Maxime Pilon, Author and IFS Teacher for Over 20 Years
Tuesday, 23 March 2021
As part of Lepetitjournal.com‘s 20th anniversary, Maxime Pilon was interviewed by Le Petit Journal to share his memories of the last 20 years in Singapore.
An IFS history and geography teacher since 2001 and co-author, with Danièle Weiler, of the book “Les Français à Singapour, de 1819 à nos jours“, he was made ‘Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes académiques’ in 2008. Maxime Pilon shared with Le Petit Journal his experience, the facts that marked him, as well as his vision of the city-state.
Find below an extract of the interview :
Hi Maxime, can you tell us what brought you to Singapore? Since when?
I arrived in Singapore in August 2001 to start my school year at LFS, Lycée Français de Singapour (now IFS). I was a National Service Co-operant (CSN) in Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City, then I spent 3 years in India from 1996 to 1999. I wanted to return to Asia. I applied to LFS and my CV caught the attention of the headmaster at the time, Mr Ténèze. At that time, LFS had just under 900 students in total. We were three history-geography teachers. For comparison, today, 20 years later, we have a new name (IFS), there are nearly 3000 students and we are about fifteen teachers teaching history-geography.
What support did the various French institutions in Singapore give you?
From 2007 to 2011, with my colleague, Danièle Weiler, we wrote a book on the history of the French community in Singapore from 1819 to 2010. This project was supported by the ambassador at the time, Mr Buhler. Thanks to his support, we had access to many archives in Singapore and in France. The book was very well received, especially at our conferences. Our publisher, Didier Millet, even received a letter from Mr Lee Kuan Yew himself!
The various staff of institutions such as the French Consulate, the FCCS or the Alliance française were really helpful, they also opened their doors to us. The book, written in French and English, which is still on sale, mainly at the Kinokuniya bookshop, tells the story of our community through the great periods of Singapore. The book shows that the French community has changed and grown! From 51 French people counted by the British colonial authorities in 1871, we are now close to 20,000, two centuries later. The last decade has seen a rapid acceleration in the number of French people, as the community has almost doubled in ten years. Danièle and I are waiting for the opportunity to complete our book and work on this last chapter.
Do you think Singapore has changed a lot in 20 years?
Singapore has changed considerably over the past 20 years. It’s a bit of a cliché to say that the city changes its face regularly, but it’s a reality. The heartland of HDBs and condominiums with the shopping centre as the city centre and the community centre not far away remains a constant, and the urban planning is quite similar.
Singapore’s technocratic leaders have been thinking long term since the very beginning of the city-state’s existence in 1965.
There are some things that do not change, such as food. Singapore gastronomic wealth is no longer in question, and UNESCO was not wrong when they included the hawker culture on the representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity on 16 December 2020.
Read the full story on LePetitJournal.com