Blogs, Whitman, Singapore

Bloggers, feel free to write on about Singapore on your blogs and personal websites, the Media Development Authority has said on Facebook, clarifying the new rules that apply only to news sites.

So words will continue to pour into cyberspace documenting everything on this island until blogging becomes passé and people find other forms of expression. Continue reading “Blogs, Whitman, Singapore”

Lee Kuan Yew and Margaret Thatcher

An amazing parallel runs through the political careers of Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of the Republic of Singapore, and Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first woman prime minister. Both began their political career at the same time and stepped down as prime minister on the same day.

Both laid down their office on November 28, 1990. Both were succeeded by their deputies: Goh Chok Tong became prime minister of Singapore, and John Major of Britain. Continue reading “Lee Kuan Yew and Margaret Thatcher”

Cheong Yip Seng: Inside The Straits Times

Cheong Yip Seng
Cheong Yip Seng

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 a job with The Straits Times.

Twenty-three years later, in December 1986, on a flight back to Singapore from Burma, the then deputy prime minister Goh Chok Tong asked him to become editor-in-chief of the English and Malay Newspapers Division of Singapore Press Holdings, The Straits Times’ owner and one of the most profitable media groups in Asia.

He might not have got the job, though, unless recommended by the man who later became  president of Singapore. Continue reading “Cheong Yip Seng: Inside The Straits Times”

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 Times giving the news of Acheen war and of the unsuccessful Dutch expedition.

It’s interesting because Conrad was writing in the late 19th century about a Dutch trader living deep in the jungles of Borneo. Continue reading “Joseph Conrad and Singapore newspapers”

Chulia Kampong, Singapore

Chulia Street, Singapore
Chulia Street, 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 in the 1830s, is about the opium trade between India and China which used to pass through Singapore. Continue reading “Chulia Kampong, Singapore”

Lost and found at Changi airport

changi airport

After landing at Changi airport, I got into a taxi and was on my way home when I realized my laptop wasn’t with me. I asked the driver to pull over and opened the boot, but the computer wasn’t there.

With a sinking feeling, I then remembered I had put the computer bag down on a chair in the arrival lounge while rearranging my luggage on a trolley. Continue reading “Lost and found at Changi airport”

Two lovely poems and a Singapore state of mind

People talk of a New York state of mind (below are the lyrics of the song by Billy Joel). Surely, there’s a Singapore state of mind, too. Continue reading “Two lovely poems and a Singapore state of mind”