Articles: Books/Reviews

Confucius Confounded: The Analects of Lee Kuan Yew (2011)

20 February 2011

Francis Seow is one of the few dissidents who challenged Lee’s invincible PAP – and he paid for his beliefs, having spent more than two decades in exile, following a period of detention in S'pore.

This book is partly a companion volume to To Catch a Tartar: A Dissident in Lee Kuan Yew's Prison. The compilation of views and experiences of the writer, who was once Solicitor General of Sinagpore, makes for interesting reading as few Sinagporeans criical of the Singapore Government have written about the real state of affairs in the country.

Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (2010)

26 June 2010

Fans of the campus novel keep a special place on their shelves for Morris Zapp, the cocksure protagonist of David Lodge's 1975 novel Changing Places. Zapp is an American professor of English literature whose ambition is to write a series of commentaries on Jane Austen's novels that are so authoritative, they will settle debate on the subject once and for all. By the end of the novel, Zapp's passion has dissipated, his illusions about the nature of literary criticism stifled in the musty corridors of an English red-brick university, lair of the underachieving Philip Swallow. The epitome of all the wishy-washy indecisiveness that sticks in Zapp's craw, Swallow adopts, as his own modest dream of glory, the publication of a collection of his favourite exam questions, "as pregnant and enigmatic as haikus".

Once A Jolly Hangman (2010)

24 March 2010

A recently published book in Malaysia describes in detail how Singapore hangs its drug traffickers and convicted murderers. Near the execution date, the prisoner is weighed to determine the length of rope necessary to ensure a quick death.

Beyond The Blue Gate (2010)

24 March 2010

Lawyer Teo Soh Lung's memoir of her 21 May 1987 arrest and framing by the Singapore authorities as part of the so-called 'Marxist consipracy' is a remarkable document. Not only does it show how a person of courage and integrity can speak truth  to power, but it also illustrates how that power corrupts and destroys the souls of those who wield it unscrupulously. One day a Singaporean Truth and Reconcilliation Commission will determne the truth of the PAP years. Until this happens, this memoir will serve as an essential benchmark.

- Peter Carey, Fellow Emeritus, Trinity College, Oxford

A tale of two city-states (2010)

07 February 2010

It has often been said that democracy is not endemic to Asia, or that its development is inevitably stunted by so-called "Asian values” or "Chinese characteristics.” Opponents of this view, meanwhile, argue that modernization leads to democratization as an increasing number of groups and individuals are empowered and therefore become more prone to challenge the authorities. This has led to the belief — and hope — that modernity, oft-defined as the adoption of capitalism, will transform a state from within and initiate the process of democratization.

The Farjar Generation (2009)

15 November 2009

The University Socialist Club (USC) was formed in February 1953.

In the 1950s and 1960s the USC and its organ Fajar were a leading voice advocating the cause of the constitutional struggle for freedom and independence in peninsular Malaya and Singapore.