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Singapore Gurkha Photography Museum


A Visual Online Archive

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Singapore Gurkha Photography Museum


A Visual Online Archive

 

In over six decades, the visual language of the Singapore Gurkhas remains the same.

These men from Nepal – famed for the loyalty and fearlessness – are recognised in uniform with their trademark broad-rimmed khaki hat. Since 1949, the Singapore Gurkha Contingent has been established in the Lion City (Kota Singa) as they live quietly among us. 

 
Portrait of Shivraj Thapa wearing the Nepali topi at Paya Lebar. Date: 1968. Photo Collection: Shivraj Thapa / SGPM.

Portrait of Shivraj Thapa wearing the Nepali topi at Paya Lebar. Date: 1968. Photo Collection: Shivraj Thapa / SGPM.

Studio portrait at a Paya Lebar studio. Arun Kumar Tamang with his wife, Meena Tamang and son – just 7 days old when this portrait was taken. By then, Arun has been in the Singapore Gurkha Contingent for close to eight years. Date: Sep 1972. Photo Collection: Aswin Tamang / SGPM.

Studio portrait at a Paya Lebar studio. Arun Kumar Tamang with his wife, Meena Tamang and son – just 7 days old when this portrait was taken. By then, Arun has been in the Singapore Gurkha Contingent for close to eight years. Date: Sep 1972. Photo Collection: Aswin Tamang / SGPM.

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Visual Representations


of The Gurkha community in Singapore

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Visual Representations


of The Gurkha community in Singapore

 

A visibly invisible community, their role was thrust into prominence during the communal riots in the 1950s & 60s – keeping the peace as an impartial force.

Yet, photographs, or visual representations, of the Gurkhas by the state and its organs, as well as the media depict them the same way as their boilerplate introductions: stern, steely and singular.

These personal photographs, scanned and archived from one retired Gurkha to another, revealed how important it was for these migrant sons to document their time here in Singapore. 

 
Singapore Gurkha wives and children sitting on the grass sandwiched between Block L (left) and Block M in Mount Vernon Camp. Date: 1971. Photo Collection: Aswin Tamang /SGPM.

Singapore Gurkha wives and children sitting on the grass sandwiched between Block L (left) and Block M in Mount Vernon Camp. Date: 1971. Photo Collection: Aswin Tamang /SGPM.

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Personal Photographs


Past and present

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Personal Photographs


Past and present

Arun Kumar Tamang (left) seated in the Motor Transport (MT) section office. The Singapore Gurkha seated beside him is his senior. Date: Unknown. Photo Collection: Aswin Tamang / SGPM.

Arun Kumar Tamang (left) seated in the Motor Transport (MT) section office. The Singapore Gurkha seated beside him is his senior. Date: Unknown. Photo Collection: Aswin Tamang / SGPM.

Shivraj Thapa and Sahabir Thapa sitting on the grass at Mount Vernon Camp, during the Dasain holidays. There was a Chinese man who visited the camp to take photographs of everyone. He returned to sell Shivraj a copy of this photograph. Date: 1970. Photo Collection: Shivraj Thapa / SGPM.

Shivraj Thapa and Sahabir Thapa sitting on the grass at Mount Vernon Camp, during the Dasain holidays. There was a Chinese man who visited the camp to take photographs of everyone. He returned to sell Shivraj a copy of this photograph. Date: 1970. Photo Collection: Shivraj Thapa / SGPM.

 

Titled Singapore Gurkha Photography Museum, it is the first photographic archive of the Singapore Gurkha community displayed publicly online.

These old photographs span from the 1950s till today – with a focus on the 1950s, 60s and 70s. 

 
Mangalsing Tamang’s daughters at Pasir Ris beach. Date: Early 1970s. Photo Collection: Aswin Moktan / SGPM.

Mangalsing Tamang’s daughters at Pasir Ris beach. Date: Early 1970s. Photo Collection: Aswin Moktan / SGPM.

Arun Kumar Tamang (6785) with two other Singapore Gurkhas at Pasir Panjang having a picnic. Date: Unknown. Photo Collection: Aswin Moktan / SGPM.

Arun Kumar Tamang (6785) with two other Singapore Gurkhas at Pasir Panjang having a picnic. Date: Unknown. Photo Collection: Aswin Moktan / SGPM.

 

Some of the archive’s objectives include:

  • To document and preserve precious photographs of the community during the establishment and early days of the Singapore Police Force Gurkha Contingent

  • To become an important visual archive for research and understanding of Singapore’s history

  • To provide a platform that facilitates conversation and understanding of a migrant community among Singaporeans or between them and the Singapore Gurkha community. 

 

*This first-phase of this project was supported by the National Heritage Board (NHB), Heritage Participation Grant.