CyberFair Project ID: 2155

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: The Unsung Heroes of the Japanese Occupation in Singapore and Malaysia
Category: 2. Community Groups and Special Populations
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: Singapore Chinese Girls' School
    Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

11 students, ages 13-15 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 21, 2003. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2000,2002

Classes and Teachers: Mrs Tina Neoh, Mrs Karen See

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Our local community consists of people who survived the Japanese Occupation in both Singapore and Malaysia. This group of people come from different backgrounds, different races and cultures, which includes the Peranakan and Eurasian communities as well.

At first we focused our attention on the Japanese Occupation in Singapore but from our interviews with people, we realised that many of the old people we interviewed experienced the war while they were living in Malaysia. So we widened our scope to include the Japanese Occupation of Malaysia as well.

The people we interviewed were those who were sixty years old and above. We interviewed our grandparents and the parents of our teachers. In addition, we also decided to interview people of different races as our research of the Japanese Occupation revealed that different races experienced the war differently.

2. Summary of Our Project

The title of our Cyberfair project 2003 is 'The Unsung Heroes of the Japanese Occupation in Singapore and Malaysia'. We chose this particular topic to show how these extraordinary people of different races and religions, managed to survive the harsh conditions of the war. We hope that through our website, we can reach out to other people who have never experienced the hardships of war, educate them and to unite those who have, with the latter in hope that we will be able to learn from them.

During our History and Social Studies lessons, our textbooks only highlight famous people associated with the war but we do not know anything about the ordinary people who survived the war. We do not have information about how ordinary people showed bravery and determination in the face of adversity and suffering. We realised that our grandparents had many stories to tell about how they suffered and managed to survive during those trying times. So, we decided to embark on a learning journey to document these stories in a website which can be accessible to everyone.

Our learning adventure encouraged us to research about the factors that led to the War, the living conditions during the War and the aftermath of the War. We needed to provide sufficient background information about the war to allow our readers to have a basic understanding of the Japanese Occupation.

Our focus, however, is on the interviews we had with people from all walks of life and who represented the different races, cultures and religions of Singapore and Malaysia. We aim to give our viewers an insight into the experiences the people had during those trying times, as well as the courage they had to gather to live on.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:1

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:2-3

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

We were hampered by time constraints as when the school term began in January, we had to manage the Cyberfair project on top of our school work. Although we were able to gather a large number of interviewees, many of them were shy and did not want to have their photographs taken, so we had to convince them to let us take their photograph, or we did without photos for some interviews in the interview section. We spent a lot of time arguing with each other over trivial matters but when we realized how much time was wasted we quickly ironed things out and got down to serious work. Many of us were not very skilled in IT Web design so we sought the help of our IT savvy friends who came to our rescue.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

It has been a fantastic learning journey and we hope that our school friends and other young people will have a better understanding of the Japanese Occupation and its impact on the lives of ordinary people through our website.

6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

We learnt how to work together as a team. We practiced brainstorming to come up with ideas and to find solutions to our problems. We filled our project room with post-its and brainstormed our storyboard and how we were going to divide out the research work and to review and edit the information we collected. We learnt to be more open with our feelings, and that we would work better tighter if we knew and understood how each other felt. We sharpened our research and interviewing skills too, and this would help us greatly when we step in the working world.

The topic that we chose is very relevant to our studies. Our group comprises of Secondary Two and Three students, and we learn about the Japanese Occupation in Secondary Two and Secondary Three History. Through the interviews, we have gained a first-hand insight into how life was like throughout the Japanese Occupation, and it helps us to better understand the topic.

Through our website, we hope to help people studying the Japanese Occupation further understand how life was like during Japanese Occupation. We also hope that people around the world would learn more about the Japanese Occupation, a part of World War Two, which is a part of our history.

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?

We used home computers as well as the computers at school, home telephones, mobile phones, digital cameras, scanners in school, tape recorders, digital voice recorders, library books, newspaper articles and materials from the national archives.

There was one incident whereby some members of the group conducted an interview using a speakerphone, as the interviewee was very busy. They had to put the voice recorder very close to the speakerphone in order to record it properly.

These tools has helped us with sorting out our information and basically putting up our website.

2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.

For the Cyberfair project, we had to contact people for interviews, to find out information, or to obtain permission to use their photographs or information on our website.

We contacted: National Archives; Imperial War Museum through e-mail, Our Interviewees; National Archives; Mendaki; Sinda; Peranakan Association; Eurasian Association by telephone

We visited Sentosa; National Archives; Interviewees’ homes; places of historical interest; libraries (school and community)

We interviewed: Mr Aw Teck Chin, Mdm Choo Chooi Fong, Mr Hoe Lin Kit, Mr Koh Ban Hin, Mdm Lau Chye Doh, Mdm Lee, Mr Lee Kip Lee, Mr Lim Ah Ang, Mrs Lim Ming Zhen, Mdm Lim Yue Lin, Mdm Loh Lye Yong, Mdm Louise Branson, Mr Ng Ek Khiam, Mdm Rosalind Foo Juat Ngim, Mr Royston Tan, Mr Sitamparam, Mrs Sigamany, Mdm Sng Lang Keng, Mrs Tan Yoon Yin, Mr Tan Lam Yeong, Encik William Gwee

We researched: Books; National Archives (transcripts; photographs; oral interviews) We used Internet search engines, and visited the National Heritage Board website.

Most people, upon hearing our project title, thought that our project was an interesting one. For example, Dr. Ismail Sudderuddin, Director of the National Resilience Division, Ministry of the Information and the Arts mentioned that “[our] project is interesting and [he was] sure the [we] will benefit from it". Our teachers (especially our history teachers) also looked through the website and gave us invaluable feedback on the content and layout of our website. Some of our interviewees also helped us quite a lot, by giving us some useful information, giving us a lift to the nearest bus or MRT stop etc. For more, please read our acknowledgements

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

From our History textbooks, we learn about the famous people during the Japanese Occupation. However, civilians who managed to survive the war were not mentioned at all. We are certain that these civilians have many stories about the war to share. It took them much bravery and courage to live through such times of hardship. Thus we decided to make use of this website to bring these Unsung Heroes to the limelight. To do so, we tried to contact people of different races for interviewing, so that we could provide different points of view of the Japanese Occupation. We intend to give another dimension World War Two to the world, hoping that through the interviews we have carried out, we would be able to connect people who have survived the sufferings of the war with the younger generation, in an effort to bridge the gap between both generations. In this way, better understanding among the young and old can be built up. First hand accounts from the interviews would give valuable insights to how the survivors lived during the Japanese Occupation.

We have built the website to recognize these people, for the courage they have shown in surviving those harsh years, and also their invaluable contribution to the society during those trying times. We hope that through this website, more people would be willing to come up to tell us about their experience in World War 2 around the world, not just in the Japanese Occupation. We also hope that through this website, we have presented the Japanese Occupation in Singapore and Malaya from the human perspective, making history more interesting and allow students to have a deeper understanding of the past.

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

We contacted Sinda, Mendaki, Peranakan Association, Eurasian Association to look for interviewees. These prominent associations represent the different races in Singapore. We contacted them, as many people belong to these associations and they were able to provide us with contacts and names of potential interviewees. They certainly gave us quite a few, thus we had more people to interview and we were able to listen to more interesting stories of the war. These people include Mr. Royston Tan, Mdm Louise Branson, Mr. William Gwee, Mr. Sitamparam.

Our project also involved our family members of different generations. For example, Mandy’s parents were very enthusiastic about helping her take photographs of Fort Canning. Amanda’s aunt was also involved as she was excited to help her translate the interview with her grandfather for he spoke in a dialect called “Hokkien”. Even Samantha’s older sister, Miss Jaime Koh, helped by assisting her with the guestbook. We too, interviewed our grandparents who were more than willing to share their wonderful experiences with us.

Our parents helped most by bringing us to different places and giving us endless support by allowing us to go back to school to complete this project during the holidays. Our family members were also willing to spend some time to review our site, and give constructive comments so that we could improve on our website.

When we contacted the National Archives, National Heritage Board etc. to ask for the permission to use their materials on our website, they also offered some encouraging comments, and allowed us to use their materials. We also tried to contact the Imperial War Museum in the United Kingdom via e-mail for permission to use some of their photos too.

Our teachers also helped by setting up interviews with their parents and reviewing our web pages.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

Please refer to


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 2155)

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