7 hits that tell the story of S Rajaratnam
Posted: 22 Feb 2017, 1000 hours (GMT +8)
Who would have thought that marrying hip-hop with political history would enable the story of one of America's lesser-known founding fathers to be shared with packed theatres of musical goers, captivating thousands of people? Lin Manuel-Miranda's Hamilton brought Alexander Hamilton out of dust-covered history books and onto the Broadway stage. This is a guy who wrote his way out of circumstances from the get-go...it doesn't get more hip-hop than that", explained Miranda.
S Rajaratnam working in his office in the 1950s. (Source: National Archives of Singapore)
2. The Multiculturalism Advocate – If I Ain't Got You by Alicia Keys
Minister for Culture S Rajaratnam delivering a speech at the opening of Kota Raja Community Centre on 2 June 1963. (Source/Ministry of Information and the Arts, National Archives Singapore)
The fact that he penned our national pledge centred upon the idea of Singaporeans standing united "regardless of race, language, or religion" shows his strong belief that this must be at the heart of all we do. Rajaratnam drafted the pledge in 1966, at a time where tensions between racial groups were high. There was a pressing need to unite our people, and inspire commitment to Singapore if we were to survive.
3. The Freedom Writer – Read All About It (Pt. III) by Emeli Sandé
Minister for Culture S Rajaratnam delivering a speech at Singapore National Union of Journalists' luncheon at Cathay Restaurant on 20 February 1964. (Source/National Archives Singapore)
His flair for writing was not limited to political pieces. Rajaratnam was also a gifted literary writer. He wrote many radio plays and short stories in the 1940s and 1950s. In fact, one of his short stories, Drought, was included in a compilation published in New York, alongside illustrious writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald of The Great Gatsby fame!
4. The Anti-Communist – No by Meghan Trainor
S Rajaratnam speaking at a PAP election rally in 1959, when Singapore was facing the threat of communism (Source/National Archives of Singapore)
5. The Optimist – Shake It Off by Taylor Swift
Lee Kuan Yew meeting Minister for Culture S Rajaratnam and other officers in 1959. (Source/Challenge Online)
6. The Diplomat – Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes
Minister for Foreign Affairs S Rajaratnam having a talk with United States Secretary of the Treasury George Shultz in 1974. (Source/National Archives Singapore)
7. The Devoted Husband – Clarity by Zedd ft. Foxes
Minister for Culture S Rajaratnam, Singapore's Representative in the Malaysian delegation to the United Nations, was met by his wife Piroska Feher when he returned from the United States in 1963. (Source/National Archives of Singapore)
There can be only one Hamilton, just like there can be only one Rajaratnam. Through these songs, we get a glimpse of the man Rajaratnam was and his contributions to Singapore. In his eulogy for Rajaratnam, Lee Kuan Yew described his long-time friend's contributions to Singapore as largely abstract, yet crucial for a young nation; they were "not in brick and mortar, or concrete and glass, but in ideas, sentiment, and spirit". Indeed, his visionary ideas have influenced generations of Singaporeans, and his courage and optimism made overcoming many obstacles in Singapore's journey possible.