Once upon a time, there were more Indian than Chinese voters in Singapore. Hard to believe but true.
Indians outnumbered the Chinese when the first general election to the Legislative Council was held in 1948. Only British subjects were eligible to vote. Out of a potential electorate of more than 200,000, only 23,000 registered to vote, and more than 10,000 of them were Indians, recalled CM Turnbull in A History of Modern Singapore, 1819-2005.
Continue reading “Indians in Singapore”
It’s amazing how much data has been preserved from the past. While listening to music today, I wondered what were the most popular songs during this week in 1966. That year came to my mind because it was such an exciting time in pop music.
Continue reading “Hits of May 1966”
When a young man came to Singapore from Calcutta many years ago, he didn’t know he was following in the footsteps of Sir Stamford Raffles. The one difference: He came by air. Raffles came by sea — on the ship Indiana, with his deputy, Major William Farquhar, on board another vessel, the Ganges.
Continue reading “Raffles, Singapore, Calcutta and Bengal”
Cherubic Cupid, winging his way with bow and arrows to shoot at hearts, graces countless valentines. The little Roman god of love has proved more durable than the Roman empire. What explains his lasting appeal when another god of love languishes in relative obscurity? Continue reading “What happened to the Hindu god of love?”
Naipaul was “the greatest prose writer in the English language of the last 60 years”, wrote Amit Chaudhuri in the Guardian when Naipaul died at the age of 85 on August 11. Others were more measured in their praise. They could not overlook his flaws and prejudices. Naipaul himself provoked criticism by what he said and wrote, admitting he had been a “big prostitute man”, ill-treating his first wife, Patricia Hale, and his long-time mistress, Margaret Gooding née Murray, and offending blacks and Muslims among others. Continue reading “Naipaul and his world”
Shakespeare Basics for Grown-ups comes with the subtitle: Everything You Need to Know about the Bard. That sounds rich, but the authors E Foley and B Coates deliver. Concise, comprehensive, it’s a great briefing on the Bard. Continue reading “Shakespeare Basics for Grown-ups”
Lavishly illustrated, The Globe Guide to Shakespeare is a joy to behold and a pleasure to read. Written by Andrew Dickson, with contributions by Joe Staines, this isn’t a musty, fusty academic treatise thick with jargon. As the authors say in the introduction, “Above all, this isn’t intended to be a textbook, and we hope it’s fun to read: our ambition throughout has been to demystify Shakespeare, to show there are interesting ways of thinking about his works without saturating them in academic jargon.” Continue reading “The Globe Guide to Shakespeare”