Negotiating time in British Malaya : colonial Singapore’s role in time legislature, 1895 – 1933
Teo, Grace Jie Ying
Date of Issue2017
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
This paper argues that the various time changes in Singapore and British Malaya between 1895 to 1933 were products borne of influence from international agreements, yet more strongly bear the marks of local negotiation. Being arbitrary in nature, time offsets in the form of mean times, standard times, and daylight saving times were socially determined, negotiated, and sustained, by the circulation of ideas, objects, and actors. By paying attention to the state of events on the ground – in other words the colonial realities, we find that decisions involving time legislature were mediated by logistical and political difficulties and concerns, the participating intermediaries of whom were a diverse group of human actors with varied interests. I argue that these local circumstances transformed the simple and uncontested adoption of time from Greenwich to a negotiated adaptation. Although decision-making processes were attuned to contemporaneous developments outside Singapore, colonial sensitivities, first and foremost, influenced the outlined trajectory of time changes between 1895 to 1933.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University