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  • Writer's pictureMario Teng

EP. 2 - FIVE KINGS

EPISODE SYNOPSIS:

The Kingdom of Singapura was ruled by a line of five kings. Each of them had a story that defined their reign.


 


THE SINGAPORE STONE:

In the Malay Annals, a strongman named Badang was described to have not only lifted a huge boulder with great ease but also flung the massive rock towards the far bank of the Singapore River. This story might be incredible but that stone was very real.


The stone was a sandstone slab about 3 metres high and 3 metres wide on the southeast side of the mouth of the Singapore River. References to the rock can be found in British correspondences and writings dating back to as early as 1819—the year in which colonial Singapore was founded. It was inscribed with about 50 to 52 lines of script but the meaning of the inscription had already been lost to the natives and weathering of the rock surface had rendered characters illegible. Since then, attempts have been made to decipher the inscription but the script remains a mystery.


However, the stone can no longer be found today. In 1843, it was blown up by the British to clear and widen the passageway at the mouth of the Singapore River, and create additional space to expand the existing Fort Fullerton. The heedless destruction of such an archaeological relic caused a stir behind the scenes. Three major fragments containing parts of the inscription were salvaged. Two were sent to British India for analysis but their whereabouts today are unknown.


As of 2023, the last piece, dubbed the Singapore Stone, is on display at the National Museum of Singapore.


The Singapore Stone, the first of 11 national treasures of Singapore.
The Singapore Stone, the first of 11 national treasures of Singapore. Image acquired from the National Heritage Board.

In 1972, the Merlion statue—the national personification of Singapore—was erected on a short extension from the stone's original site.


The original Merlion Park before relocation.
The original Merlion Park before relocation. Use Fullerton Hotel (in the back) as a landmark. Image acquired from Wikimedia Commons, "Ion Tichy".

However, when the Esplanade Bridge was fully constructed in 1997, the bridge blocked views of the statue from the waterfront and thus necessitated a relocation of the Merlion Park from the back of the bridge to its front.


The skyline of the Central Business District of Singapore with the Esplanade Bridge, The Fullerton Hotel, and the Merlion Park, in the evening.
The Esplanade Bridge and the new Merlion Park after relocation (towards the left end of the bridge). Use Fullerton Hotel (behind the bridge, in the centre of the frame) as a landmark. Image acquired from Wikimedia Commons, "Basile Morin".

 


ABOUT THE PODCAST:

The Story of Singapore is a history podcast created by Mario Teng, tracing the historical and political developments of Singapore, from a backwater kingdom in the 1300s to an economic miracle by the turn of the 21st century.


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EP. 1 - THE BIRTH OF SINGAPURA

Much of the early history of Singapore has been lost to time. We begin the story of Singapore from its mythical origins. Strangely enough...

EP. 0 - THE PREFACE

So much of who we are is where we have been. History may not seem all that important in this modern world but as we venture into a future...

EP. 3 - BAD BLOOD

Iskandar's reign spelt disaster for the Kingdom of Singapura. When the dust settled, there would not be a kingdom left to speak of.

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