Context Research about :
Topic 1 – What is Long Ya Men? The Historical Timeline. Why is it important?
Topic 2 – Who were the Secret Societies? How did they survive in urban Singapore?
Topic 1 – 14th Century Singapore
Long Ya Men (or Dragon’s Tooth Gate) is a granite outcrop which served as a key navigational point for ships entering and passing by Singapore’s main port of Keppel Harbour. It is most importantly the first historical documentation of Singapore in the maritime trade. It traces our history way back before Raffles even came. I believe it should be one of Singapore’s important cultural heritage as the identification of the outcrop by travellers at that time managed to tell a story on how Singapore’s settlements and communities were.
Why was it called Long Ya Men? Who first created that name? What was Singapore like before the 19th century? I started to question all these.
Even though the outcrop was no longer available (it was blown up by the British) and there were no photographs or accurate depictions of the time, recollections and accounts by known travellers documented as well as archeological evidences managed to create and justify this whole narrative.
Identifying Long Ya Men in a Timeline :
10th-13th Century (Before LYM Identified)
– Shipwrecks in Java Sea
– Malay Annales
– The Singapore Stone
> All these described the area around Long Ya Men as an active maritime trade route
14th – 16th Century (LYM Identified)
– Wang Dayuan’s travelogue Daoyi Zhilue
– Archeological Evidences
– Zheng He’s voyages & navigational map
> All these described Long Ya Men’s location and its inhabitants
19th Century (LYM Destruction)
– Arrival of British
Why is Long Ya Men important to current Singapore?
By exploring the history of Long Ya Men, we see the existence of Singapore before the arrival of the British in the 19th Century. The allusion to Long Ya Men in historical records and its association with the presence of established polities on the island, thus extending the Singapore Story further back in time.
Topic 2 – Secret Societies
“Secret Societies in Singapore: Survival Strategies, 1930 to 1950s”
A Thesis by Chwee Cheng Foon (NUS)