SEAS Alumnus Dr Kyle Latinis featured in The Straits Times, Thursday 3 August 2017

How S’pore team hit pay dirt in Angkor Wat, The Straits Times, Thursday 03 August 2017.

An archaeological field school from Singapore which set up a 12-day excavation at Cambodia’s Angkor Wat has helped unearth a rare, late 12th-century statue.

Buried in a pit about 40cm deep, the approximately 2m-tall sandstone statue, sculpted in the image of a guardian, was dug up last Saturday at the ancient Tonle Snguot hospital complex, just two days into a test excavation.

The find has been described by experts the world over as incredible and the most significant in recent years, since most of the site’s valuable items have been looted.

Speaking to The Straits Times, head of the field team, Dr Kyle Latinis from Singapore’s ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute’s Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre (NSC), said: “It is extremely rare to discover something so significant just days into our dig. We were lucky and in the right place. We also had a good sampling strategy.

“You do not expect to find statues with their heads intact at Angkor Wat because looters are rampant in these areas and most of the ancient Cambodian statues are held illegally in the hands of private collectors.”

The field school and excavation are funded by Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) at the cost of about $70,000, said NSC head Dr Terence Chong.

This is the field school’s fifth session. It is a three-week archaeological research and training programme held in Cambodia and Singapore. The site was selected by NSC as well as researchers from the Apsara Authority – the Cambodian state agency charged with managing the Unesco World Heritage Site.

The Singapore team scoped the project and sampling area and directed the excavation effort. This was done in consultation with Apsara Authority, the host partner. The aim is to investigate ancient hospital activities, habitation and structures.

The programme is designed to emphasise the history of intra-Asian interactions over the past 2,000 years and to create a regional identity and a community of scholars from East Asia Summit countries.

There are 14 participants this year, four of whom are from Singapore. The others hail from countries such as the Philippines and Cambodia. They are students and young professionals.

While NSC set up the excavation, the statue was recovered by Cambodian archaeologists, among others. It has since been moved to a museum for protection.

Archaeology undergraduate Natalie Khoo, 22, said: “To witness the rituals conducted for removal of the statue and the opportunity to work on this historical hospital site is an exciting and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The statue likely was one of a pair and flanked a temple or shrine area that was part of the hospital complex, said Dr Latinis.

He added that the statue likely collapsed near the original spot it was erected in, along with the temple wall. “Although the statue is broken in a few places, it is near complete. It likely collapsed after the site was abandoned,” he said.

He added that the other two sections of the hospital complex were dedicated to physical treatment and a medicinal plant garden.

About 100 hospitals were built by the 12th-century King Jayavarman VII, who reigned from 1181 to 1218. He was known as the king who had launched the largest and the most construction projects.

The Tonle Snguot site had likely been inhabited by a community before it became a hospital. It is unclear how big the hospital complex was as of now, and more work needs to be done.

Dr Latinis said that a lot of ceramics, statues and structural remnants have been unearthed so far.

“A whole bunch of questions on the architectural history as well as technological information and industry of the time will be answered,” he added.

by Melody Zaccheus, Heritage and Community Correspondent

View the original article.

Celebration for Southeast Asian Studies Graduating Class of 2017

On 10 July 2017, the Department of Southeast Asian Studies hosts a graduation tea party to celebrate and recognize our graduate’s achievements and their transition to an important new phase of life. Members of the faculty and student got together at the AS8 Level 4 Foyer for an al fresco tea reception before their commencement ceremony the same evening.

Congratulations to the Class of 2017!!

Wang Gungwu Medal & Prize

The Department of Southeast Asian Studies is delighted to announce that Mr Goh Aik Sai has been awarded the Wang Gungwu Medal & Prize (AY2016-2017) for the Best Masters thesis in the Social Sciences/Humanities for his thesis entitled ‘Enlightenment on Display: The Rise and Fall of Singapore Buddhist Museums’. (Advisor: Professor John N Miksic.)

Congratulations to Goh Aik Sai!

Support FASS in the 85th Anniversary Resilience Run on Saturday, 29 March 2014!

Date: 29 March 2014
Time: 7am to 1pm
Venue: NUS Running Track

In commemoration of their 85th anniversary in 2014, the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences, Dentistry and Science, are collaborating on a joint-launch project on Saturday, 29 March – the 85th Anniversary Resilience Run. Comprising a fund raising campaign, the Run symbolizes the resilience of the three faculties in weathering and overcoming various challenges over the years to become the uniquely successful institution that each is today.

For more information and to register for the event, please go to:

Resilience Run 2014

SEAS Alumnus Goh Kok Wee featured in The Straits Times, LIFE!, Saturday 27 October 2012

On a charted journey – They have spent $25,000 on their old maps but Goh Kok Wee and Serene Ng are still buying more, The Straits Times LIFE!, Saturday 27 October 2012.

While other couples bond over a movie or meal, civil servant Goh Kok Wee and Ms Serene Ng pore over an old map.

In four years, the married couple have amassed almost 200 antique maps and prints of Singapore, South-east Asia and China. These date back as far as the 16th century and are all originals.

“Isn’t is amazing that in the 1500s and 1600s, without satellites, people were still able to map the world so accurately?” says Mr Ng, 41, who holds a doctorate in management and is currently in between jobs.

The collection is stored in archival sleeves and tubes as well as folders with mylar paper in between to prevent the plastic from sticking to the paper. It is kept in an air-conditioned room in the couple’s executive apartment in Jurong East to protect it from humidity.

Most of the maps and prints were made by old European colonial powers such as France, Britain and Portugal, in languages ranging from Latin to German. Their creators include renowned cartographers such as the Flemish Gerardus Mercator and the German Sebastian Munster.

The prints of drawings or sketches document everyday life in 19th-century China, before cameras were invented.

Among the more outstanding items are a five-fold panoramic print titled View Of The Towns and Roads of Singapore From The Government Hill, made by a Captain Robert Elliot of the Royal Navy in 1830. Government Hill is today known as Fort Canning.

There is also a map depicting Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and British posessions in the Far East in the 1800s.

One item holds particular historical significance: a first-edition Singapore map from 1954, created to mark the island’s ascension to the status of city by King George VI.

The couple rarely take out the archived collection to view, although many of their favourites have been framed and hung on the walls.

Ms Ng says they have spent at least $25,000 on the entire collection. Each map usually costs them hundreds of dollars. The most expensive is a €1,600 (S$2,540) map of South-east Asia dating from 1641, made by Dutch cartographer G. Blaeu. Bought from a dealer in the Czech Republic, it bears colourful illustrations of knights and angels.

Mr Goh estimates that original early maps of Singapore by cartographic engineers from the East India Company can fetch US$800 (S$976) to US$1,200, depending on their condition. Some are as small as an A4-sized sheet of paper.

He says that maps with panoramic views of Singapore from the 19th century can be sold for up to US$3,000, depending on their condition. The 41-year-old adds: “Most people prefer to go on Google to see them but the feeling of holding a 200- to  300-year-old map in your hands is just different.”

Their collecting habit started in 2008 in Canberra. The couple were based in the Australian capital then because Mr Goh had been posted there. They stumbled on some old maps of the region in a vintage shop and realised that there were many affordable maps out there.

That was the spark for Mr Goh, who majored in South-east Asian Studies at university, while Ms Ng was struck at the stories that these old documents had to tell.

“To entice people to buy their maps, map-makers threw in funny monsters and creatures. Only in the 18th and 19th centuries did maps start to resemble the ones we know today,” says Ms Ng on how modern maps are unadorned with such aesthetic flourishes. “These were the things that intrigued us.”

Some pieces in their collection were acquired from overseas galleries on their travels. They are also in touch with dealers and tradesmen in Europe and the US, who alert them when interesting items come on the market.

Items they buy are then shipped to them with a certificate of authenticity.

The couple have two children aged 12 and eight. Mr Goh says: “We encourage them to look and ask questions. It’s very different from the Xbox but I think they are beginning to appreciate it.”

Asked what they will do with the collection in the long term, Ms Ng says they hope to leave it as a historical legacy to a local museum. Mr Goh adds: “I don’t think we will ever be done. We are continuously researching and looking for new editions.”

He adds with a laugh: “We are constantly trying to add to our collection. We save up to buy a piece of paper.”

By Nicholas Yong,

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Publication of Ms. Ng Sue Chia’s Honours Thesis (BA Hons, Cohort 2002-2003)

An Honour’s Thesis from the SEASP by Ms Ng Sue Chia (Honours Cohort 2002/2003) titled, “Threads of Gold: The Rise of Indochinese Enterprises in Terengganu” was spotted by a German Publishing house (VDM-Publishing) which approached her for the publication of her thesis. Retaining the original thesis title, the published book will be launched some time in September 2009 and available for purchase on and Nobles &

Congratulations to Sue Chia on this accomplishment!

Details of the book is noted below:

 Ng Sue Chia, Threads of Gold: The Rise of Indochinese Enterprises in Terengganu, Germany: VDM Verlag, 2009.

It has been more than 20 years since the Cham community settled en masse in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. Yet, hardly much is written about them. This book aims to provide an ethnographical study and examine the immediate history, networks and identity of the Cham Diaspora. The locals had assumed that they are either ‘Malays’ from Cambodia or ‘Vietnamese Muslim converts’. They are Muslim-Cham from Cambodia and Vietnam, who fearing the assaults of the Pol Pot regime and possible threats to their identity-and-religion, have from 1975 begun to flee to various United Nations-run refugee camps in Thailand, hoping to be resettled in Malaysia. From their initial occupations as petty traders and odd job labourers, they have emerged as successful textile and gold retailers in KT. They have also built a socioeconomic network within their community on which they could depend for various form of support.

This book would be of interest to anthropologists and political analysts who are studying minority group relations and the social- political dynamics of refugees-local population interactions.

About the Author: Ng Sue Chia graduated with a Second Upper Class Honours Degree from the SEASP in 2003. Upon graduation, she became a Media Planner with Mindshare Singapore, an advertising MNC based in Singapore, where her job regularly took her to the company’s New York office for work. She went on to do a M.A in International Political Economy at NTU on an IDSS Research Assistance Study Award. After her Masters, Sue Chia began work at the Homeland Defence Programme, Centre of Excellence for National Security, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU. She first worked as a Research Assistant and then as Research Analyst and is currently an Associate Research Fellow at the Centre.

SEAS Alumnus Wang Zineng featured in NUS Centre for the Arts (CFA) Artzone Magazine Issue 2, Aug – Oct 2007

One Cool Guy – Wang Zineng has chosen a route less followed by his peers in opting for a life dedicated to the arts, Artzone Issue 2, August – October 2007.

While others are busy climbing their way up the career ladder in the private or public sector, Zineng chose a subtler route.

What differentiates him from the rest of the recent crop of graduants is his eye for detail and an infinite appreciation of the arts, especially visual arts.

For Zineng, the arts scene is not about the glitz and the glam. The passion for art in him overpowers the conventional path material success.

Zineng has recently completed his honours thesis on Malayan batik painting in the Southeast Asian Studies Programme, NUS. Presently an adjunct assistant curator at NUS Museum, he is in charge of four projects: one involves setting up the second installation of NUS Museum’s exhibition on their permanent collection known as Highlights: Modern Southeast Asian Art Collection, which will run until 2008. In this project, Zineng helped to finalise the selection of artworks, identify the overarching themes of these works, and decide where within the NUS Museum to place these artworks. He also contributed to the exhibition brochure.

Unlike the movie Night at the Museum where dinosaurs were seen chasing humans and working at the museum seems like an exciting adventure, Zineng’s job requires more than just surface action. Besides having to do thorough research in preparation for exhibitions, he constantly needs to preserve a healthy rapport with the  staff, artists and other professionals.

When asked about his future plans, he spoke of studying textilemaking in Indonesia in August and will continue to develop theoretical and context-based bodies of knowiedge in Southeast Asian art and culture.

His interests are not confined to modern art. Instead he gets pleasure from firsthand research and keeping abreast with developments in the study of the ethnographic arts.

“My plans are simple; they revolve around only one requisite – that I believe what I do bears relevance and interest to people around me. If I ever stop believing, that is the day I discontinue making plans.”

Zineng shared his heartwarming memories of an encounter which took place at the end of an afternoon touring Bodies and Relationships: Selected Works of Lee Sik Khoon before it opened.

“Lee Sik Khoon’s wife came up to me and thanked me for putting into words what she has always lett about her husband’s art but could never express. Quite naturally, I felt a great sense of pride at that point.”

By Hanizah Abdullah, Artzone Contributor

View the original article.