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National Gallery Singapore

National Gallery Singapore

The National Gallery of Singapore

The National Gallery Singapore is an art gallery that oversees an extensive collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian art, consisting of over 8,000 artworks. The Gallery is housed in two national monuments, the former Supreme Court Building and City Hall, making it the most significant visual arts venue and largest museum in Singapore.

A Tour of the National Gallery Singapore

  • Historical Documents in the former Supreme Court building:
    • Treaty of Friendship and Alliance
    • Raffles’ Regulations
    • 1824 Treaty of Friendship and Alliance
    • Third Charter of Justice
    • Proclamation of the Japanese Military Administration in Malaya
  • Historical Art and Culture in the Galleries include:

Treaty of Friendship and Alliance

National Gallery Singapore - Joy of Museums - Treaty of Friendship and Alliance

Treaty of Friendship and Alliance

The Treaty of Friendship and Alliance was concluded between the Honourable Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles and their Highnesses Sultan Hussain Mahummed Shah, Sultan of Johore, and Datoo Tumungong Sri Maharajah Abdul Rahman, the Malay chief of Singapore. The Johor Sultanate was the successor of the Malacca Sultanate. Raffles entered into this treaty in 1819, granting the English East India Company the right to establish a factory or factories in Singapore.

Modern Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles, an officer of the British East India Company, in an attempt to counter Dutch domination of trade in the East. The outright cession of Singapore took place in 1824.

While in Singapore, Raffles established schools and churches. He allowed missionaries and local businesses to flourish. A European town was built to segregate the population, separated by a river. He oversaw the building of roads and a military garrison constructed for the soldiers. He oversaw the development of a thriving commercial port for the British.

Treaty of Friendship and Alliance

  • Title:                   Treaty of Friendship and Alliance
  • Between:            East India Company and the Sultanate of Johore
  • Date:                   1819
  • Material:            Paper
  • Museum:           National Gallery Singapore

Raffles’ Regulations

National Gallery Singapore - Joy of Museums - Raffles’ Regulations

Raffles’ Regulations

This contemporary copy of Raffles’ Regulations, which were issued in 1823. These regulations represent the earliest attempt by the British to introduce a legal code for Singapore. The British assumed that no law prevailed on the island of Singapore when it was acquired.

Modern Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles, an officer of the British East India Company, in an attempt to counter Dutch domination of trade in the East. Permission to set up a “factory” on the island was obtained from the Sultan of Johor in 1819. The outright cession of Singapore took place in 1824.

Raffles passed a series of administrative regulations in an attempt to put the ‘rough-and-ready’ system of justice on a more formal basis. The regulation provided for the setting up of a legal administration. Magistrates were appointed, and “Native chiefs” were permitted to settle disputes amongst their people, subject to the control of the Magistracy. Raffles stipulated that the general law of Singapore would be English law, but modified for the ‘usage and habits of the people.’

The legality of the regulation is in doubt, as the treaty of 1819 only gave the right to establish a trading port in Singapore. It was not until the signing of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 that Singapore and Malacca were finally put under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Judicature in Calcutta.

While in Singapore, Raffles established schools and churches. He allowed missionaries and local businesses to flourish. A European town was built to segregate the population, separated by a river. He oversaw the building of roads and a military garrison constructed for the soldiers. He oversaw the development of a thriving commercial port for the British.

Raffles’ Regulations

  • Title: Raffles’ Regulations
  • Authorized by: Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles
  • Date:                   1823
  • Material:            Paper
  • Museum:           National Gallery Singapore

1824 Treaty of Friendship and Alliance

National Gallery Singapore - Joy of Museums - 1824 Treaty of Friendship and Alliance

1824 Treaty of Friendship and Alliance

The 1824 Treaty of Friendship and Alliance is also known as the Crawfurd Treaty or Final Treaty for the Cession of Singapore. This treaty ceded Singapore to the East India Company. The agreement was ratified by the British Supreme Government at Calcutta in 1825 and the British Parliament in 1826. This document allowed the British to confirm their title over Singapore.

The treaty is between the Honourable The English East India Company and their Highnesses, the Sultan, and Tumungong of Johore.  The Sultan of Johore signed it, His Highness Sultan Hussain Mahomed Shah and Tumungong of Johore, His Highness Datu Tumungong Abdul Rahman Sri Maharajah, and by John Crawfurd, the British Resident of Singapore.

The treaty was made possible by the conclusion of the Anglo-Dutch treaty of 1824, which demarcated the British and the Dutch spheres of influence in India and Southeast Asia. The Dutch ceded Malacca and their possessions in India in return for Bencoolen and other British possessions in Sumatra.

1824 Treaty of Friendship and Alliance

  • Title:           1824 Treaty of Friendship and Alliance
  • Date:          1824
  • Material:    Paper
  • Museum:   National Gallery Singapore

Third Charter of Justice

National Gallery Singapore - Joy of Museums - Third Charter of Justice

Third Charter of Justice

The Third Charter of Justice affirmed the English law in Singapore. By the 1830s, Singapore’s trade and population were booming, and increasingly powerful voices demanded the appointment of a separate professional judge for Singapore. This demand led to the Third Charter of Justice being granted.

The Third Charter revoked the Second Charter of Justice and created the office of the second Recorder. It was ratified and confirmed by an Act of the British Parliament. The Straits Settlements were to have two Recorders, one for Penang and the other for Singapore and Malaya. Sir Richard Bolton McCausland was appointed Recorder for Singapore. The Governor and Resident Councillors continued to be vested with judicial powers.

Third Charter of Justice

  • Title:                   Third Charter of Justice
  • Date:                   1855
  • Museum:           National Gallery Singapore

Proclamation of the Japanese Military Administration in Malaya

National Gallery Singapore - Joy of Museums - Proclamation of Japanese Military Administration in Malaya

Proclamation of the Japanese Military Administration in Malaya

This Proclamation of the Japanese Military Administration in Malaya was prepared in 1941, in advance of Japan’s victory. When the British surrendered Singapore in 1942, the Japanese established a military administration in Singapore.

The Japanese Military Administration took over the British administrative structures. All the courts under the British ceased to function. A Military Court of Justice of the Nippon Army was set up to administer Military Ordinances and the Laws of the Nippon Army. The Civil Courts eventually reopened, and the Syonan Koto-Hoin (Supreme Court) was established with a Japanese as the Chief Justice. All pre-existing laws were respected subject to military variations.

Laws that impacted the lives of Singaporeans included the currency to be used and laws mandating fixed price levels for goods. The Japanese formally surrendered in 1945.

Proclamation of the Japanese Military Administration in Malaya

  • Title:                   Proclamation of the Japanese Military Administration in Malaya
  • Date:                   1941
  • Material:            Paper
  • Museum:           National Gallery Singapore

National Gallery, Singapore

  • Name:                National Gallery Singapore
  • Established:       2015
  • Location:            1 St. Andrew’s Rd Singapore
  • Type:                  Art museum, Singaporean Historic Objects

Explore Museums in Singapore

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“A given excuse that was not asked for implies guilt.”
– Singaporean / Malay Proverb

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Photo Credit: GM

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