Leave a comment

Asia Reborn: A Continent Rises from the Ravages of Colonialism and War to a New Dynamism by Prasenjit K. Basu

By P.N. Balji

Asia Reborn


Title: Asia Reborn
Author: Prasenjit K. Basu
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Pages: 708

Asia reborn… but what next?

He is a keen watcher of Asia, having spent the last 25 years putting the economies of this wonder continent under his microscope. Economist Prasenjit K Basu is eminently qualified to write this weighty tome, which runs into 680 pages. His research is painstakingly done with the notes and references alone going into 41 pages.

At first flush, Asia Reborn is intimidating. The title doesn’t seem to tell anything new and the voluminous nature of the book might put off many potential readers who want information on the go. Still, those interested in a deeper perspective of Asia and why some countries succeeded and others failed will find it worthwhile to plumb through its pages.

The author’s style is engaging; he makes sure that his research findings don’t interfere with his prose. He adds spice to his narrative with anecdotes that will keep the subject matter alive. For example, he brings to life one about Lee Kuan Yew. The former PM was among other students at Raffles College when they heard an explosion at the Causeway. The Allied forces had blown a hole in the Causeway to stop the Japanese army from moving into Singapore during the Second World War in 1942. The principal asked the students what the explosion was about. LKY’s reply: ‘That is the end of the British Empire.’

Continue reading


Leave a comment

Singapore: NAC withdrew approved grant to graphic novel due to “sensitive content”

National Arts Council (NAC) is withdrawing its earlier approved $8,000 publication grant to Malaysia-born award-winning comics artist, Sonny Liew due the “sensitive content” depicted in his 324-page comic book, “The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye”.

The book uses different forms of comic illustration to depict the life of a Singaporean artist which spans across 60-odd years of Singapore history. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Tribute: Remembering Lee Kuan Yew



by Zafar Anjum

On the 29th of March, the day Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was to be cremated after lying in state for a few days at Singapore’s Parliament House, I was on a flight crossing the Pacific. The flight attendant had given me a fat issue of The Straits Times (ST), Singapore’s newspaper of record, that presented memories of many Singaporeans whose lives had changed—immensely for the better—due to what Lee Kuan Yew had done for them. One of the writers of those memories was Patrick Daniel, the editor-in-chief of ST.

In his tribute, Patrick said that he had been a beneficiary of the Singapore system of meritocracy and multiculturalism. In one generation, Singapore had covered the long distance from poor mudflats to a first world nation status—a transition that many countries take centuries to achieve, and a mere pipe dream for a majority of nations. Patrick had, for example, moved from a humble wooden house to owning a piece of landed property in a coveted area in Singapore, worth several million dollars, in his own lifetime. He had risen through the ranks and had become a top editor in a short span of time in the world of Singaporean journalism. Continue reading

Leave a comment

The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Stella Kon

By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

Stella Kon 2014Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

It’s what I want to do more than anything else. At this time of my life, I want to use up all that I’ve got left – in this joyous task of creating new work.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

Current project – a musical about Dr Lim Boon Keng.

He was a man who gave his whole life to one ideal (to lift up the people of Singapore through education) and he ended his life in ignominy, disrepute, poverty. When I began this project 25 years ago I wanted to help rehabilitate him – bring him out from the cloud he had fallen under. This rehabilitation has happened since – beginning with Lee Kuan Yew’s tribute to him as an initiator of bilingualism.

I want to reflect what it means – to fight to the death for an ideal – and fail. I want to say that the most important thing is to do the task God gives you with integrity and courage – whether or not your efforts are rewarded with success, fame and glory… Continue reading

Leave a comment

Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew dies aged 91

leekuanyew-memoirsMr Lee Kuan Yew, who was Singapore’s first Prime Minister when the country gained Independence in 1965, has died on Monday (Mar 23) at the age of 91.

He was not just an ordinary politician but a superior orator and a very lucid writer–perhaps the writer of Singapore’s perennial bestsellers, his autobiography and numerous other books comprising his interviews and thoughts.

In 1999, Lee Kuan Yew published a two-volume set of memoirs: The Singapore Story, which covers his view of Singapore’s history until its separation from Malaysia in 1965, and From Third World to First: The Singapore Story, which gives his account of Singapore’s subsequent transformation into a developed nation. In 2005, Lee published Keeping My Mandarin Alive: Lee Kuan Yew Language Learning Experience, which documents his challenge learning Mandarin in his thirties and why it is important for overseas Chinese to learn and/or speak Chinese.

In 2011, Lee published My Lifelong Challenge Singapore’s Bilingual Journey which chronicles his struggle adopting Singapore bilingual policy in a multiracial society. Also in 2011, Lee published Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going which is a 458-page questions-and-answers book, in which he is interviewed by journalist from Singapore Press Holdings on issues which include the challenges he faced when Singapore first gained independence, the future political landscape, opportunities for youth in Singapore and also his personal views on homosexuality and family issues.

In 2013, Lee published two new books, The Wit and Wisdom of Lee Kuan Yew and One Man’s View of the WorldThe Wit and Wisdom of Lee Kuan Yew contains almost 600 quotations which provides a summary of his views on a wide range of topics on Singapore and the world. In One Man’s View of the World, Lee draws on his experience and insight to offer his views on today’s world and what it might look like in 20 years (source: Wikipedia).

Lee Kuan Yew Archives on his books and interviews

Mr Lee, who was born in 1923, formed the People’s Action Party in 1954, then became Prime Minister in 1959. He led the nation through a merger with the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, as well as into Independence in 1965.

He leaves behind two sons – Lee Hsien Loong and Lee Hsien Yang – and a daughter, Lee Wei Ling.

Read More