Individuals: Sir Stamford Raffles

Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley RafflesPhoto Credit: Engraved by Thompson, from a Miniature in posession of Mr. Raffles

The only thing I knew about Sir Stamford Raffles before was his founding of Singapore.  And that the biggest, stinkiest flower in the world is named after him.  But other than that, I didn’t know so much about him.

Then I was reminded by The History Channel that it’s because of him that we can now appreciate the ancient monument of Borobudur.

That made me even more interested in him.

Borobudur Java Indonesia

Photo Credit: 22Kartika

So upon gathering information about Sir Stamford Raffles, I found the following passage regarding his administration of the East Indies:

Unlike many other European colonizers, Raffles did not impose upon the colonized the language, culture, or other aspects of the colonizer.  In addition to preserving the artifacts, fauna, and flora of his colonies, he also allowed religious freedom in his colonies, especially important as the Malay states were largely Muslim.  However, Christian schools were started by missionaries in all of his colonies.

Jackson Plan Singapore

What has been the effect of Sir Stamford Raffles’s leadership?

What happens if we don’t respect other cultures?  What happens when we do?

Singapore skyline dusk Boat Quay

Photo Credit: chenisyuan

But what I love most about Sir Stamford Raffles is that he was a man of learning.

He “wrote and published a book entitled History of Java, describing the history of the island from ancient times.”

Raffles collected samples of local species of plants and animals, as well as described them in his journals.  He also described other local tribes and their customs, especially their religions and laws.

And “Raffles was a founder (in 1825) and first president (elected April 1826) of the Zoological Society of London and the London Zoo.”

Rafflesiaceae engravingJoseph Wolf illustration Aethopyga siparaja

Photo Credits: and MPF


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