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Raffles and his East Indiamen

What a coincidence that India celebrates its independence on August 15 while Singapore’s National Day is August 9. Singapore’s founder, Sir Stamford Raffles, arrived on the island in on 29 January 1819 from Calcutta (now Kolkata) in India. Even the ship he sailed on was named Indiana. I couldn’t find […]

Indians in Singapore

The proportion of Indians in Singapore has increased to pre-independence levels. The 353,000-strong community makes up 9.2 per cent of the population, according to the Singapore Department of Statistics. We are referring to the 3.73 million resident population, comprising Singaporeans and permanent residents, and not the 4.99 million total population, […]

Back in Singapore

As the plane broke through the cloud cover, the pilot announced we were approaching Singapore. A lush green land stretched below us — and then came the sea. We had been flying over Malaysia. The view was glorious. The sea, wide and deep, dotted with little islands, offshore platforms, ships […]

Indira Gandhi and Lee Kuan Yew

  Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew is compared to Indira Gandhi by the Indian journalist, Sunanda Datta-Ray, who once worked for The Straits Times. In his book, Looking East to Look West, exploring India-Singapore relations, based on his interviews with MM Lee, he writes: Lee and Indira Gandhi shared […]

Kipling, race and religion

The uproar in Singapore against Pastor Rony Tan, who was questioned by the authorities and had to apologize for mocking the religious beliefs of Buddhists and Taoists, reminds me of the controversy surrounding a famous writer. Rudyard Kipling was born in Mumbai, in the JJ School of Art, where his […]

Two poems about Singapore

One poem leads to another. Reading Reflecting on the Merlion: An Anthology of Poems edited by Edwin Thumboo and Yeow Kai Chai, and co-edited by Enoch Ng, Isa Kamari, and Seetha Lakshmi at the public library, I wanted to read more poems about Singapore. And, as luck would have it, […]

A book of poems about the Merlion

At the pubic library, I came across a book of poems entirely about the Merlion, the lion-headed, fish-tailed icon of Singapore. The book is called Reflecting on the Merlion: An Anthology of Poems. It's edited by Edwin Thumboo and Yeow Kai Chai, and co-edited by Enoch Ng, Isa Kamari, and […]

Men In White: More

Officials fallen out of favour were said to be airbrushed out of pictures in the Soviet era. Something similar happens in Men In White, the history of Singapore's ruling People's Action Party. Devan Nair vanishes from the pages of this book after he gives up his seat in parliament to […]

Men In White

Stop press! Men In White, the history of Singapore's ruling People's Action Party, has been flying off the shelves of local bookstores and a third printing of 10,000 copies has been ordered, reports the Straits Times. Er, wouldn't it be better to correct a few spelling mistakes and grammatical errors […]

The Singapore Grip

The Singapore Grip by JG Farrell Anyone who loves Singapore should read The Singapore Grip by JG Farrell. He won the Booker Prize in 1973 for The Siege of Krishnapur about the 1857 War of Indian Independence. The Singapore Grip is also a historical novel, describing Singapore at the time […]