5 Books You Must Read Before Coming To Singapore

Because They Are Banned In Singapore! If you browse through ten books, written on Singapore’s history and how the nation transformed into the expat friendly, economically booming Disneyland it is today, nine will tell you the story through pink-foggy glasses, one will talk about the reality. Before you come to Singapore you get the chance… Read more »

Because They Are Banned In Singapore!

If you browse through ten books, written on Singapore’s history and how the nation transformed into the expat friendly, economically booming Disneyland it is today, nine will tell you the story through pink-foggy glasses, one will talk about the reality.

Before you come to Singapore you get the chance to actually read these books, and get information from a second point of view, since most of them are banned in Singapore.

As fantastic as the story goes (I also included Singapore’s “Founder” Biography in the list below) you will see how helpful it really is to understand and acknowledge many local problems if you know about their origins.

Continue reading for a list of books that i consider crucial in reading to learn about Singapore.

Singapore booksPhoto by FidoFido

1. The Singapore Dilemma – Lily Zubaidah Rahim

  • If you want to learn about racism in Singapore, and you have intended to do so by reading this book, you must read it before coming to Singapore since it was banned from its bookstore and even university shelves.

    The book is discussing the general racism problems towards the Malay community, occurring in Singapore and tries to identify the sources for the problems.

    A good review of the book can be found here.

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2. Human Rights Quarterly Vol. 18 – James Gomez

  • Read about Political depression and a personal account of the circumstances that led to the arrest, mistreatment, and detention of a member of Singapore’s elite class, Francis T. Seow, under the Internal Security Act (ISA) of Singapore.

    Through this narrative, Seow comments on executive interference in the Singapore judiciary, outlines the operations and philosophy of the Internal Security Department (ISD) and its officers, provides personal testimony on the political style of Lee Kuan Yew. A very political book on Singapore’s problems.

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3. The Singapore Grip – J.G. Farrell

  • The only real fictional novel in my list is an awarded saga about the history of Singapore.

    “No writer has swallowed all of Singapore, from its stately colonial bungalows to its once opium-infested slums, with the verve and wit of the late J.G. Farrell, whose 1978 saga The Singapore Grip remains the great Singapore novel…Farrell’s pungent aroma still fleetingly hovers over today’s city…With his gentle wit Farrell captures the soul of Singapore: a polyglot Asian port, still partly under the sleepy sway of its British colonial past, and still lurching toward an uncertain future with a furious, irresistible energy.” –Time Magazine

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4. From Third World to First : The Singapore Story

  • Most differing from its perspective on Singapore is this book, written by the “founder and father” of Singapore, its Prime Minister from the 50s to 1991 Lee, himself.

    In his personal biography he writes about how after expulsion from Malaysia in 1965, the new Singapore government took the island nation from the Third World to its current First World status.

    Read this book to keep the balance between “pro” and “contra” books on Singapore’s story.

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5. Fistful Of Colours – Christine Lim Suchen

  • This novel, which won the prestigious Singapore Literature Prize award, is an elegant, multi-layered reflection of what it means to be Singaporean.

    Through a single day in the life of a young teacher struggling to define herself as a person and an artist, Lim manages to weave the past and present into a compelling story.

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Which Books Do You Recommend?

From the above list of books which I personally read, I would like to ask you which books you consider important and interesting to read about Singapore, its history, political system, racial differences or just in general to learn more about Singapore.

Please let everyone know in the comments below!

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