Cheong Yip Seng: Inside The Straits Times

There is a tide in the affairs of men Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Those lines from Julius Caesar certainly apply to Cheung Yip Seng, who loves Shakespeare. His musician father brought the family over on a ship from Penang to Singapore, where in 1963 Cheung, then 20 years old, got […]

Joseph Conrad and Singapore newspapers

I was pleasantly surprised to see the Straits Times mentioned in Joseph Conrad’s first novel, Almayer’s Folly. It’s at the beginning of Chapter 4: That year, towards the breaking up of the south-west monsoon, disquieting rumours reached Sambir. Captain Ford, coming up to Almayer’s house for an evening’s chat, brought late numbers of the Straits […]

Chulia Kampong, Singapore

Looking at Chulia Street off Raffles Place and Boat Quay now, no one would know what it was like before. Chulia Kampong, unlike Kampong Glam, has vanished from the map of Singapore. So I was intrigued by the description given by the Indian writer Amitav Ghosh in his novel, River of Smoke. The book, set […]

Gong xi fa cai! And a poem on Singapore

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his Chinese New Year message says: Ultimately we all want to make Singapore the best home in the world for ourselves, our families and our children. We all want ours to remain an inclusive, meritocratic society where every child has the chance to realise his dreams and aspirations. […]

Flash floods, Paul Theroux and loving Singapore

Flash floods hit Liat Towers and other parts of Orchard Road, reported AsiaOne, but PUB, whose tasks include flood prevention, begged to differ. No floods in Orchard Road, just “ponding”: Pub, said the headline in Today. “Flooding” did occur in a section of Cambridge Road/Owen Road, according to the PUB website, but not in the […]

Poems Singapore

I saw this book and loved it at first sight. How could I not with its poems about Singapore? It is called Words: Poems Singapore and Beyond and edited by Edwin Thumboo. As luck would have it, the very first page I opened had a poem by him about the transformation of Singapore. The poem, […]