Singapore Gurkha Photography Museum

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.

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.

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.

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 Project Grant.

The Singapore Gurkha Photography Museum was founded in October 2014 by Zakaria Zainal.