Sunday, August 30, 2009

Travel Guides with a Difference

Here at Select Books, we are always on the lookout for out-of-the-ordinary travel guides, whether in terms of their coverage or in the way that that content is conveyed. Here are three that caught our attention:
  • Shanghai Story Walks: Walking Tours Through Old Shanghai by Yvette Ho Madany. This guide book suggests 5 walking tours that will allow the visitor to take in Old Shanghai. Through the city's landmark buildings and residences, the hopes and dreams of taipans, politicians, actors, spies and dreamers who once inhabited them come to live.
  • Tour Of Qufu, A: The Hometown Of Confucius by Yang Zhaoming. Confucius, whose Chinese name is Kong Qiu, is a celebrated ancient Chinese thinker, political figure, educator and founder of Confucianism. His teachings and philosophy, preserved in the Analects of Confucius, have not only served as the foundation of much of subsequent Chinese speculation on an ideal man and government, but also deeply influenced Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese life and thought. Qufu, the birthplace of Confucius, has become a major destination for cultural tourism. Kong Temple, the Kong residence and Kong forest in particular present a fine exhibition of China's temples and its ancient scholarly life, its gardens and its tombs. A beautifully illustrated guide, this book takes the reader on an evocative cultural tour through captivating temples, palaces and gardens.
  • To Myanmar With Love: A Travel Guide For The Connoisseur edited by Morgan Edwardson. From helping a community library in New Bagan to breakfast with 2,700 monks in Mandalay, discover the secrets of savvy expatriates, seasoned travellers, and inspired locals. This guide book offers unique insights into dining, shopping, sightseeing and culture in Myanmar.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Books on Communism in Malaya

In addition to Voice of Malayan Revolution, Select carries a number of good books on communism in Malaya. Here are four we recommend:
  • Emergency Propaganda: The Winning of Malayan Hearts and Minds 1948-1958 by Kumar Ramakrishna. A referenced and documented study of the nature and role of government propaganda during the Communist insurgency in Malaya 1948-58. The aspects explored include: the background of the Malayan Emergency; the impact of the MCP on the confidence of both the terrorists and the rural Chinese; the British propaganda "mistakes" of 1948-50; the changed styles of 1950-52; the ideas and major impact of Templer's actions and policies 1952-54; the post-Merdeka propaganda and policy synchronisation 1954-58 and its contribution to the 1958 demobilisation of the MCP. The writer demonstrates how successful propaganda embraces not only the transmission of words and ideas but also their validation and in demonstrated deeds and actions.
  • The Rise and Fall of Communism in Sarawak 1940-1990 by Vernon L. Porritt. Communism, underpinned by a China that aimed to extend its influence in the region, was a significant force in Southeast Asia in the 1950s and 1960s, including Malaya. As Sarawak evolved from a British colonial outpost to statehood in the Federation of Malaysia, its social and political stability was threatened by communist insurgency. This book explains how communism was nurtured among the youth of Sarawak's ethnic Chinese community from the early 1940s, how it grew into a powerful guerrilla movement that survived for decades, how the movement was overcome, and the amnesty that saw the last of the Sarawak communist guerillas lay down arms less than 20 years ago. With some maps and black-and-white photographs.
  • Fong Chong Pik: The Memoirs of a Malayan Communist Revolutionary by Fong Chong Pik and translated by Chan Siew Yip. China-born Singaporean Fong Chong Pik or Fong Chong Pi alias "The Plen", (1926-2004) was an important force in the Communist Party from 1950 until his death. These memoirs, originally published in Chinese, offer Communist Party points of view on various aspects of the anti-colonial struggle, the policies of the People's Action Party, and underground activities including jungle guerrilla activities in Northern Malaya. The pieces are illuminating, savagely bitter, episodic and combative as well as at times ruminative and more humane than self-justifying. After the 1989 Peace Accords the author and his family lived along with other former comrades at the Peace & Friendship village in Southern Thailand. With black-and-white photographs and sketch maps.
  • In Pursuit Of Mountain Rats: The Communist Insurrection In Malaya by Anthony Short. This is a welcome reprint of the scholarly and widely-recognized 1975 account of the Communist insurgency in Malaya, 1948-1960. Making use of much first-hand material and with access to many official records, this detailed study remains essential reading for anyone seriously interested in understanding the crucial events of the period which gave rise to the present political/social shape of Malaysia and its neighbours.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Book Launch: Indonesia Rising

The book launch for Indonesia Rising: Islam, Democracy and the Rise of Indonesia as a Major Power by Dr. Nasir Tamara will be held on 27 August 2009.

The Guests of Honour at the event will be Mr. Zainal Abidin Rasheed, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and His Excellency Mr. Wardana, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to Singapore.

There will also be a panel discussion on recent developments in Indonesia.

Date: 27 August 2009

Time: 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

Location: The Pod, National Library Board, 100 Victoria Street, Singapore 188064

If you would like to join us for this event, please email us at

Monday, August 17, 2009

Igniting Thought, Unleashing Youth on 938live

Igniting Thought, Unleashing Youth was mentioned in 938live's website on 15 August, the day it was launched. The article is linked here, and is quoted in its entirety below:

Countering extremism among Muslim youths here a priority

How do you nip extremism in the bud?

Well, through youths of course.

This is one proposal included in an inaugural book called "Igniting Thought, Unleashing Youth" launched by the Youth Wing of the Association of Muslim Professionals.

The book was written by a group of youths who are dissatisfied with the lack of books on youths and activism.

Mr Mohamed Nawab Mohamed Osman is one of the authors and he argues that many of counter-extremism strategies do not focus on youths.
This, he says, might be a cause for concern as more and more extremists are becoming younger.

"Now one of the chapters in the book actually looks at counter-extremism and new ideas are being proposed, essentially how we can improve some of the measures that we have taken right now in terms of counter-extremism efforts. A lot of these programmes are not exactly targeting youths and they're not exactly effective in trying to get youths involved in many of the programmes."

Some other topics discussed include the future of muslim youths here, as well as setting the agenda for their progress in terms of science and technology.

Mr Mohamed Nawab adds that he believes this book will bring new insights to issues the Malay Muslim community faces.

"Essentially this is probably the first time a book like this is published because you have a bunch of young scholars essentially looking at issues close to the hearts of many Muslim youths in Singapore. And as such, I think it's also an avenue essentially for our young scholars to express their views and opinions about some of the problems that the Malay Muslim community is facing in Singapore."

In an effort to encourage more muslim youths to speak up on issues that they are passionate about, the association will be launching its inaugural essay competition for pre-university and university students.

The top six essays will be compiled into their second publication.

Voice of Malayan Revolution

Select Books is pleased to announce that we have been assigned the exclusive worldwide (outside of Singapore) distribution rights for Voice of Malayan Revolution.

Published by the S. Rajatratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological Institute, this volume, which is edited by Professor Wang Gungwu and Mr. Ong Weichong, reproduces a selection of broadcasts by the infamous "Suara Revolusi Malaya" or "Voice of Malayan Revolution".

The "Voice of Malayan Revolution" was an attempt by the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) to subvert the populations of Malaysia and Singapore and win them over to their revived revolutionary cause through the conduct of a clandestine radio war. From a Chinese military base in Hunan, China, the CPM's underground radio network transmitted under the codename Project 691 and on the airwaves as "Suara Revolusi Malaya" from 1969 to 1981.

These hitherto classified transcripts of the Internal Security Department (ISD), Singapore, are supplemented with an introductory essay and chapter introductions.

As the book review in The Straits Time, 7 August 2009, notes:

The ISD's decision to release its transcripts of VMR broadcasts follow its release of a compilation of Freedom News, a communist party publication. Releasing these archival records is to be applauded, because they will provide the basis for a fuller and more nuanced understanding of our recent past.

There are two editions - a normal edition and a researchers' edition. The researchers' edition includes a CD of the original transcripts.

Select Books has also been assigned the exclusive worldwide (outside Singapore) distribution rights for Freedom News: The Untold Story of the Communist Underground Publication.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hike It! Bras Basah & Waterloo book launch

The book launch for Hike It! Bras Basah & Waterloo was held on 9 August 2009 at the Mint Museum of Toys. We had a very good turn-out, helped no doubt by the opportunity to visit Mint, a very special, nostalgia-inducing museum. We were particularly pleased that Mr Michael Koh, CEO of the National Heritage Board, and Mr Chang Yang Fa, owner of Mint, could join us.

Hwye Min and Po Linn, the author, spoke and then Po Linn signed books, while guests enjoyed a simple reception and toured Mint.

Here are photos from the day:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Book Launch: Igniting Thought, Unleashing Youth

Igniting Thought, Unleashing Youth: Perspectives on Muslim Youth and Activism in Singapore, a co-publication by Select Publishing and Young AMP will be launched this Saturday (15 August).

Theme: "Creativity & Criticism: Unveiling Ironies"
GOH: Mr Imram Mohamed, Chairman of AMP
Moderator: Dr Sharon Siddique
Panelists: Dr Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied, Alfian Sa’at, Alvin Tan & Rizwana Begum
Date: Saturday 15 August 2009
Time: 10.00 am - 12.30 pm
Venue: The Pod, National Library Board, 100 Victoria Street

10.00 am - Registration
10.40 am - Book Launch
10.45 am - Panel Discussion
11.45 am - Network Tea

About the Moderator:
Dr Sharon Siddique is the Director of Sree Kumar Siddique & Co., a regional research consulting firm. Dr Siddique is a noted authority on Islam in Southeast Asia and has written extensively on social, cultural, and political developments in the region

About the Panelists:
Dr Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied is Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore. His research interests include Colonial History, the History of Ideas, Ethnic Minorities and Social Identities

Mr Alfian Sa’at is a writer, poet, and a playwright. He is is currently the resident playwright of theatre group Wild Rice He is currently enrolled for an undergraduate course at the School of Communication and Information at NTU

Mr Alvin Tan is Founder and Artistic Director of The Necessary Stage (TNS) and co-Artistic Director of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival. One of the leading proponents of devising theatre in Singapore. He has a BA from the National university of Singapore, a Diploma in Education from the Institute of Education, and an MA from the University of Birmingham.

Ms Rizwana Begum is the author of the chapter titled “Singapore Youth and Internet-Mediated Muslim Identities: Negotiating with Traditional Authority”. She is a former broadcast journalist and an avid researcher. Her sociological research focuses on the Malays in Singapore. In particular, she examined the entrepreneurial activities amongst Singapore Malays and the diverse understandings of Islam held by the same community.

About the Book:
This collection of essays by young Malay/Muslims provides a refreshing, if somewhat provocative, alternative to the views that currently permeate the local Malay/Muslim community. The sometimes self-critical, yet always constructive, reflections, sample the psyche and the thought processes of young members of minority group in a heterogeneous society. They straddle ideas on the effects of Islamic extremism and radicalism; the implication and the utility of the internet; the impact of the environment on Islamic Thought and Practices; the current state of Muslim women activism; the critical need for inter-racial interaction; the urgency to emphasize education and scientific understanding; the future role of Malay/Muslim Youth Activism in Singapore. Crucially, the essays ask how young Malay/Muslims should develop a religious and a cultural identity alongside a Singaporean urban identity.

About the Theme:
“Creativity and Criticism: Unveiling Ironies”
Being talented and non-confrontational, Singaporean Muslim youths may adopt creative means to communicate their worldview and aspirations. In doing so, they may redefine ‘creativity’ and ‘criticism’. Would the State welcome the adoption of creativity for other ends rather than its own material end? Would the Muslim community be ready for non-mainstream modes of criticism such as satire, parody, or blasphemes? More importantly, can an uncritical mind be a creative and a Muslim one?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Goh Chok Tong

Impressions Of The Goh Chok Tong Years In Singapore was launched recently. This is the ST article on the book launch. Here are three books that feature SM Goh:
  • Impressions Of The Goh Chok Tong Years In Singapore edited by Bridget Welsh, James Chin at el. Singapore experienced substantial changes during the 14-year tenure of the country's second Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong (1990-2004). Coming after a long period of growth and stability, the period brought to office a new generation of political leaders who faced the task of sustaining and building upon the policies of their predecessors. There were social and cultural initiatives and significant challenges to the economy arising from the Asian crisis of 1998 and the SARS outbreak in 2003. This volume examines the changes that took place during the Goh premiership and assesses its legacy. The 45 essays in the volume review a range of issues from domestic politics and foreign policy to economic development, society, culture, the arts and media.
  • From Kuan Yew To Chok Tong And Beyond; The Untold Singapore Story 2 by George Nonis. Political cartoonist, George, takes another look at PAP's Singapore where commentators are ever conscious of the out-of-bounds markers and anticipated official disapproval. This second volume of cartoons of "The untold Singapore story" is a welcome addition.
  • Metaphor And Public Communication: Selected Speeches Of Lee Kuan Yew And Goh Chok Tong by Ong Siow Heng and Nirmala Govindasamy-Ong. Metaphors are an integral part of any memorable speech or engaging text. They have an uncanny ability to condense and distil truths. A good metaphor entices the imagination and invites the mind to wander, all the while under the direction determined by the genius who crafted the metaphor. This book celebrates the use of the metaphor in public communication by examining the persuasiveness of metaphors used in crucial speeches at key points in Singapore's history made by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, from 1950s to the late 1980s. The authors hope that this study will show how the speakers adapted their messages to their social context; illustrate what makes metaphors effective; and encourage the appreciation of the craft of public address in Singapore.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Nature in Southeast Asia

Books on nature in Southeast Asia is another area in which Select Books has slowly established a niche in. We were approached by National Parks to help to manage the books gift section in the 2008 Singapore Garden Festival. It was a good experience for us, and we've gone on to establish a respectable collection of book on nature and gardening. Here is a list of our popular books on nature in Southeast Asia:
  • Raffles' Ark Redrawn: Natural History Drawings from the Collection of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles by H.J. Noltie. An illustrated catalogue of the 123 colourful natural history drawings of the Raffles Family Collection, acquired by the British Library in 2007. In February 1824, Sir Stamford Raffles and his wife Sophia set sail for Britain on the Fame, with the collections made during his years of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. These included two to three thousand drawings, priceless Malay manuscripts and living animals, including a tiger specially tamed for the trip. Tragically the ship caught fire with the loss of all the collections. During the next ten weeks until the next boat sailed, a Chinese and a French artist managed to replace about 80 of the drawings that, with earlier drawings, including some made on the Malaysian island of Penang for the East India Company surgeon William Hunter, form the core of the collection.
  • Private Lives: An Exposé Of Singapore's Mangroves edited by Peter Ng and Wang Luan Keng et al. The immense ecological importance of mangroves is increasingly being recognised by planners but perhaps not by the general public. Singapore has already lost 90% of its mangroves. Scientists and photographers have worked together in this study of the inhabitants of the remaining 10%. The need for replanting and diversity of endurance of the many inhabitants of the mangroves is made clear. The many parts they play in the maintenance of ecological health even in today's largely urban situations are highlighted. With colour photographs, scientific identification data, bibliography and index.
  • Pitcher Plants of Borneo by Anthea Phillipps; Anthony Lamb and Chien C Lee. All the 36 species of pitcher plants currently known from Borneo are covered in this lavishly illustrated second edition. There are detailed accounts of each species, written in an accessible style and including quotes from the works of old explorers and collectors. The non-scientific but informative style of the first edition, published in 1996, has been maintained, whilst new species have been added, and information and taxonomy updated. With excellent colour photographs, references and index.
  • Brighten Your Life With Orchids: A Beginner's Guide to Growing Orchids in the Tropics by Eric Simon. A former officer of the Selangor Agriculture Department, Eric Simon is these days a horticulture consultant and an orchid show judge. He has more than 40 years of experience with orchids under his belt. In this fully illustrated handbook, he gives orchid fanciers a chance to successfully grow their own vandas, dendobriums, cattleyas, phalaenopsis, oncidiums and terrestrials. He offers instructions and advice in layman language on orchid type, growing conditions, propagation methods, fertilizers, potting, pests, and other crucial factors for getting the best out of orchids in a tropical climate.
  • A Photographic Guide to Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore by G. Davison and Chew Yen Fook. The forests and coastline of Peninsula Malaysia and Singapore are home to a fantastic and vast array of birds, and offer many outstanding and easily accessible birdwatching locations. This text is a compact, easy-to-use bird identification guide designed to suit any birdwatcher visiting Malaysia and Singapore. It features thumbnail silhouettes, two regional distribution maps showing the best birding localities, tips on birdwatching and information on bird biology and behaviour. A total of 252 species of the commoner and more conspicuous birds from a wide range of habitats are featured.