming time.
It will still be premature to make a statement that Sun on British empire has set because even today in my day to day life, I made to believe that white skin rules but slowly the white skin’s supremacy is coming under question. So which color is going to rule in future? May be “Brown”…….. who knows. Amen!!