Saturday, February 11, 2012

Books on Politics in Singapore

These are recent titles on politics in Singapore:

A Nation Awakes: Frontline Reflections edited by Tan Jee Say. Few nations if any, have ever held two national elections in a span of four months. Fewer still are key players who took part in both. This book is the story of extraordinary men and women who fought Singapore's 2011 General Election in May and the Presidential Election in August. Together with their loyal and dedicated supporters, they displayed great courage and conviction, and in so doing changed the political landscape forever. The writers of this book represent a broad spectrum of Singapore society - student, teacher, university researcher, social worker, doctor, economist, lawyer, advertising, media and IT personnel, blogger, housewife and retiree. They cut across all age groups from their twenties to their sixties. They have come together in this book to relate and share their personal journey with Singaporeans. Unlike most post-election commentaries written by third-party observers, this book is unique as it allows readers to hear from the horse's mouth how in four short months, Singapore's single dominant party system has given way to the emergence of a politics of diversity with positive implications for the country's future system of government.

Breakthrough: Roadmap for Singapore's Political Future by Derek Da Cunha. The People's Action Party, the nation's ruling party since 1959, made Singapore a byword for political status quo. The electorate was known to be stolid, politically apathetic, indifferent. Until 2011. In a general election that witnessed Singaporeans' desire to alter the political landscape, the PAP saw its vote slide to an all-time low since Singapore's independence. The opposition Workers' Party secured six parliamentary seats. It was a significant breakthrough. Opposition parties have always been confronted with major obstacles on their road to Parliament, not least the multi-seat electoral divisions known as Group Representation Constituencies. With the fall of Aljunied GRC to the WP and the defeat of two Cabinet ministers, GE2011 shattered the ruling party's aura of virtue and invincibility. Breakthrough: Roadmap for Singapore's Political Future examines the circumstances and context of WP's parliamentary gains, and where almost 2 out of 5 Singaporean voters opted for an opposition party. Singapore's electorate, post-GE2011, is polarised between those who subscribe to the status quo and those who want it altered irrevocably. As a consequence, Singapore's political future is certain to be marked by unexpected twists and turns, many of which will likely be counter-intuitive.

10 Days: Chiam See Tong, the SPP and GE 2011 edited by Benjamin Pwee. This is a photo-journalistic record of the Singapore People Party's (SPP) GE 2011 campaign, published by sponsorship and donations from many supporters, to commemorate the SPP's involvement in a momentous period in Singapore's political history.This photo-book charts out the development of the SPP, from Mr Chiam the lone fighter, to the appearance of many new faces, to the formation of the 7-man team, competing in three constituencies: Potong Pasir, Bishan-Toa Payoh, and Hong Kah North.

A Watershed Election: Singapore's GE 2011 by Catherine Lim. Singaporean novelist Catherine Lim is also known as a commentator. Here are recent articles on the May 2011 General Election: a pre-election satirical squib; views on the significance of the Election's surprises; crystal ball-gazing on the political landscape ahead; an ironic view of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's legacy; a playlet which (perhaps) illuminates Lee Kuan Yew's personality and style; and ruminations on Singaporeans' identity. Ms Lim's two 1994 newspaper articles which provoked the then Prime Minister to pubic comment are appended.

The Singapore Democrats: 30th Anniversary Commemorative Magazine. Quotations from some of the world's major gurus, and top quality photo-portraits of members of the Singapore Democratic Party are major features in this magazine which celebrates the Party's first 30 years. The account of its foundation, vicissitudes, major personalities, struggles and present aims and programmes are set out with enthusiasm. The Party's international contacts and present membership are also highlighted.

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