Without his vision, Singapore would have remained an obscure, sparsely inhabited island of the Johore-Riau empire, and then a marginal part of the expanding Dutch East Indies. Raffles envisaged Singapore to be a key economic and strategic point of Britain's India-China and Southeast Asian trade, and founded a settlement and a free port for that purpose.
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Second, he stood for certain values. To him, Singapore was to be more than a trading settlement devoted to materialistic pursuits.
In the Footsteps of Stamford Raffles
He held strongly to moral principles on the dignity and equality of human beings, and advocated the abolition of the slave trade. He was an avid student of Asian languages, and took an interest in the botany and zoology of the Malay Peninsula and Archipelago. He therefore established a Singapore Institution dedicated to the study of the arts and sciences of Asia.
Finally, he suffered from the vicissitudes of life. He went to work in his teens to support his parents and younger siblings.
His first wife and most of the children of his second marriage died from tropical diseases. The ship carrying valuable scientific specimens of his work caught fire and sank. He himself died of a brain tumour one day short of his 45th birthday.
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Yet he has left an impressive record of great historic accomplishments. He wrote a notable two-volume History of Java , where he served as Lieutenant-Governor.
[PDF.39ol] The Duke of Puddledock: Travels in the Footsteps of Stamford Raffles
And most important of all, he gave the indispensable impetus to the founding of a new colonial settlement, which grew into modern Singapore. Barley, Nigel. London: Penguin Books, There he fell in love with all things Javanese and vaunted it as a place of civilization as he discovered himself as a man of science as well as commerce.
A humane and ever-curious figure, his administration was a period of energetic reform and boisterous research that culminated in his History of Java in and it remains the starting-point of all subsequent studies of Indonesian culture.
‘The Duke of Puddle Dock: Travels in the Footsteps of Stamford Raffles’ by Nigel Barley
Personal tragedy and ill-health stalked his final years in the East. Yet, though dying at the early age of 44 and dogged by the hostility of lesser men, he would still find time to found the city-state of Singapore and guide it through its first dangerous years. Here, mythologised by the British and demonised by the Dutch, he is more than a remote founding father and remains a charter for its independence and its enduring values.
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In this intriguing book, part history, part travelogue, Nigel Barley re-visits the places that were important in the life of Stamford Raffles and evaluates his heritage in an account that is both humorous and insightful. He originally trained as an anthropologist and worked in West Africa, spending time with the Dowayo people of North Cameroon.
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He survived to move to the Ethnography Department of the British Musem and it was in this connection that he first travelled to Southeast Asia. After forrays into Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and Burma, Barley settled on Indonesia as his principal research interest and has worked on both the history and contemporary culture of that area. After escaping from the museum, he is now a writer and broadcaster and divides his time between London and Indonesia.
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