Singapore | Asia Samachar | 2 Aug 2015
“I knew that my late father worked hard to excel academically. He went from kampung to Raffles Institution and university, but had to study by a street lamp because there was no electricity,” recounts BBC’s Sharanjit Leyl when connecting with her family roots in Singapore.
This was part of a documentary to reflect on Singapore’s 50th anniversary as an independent nation.
“His story was very similar to (former Prime Minister) Goh Chok Tong’s and countless other young, determined Singaporeans at the time who wanted to succeed and contribute to the nation’s development,” she adds in an interview published by Singapore newspaper Today.
The article was timed with the re-airing of the BBC documentary, Singapore At 50, which aired yesterday. It will also run today (Aug 2) at 5.10pm on BBC World News (Starhub Ch 701). It was originally aired in February.
In an earlier article, Singapore at 50: From swamp to skyscrapers, Sharanjit captured how her grandfather, Fauja Singh, made his way from Punjab, India, to Singapore in the 1930s at the age of 17.
“Fauja worked in jobs ranging from night watchman to milk vendor and moneylender. When he had made enough money he went home to fetch his brother, sister and young bride from Amritsar,” she writes.
Today, only three of his 15 grandchildren still live in Singapore.
“I chose to return after many years away in the US, Canada and Japan. What made me come back? The same reasons my grandfather came – opportunity,” she wrote in the same article.
BBC’s Sharanjit: Watching my country mourn from afar (Asia Samachar, 30 Mar 2015)
Rare Bhai Maharaj artefacts on display (Asia Samachar, 5 July 2015)