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DIALOGIC @ ACJC: Confronting the Past

On the evening of 9th May 2013, more than 200 students from ten Junior Colleges had the fun experience of being taught by the guru of their teachers, Associate Professor Bruce Lockhart. Prof Lockhart, who is a member of the Department of History at the National University of Singapore, was invited to ACJC as part of DIALOGIC: The ACJC Distinguished Guest Lectures in History Series. The talk focused on examining the validity of the geopolitical term ‘Southeast Asia’. 

Prof Lockhart, with his charisma and humor, took us through thousand years of history of the region now known as Southeast Asia. He enticed us with knowledge of the historical and cultural “fault lines” within the region, some of which still exist or have a lingering impact to this very day. With his expertise, Prof Lockhart guided us through the tough question “Does Southeast Asia exist?” He brought to the fore the reality of disunity leading to interstate conflicts in the region. Critically, he highlighted the great potential of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), if these differences can be overcome. These scars of the past impede trust between nations, undermine efforts to build sincere friendships, and stymie effective cooperation. The region’s history truly haunts us. 
It is no exaggeration to say that the guest lecture was an eye-opening experience for us as it challenged our widely held beliefs, enriched us with new knowledge, and more importantly, encouraged us to ask the tough questions about why the past continues the plague the present. 
By Le Huynh Khuong Duy,