Wednesday, June 02, 2010

NUS History Seminar: Why has Mr Vincent Cheng been barred from speaking? (correspondence continues

I got a reply to my original complaint to the National Library Board. The important point is that it assures Vincent Cheng will be allowed to attend the seminar as part of the audience. Here's our correspondence:

Dear Yi-Sheng,

Thank you for your email to all the members of the NLB Board. We would like to take this opportunity to explain the context and background to the seminar that you had raised concerns.

The National Library is the venue sponsor for the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Singapore History seminar organised by the NUS History Society. NLB had supported this seminar due to its focus on the personalities, events and agenda that shaped the history of Singapore. This was in line with NLB's focus for its heritage programmes and exhibitions which explored the role of key movers in Singapore's growth from a fishing village into a modern nation.

NUS History Society (NUSHS) had indicated that Junior College and Upper Secondary students were the target audience and that academics would form the line-up of speakers. The initial line-up provided by the NUSHS for NLB's support were academics from the local tertiary institutions researching on these areas. The academic exploration that the seminar would pursue was also in line with NLB's programming objectives to seek insights into Singapore's history through research and study. The late inclusion of Mr Vincent Cheng, by the society was not consistent with the direction of the initial proposed line-up, of academics, by NUSHS.

As part of our partnership and sponsorship conditions with all our programme partners, the content and details of the programme such as the panel of speakers need to be in line with the intent of the event and jointly agreed upon. For this particular seminar, the programme details did not follow the intent of the seminar based on our initial discussions with NUSHS. The final line-up of speakers provided by NUSHS include Assoc Prof Yong Mun Cheong, Head of the History Department of NUS, Assoc Prof (Adjunct) Loh Kah Seng of NTU, Assoc Prof Huang Jianli with the History Department of NUS and Assoc Prof (Adjunct) Kwa Chong Guan with the Rajaratnam School of International Studies at NTU and the History Department of NUS. Based on this line-up, the National Library is still working with the NUSHS to hold this public seminar this Friday. Mr Vincent Cheng, like any member of the public, is welcome to attend.

Amy Gay
Director, Communications


Dear Ms Gay,

Thank you for your reply. I'm glad that Vincent Cheng is welcome to attend as a member of the public, as I'd heard rumours that he would not even be allowed to be present in that capacity.

It remains my sincerest wish that Mr Cheng be allowed to speak as an official guest. However, on reading your reasons for Mr Cheng being excluded, namely that:

1. his inclusion was submitted late,

2. he did not thematically "fit in" with the panel of academics,

I believe it should be permissible for Mr Cheng to be excluded from a future event organised at the National Library, provided that the plans are submitted early and that his panel includes guests with similar backgrounds - e.g. charity workers, former detainees, or other people significant to Singapore's history.

Given the support for Mr Cheng, I fully expect such an event to be scheduled in the near future on your premises.

Yours sincerely,

Ng Yi-Sheng


Hi Yi-Sheng,
Thanks for your understanding and reply.

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