Scenes 1 and 10

“Colonialism left by the front door but came in through a side window”, is how the situation in supposedly post-colonial Africa is poetically described in Nicholas Shaxson’s “Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and The Men Who Stole The World”. Decolonisation would have been a much bloodier process had the colonial powers not gamed the controls to ensure that they continued to control swaths of their “former” colonies’ economies.

In a rather twisted way, if one considers how a lot of colonial propaganda was driven by racial superiority and eugenics, the capitalism that drove colonialism brought together in Singapore diverse groups of peoples, ranging from hired coolies to indentured Indian slaves. Scene 1 starts with a surreptitious rewording of Guildford’s welcome from Shakespeare’s “ The Life of King Henry the Eighth” before introducing briefly some of the themes from the rest of Sarong Party.

The final Scene considers again the geopolitical forces that have brought us all to this place. The story of colonialism is one of blood, exploitation, and enslavement but at an individual level, we are often swept along with far simpler motivations and so find ourselves on this island. While Singapore has seen many masters over the centuries, our optimistic argument is that we can work towards an ever-improving society and find our own place in the sun.

Scene 1: Welcome (Overture)

Ladies and gentlemen,

A general welcome to this place
Salutations, and dedications this night to you
And fair content too

None here, I hope, in all this noble bevy
Has brought with you one care or worry
To the contrary
I hope you have a splendid time
We would have all be merry

Darling come take my hand
I’ll walk you through this party beyond your purest imaginations
A reverie teeming with contemporary implications
How the Fathers came, saw, and bartered
Union Jacked us off before they wandered off
Into the sunset, but don’t you forget, the sun never sets on this soiree

Anglophone, without a tongue of your own
Are you able to see
How the powers-that-be built the city
On the backs of legacies

Anglophone, Anglophone, let it be known
The things you thought that you owned are not home-grown

But enough of this chatter
Revisionist pitter-patter
Let’s drink to the health of the Commonwealth
Finders keepers, losers weepers
Here the sowers and the reapers
Grabbed their portion of power by stealth
Did you think they’d let you be
If they didn’t maintain this disparity
It left through the door but came in through a side window
So glory be! We’re having this party because
Anglophone is just a nicer word for former colony

Founder’s keepers, losers weepers!

Seek and you shall find, what was found and what was left behind

Scene 10

“Behold,” the man said
As he surveyed the shoreline
“I think we’ll find what we’re looking for here.”
Dreams of empire, unfettered opportunity
Naked ambition, disguised duplicity
It was all this and more
So the sun would never set over the isle of Singapore“Step to the left,” he said
As they stood before him in one straight line
“I think we’ll find what we’re looking for here.”
Dreams of empire, a greater co-prosperity sphere
Ruling with gunpowder in an underworld of fear
With violence and gore
So the rising sun would always fly over the isle of Singapore

Are you content to live as just another ray of sun
Are you content to live in someone else’s dream
Are you content to live as just another ray of sun
Are you content to live in someone else’s dream

“Look over there,” he said
“From here you can see the sunrise,
Even when it’s night the city lights make it seem like it’s forever day
On this his island where his fortunes lie
Sometimes a dream may blossom to be more than just a pie in the sky
When he looks across the shore
He finds the sun will always shine