NUS Press in the News

Media highlights of our books and authors 

Portrait of the artist as a young man (The Business Times, April 24, 2015) 
Tall Tales and Misadventures of a Young Westernized Oriental Gentleman is a collection of stories about [Goh's] student days in 1950s Ireland where he had been sent at the age of 16 by his Malaysian family to study towards becoming a doctor.

How Singapore's port helped change the country's economy (Channel NewsAsia, April 21, 2015)  
Mention of Peter Borschberg, author of The Memoirs and Memorials of Jacques de Coutre: Security, Trade and Society in 16th- and 17th-century Southeast Asia  
Associate Professor Peter Borschberg, who is with the Department of History at the National University of Singapore, explained the significance of Singapore's ports: "Singapore was always conceived and designed as a free port, and it remained so through the 19th and much of the 20th centuries as well."

Make a date with dinos (The Sunday Times, April 12, 2015)

The creatures are waiting. Over 2,000 specimens to be exact, ranging from majestic dinosaur fossils to a bird in the collection of famed British naturalist Alfred Wallace, will be shown to the public on April 28 at the new Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum. Chang Ai-Lien takes a look inside, and checks out the book which tells its story.

Celebrating Singapore's long maritime heritage (Singapore Solutions, April 2, 2015) 
Mention of John Miksic, author of Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300-1800 
John Miksic at the National University of Singapore pointed out in his book Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea (1300–1800) that, contrary to common belief, the history of Singapore as an important city and an international port trading hub did not start with the arrival of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles in 1819.

Poem of HDB life by Arthur Yap inspires tele movie (The Straits Times, March 20, 2015)

The late Arthur Yap's well-known one-page poem, 2 Mothers In A HDB Playground, has been adapted into a 65-minute telemovie screening today on Channel 5. The film, titled The Playground: Gone Kimmy Gone, appears to be the first long-form screen adaptation of Yap's verses about two parents comparing notes on their children in Singlish.
Two years ago, film-maker Royston Tan turned the poem, first published in 1980, into a 10-minute movie, 2Mothers, for the Singapore Writers Festival.

History and the Curious Case of Batu Sarwar (BFM 89.9, March 18, 2015)


Join hosts Ahmad Fuad Rahmat, Sharaad Kuttan and NUS Press author Peter Borschberg as they journey from north to south and back again, discussing the interweaving of narratives here and Europe. Batu Sarwar was the former capital of Johor and it makes a curious appearance in this discussion. History is tenuous and that makes it all the more fascinating.

Digging Up Singapore's History (The Strait Times, February 21, 2015)

...Both archaeological data and textual records have now enabled the National Museum to frame Singapore's history as a nation-state as one epoch of a much longer experience as a settlement, port-city and state that has lasted for much of the last millennium...

Singapore as a garden, not a forest (The Jakarta Post, February 2, 2015)

A new book from NUS Press offers a compelling — and entertaining — view of Singapore’s environment, offering stories of tiger attacks and trade wars — as well the botany and ecology a reader needs to understand more than 200 years of continual, and sometimes disastrous, change on the island.
Today, Singapore is called the "Garden City", and about 56 percent of the city-state is covered in greenery, according to Timothy F. Barnard, the National University of Singapore historian who edited the book, titled Nature Contained: Environmental Histories of Singapore.

A new generation rewrites history, doubts Singapore's vulnerability (The Straits Times, January 30, 2015)

Another cycle of rewriting Singapore's history may be in the offing. It appears to be a rewriting that emphasises the local and social dimension of our past over the national and its global links.
To be sure, attempts to bring the social aspects of Singapore's history to the fore are not entirely new. In 1923, Song Ong Siang published One Hundred Years' History Of The Chinese In Singapore. More recently, there was in 1986 James Francis Warren's Rickshaw Coolie: A People's History Of Singapore 1880-1940.

Focus on welfare, not wages, of foreign workers (The Straits Times, January 23, 2015)
By Donald Low, co-author of  Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus
Specifically, the Government should do more to ensure better housing conditions, provide adequate health protection, protect their rights to safe and fair working conditions, and promote more leisure options for them. Since these benefits cannot be easily monetised, it is unlikely that they would result in higher fees paid to middlemen or agents or lower wages by employers. 
Just as importantly, the costs of providing these should be borne by taxpayers, rather than by employers. Since it is society at large that benefits from the low-wage work that the foreign workers perform, it is only fair and efficient for society to pay these costs.

75 Notable Translations of 2014 (World Literature Today, December 23, 2014)

In our third annual list of "75 Notable Translations," we again offer an admittedly incomplete collection of the year’s English translations. We hope you’ll both find some new to-reads and comment on those we’ve missed.

The best Singapore books of 2014 (The Business Times, December 19, 2014)


"Few non-fiction publications have attracted as much discussion this year as this collection of political essays. It questions many long-held beliefs and assumptions in Singapore's policy-making and boldly calls for reforms to address a new polity. You may not agree with everything that the authors argue for, but the book gets you thinking for weeks."


More than 130 years ago on Krakatau, an island 800km from Singapore, a massive volcano explosion and tsunami took hundreds of thousands of lives. Though still talked about as one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history, the only surviving eye-witness account was written in Malay verse by Muhammad Salleh. Now beautifully translated into English by John H. McGlynn, Krakatau is a real page-turner."

"What did Singapore and its neighbouring countries look like 150 years ago? This re-published account of the fieldwork carried out by naturalist Alfred Wallace in the 19th century is a must-have for anyone curious about life before modernity. It includes more than 800 footnotes and some gorgeous illustrations of the flora, fauna and people."

Riz Sunawan interviews John H. McGlynn, translator of Krakatau: The Tale of Lampung Submerged   (Berita MediaCorp November 2, 2014)
Since the incidence of severe eruption of the volcano Krakatau in the Sunda Straits in 1883, over 1,000 reports and publishing about it has been generated. But only now, after 130 years, the writings about the disaster by a native witness is translated into English.

Between the lines: Of Singlish and Singapore Football (The Straits Times, November 2, 2014)
Mention of Donald Low, co-author of Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus
The associate dean at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, who recently co-authored Hard Choices: Challenging The Singapore Consensus, squared off with geopolitical strategist and writer Parag Khanna, who relocated from the United States to Singapore two years ago. Low felt that the things that had made Singapore successful were "not relevant to 'real countries'", of which he felt Singapore was not. Citing a recent trip to Kazakhstan where he spoke to Kazakh students, he found himself at a loss to provide them with a "Singapore recipe", adding that "What made us succeed in the past is less relevant now".

Singapore Shelf by arts correspondent Akshita Nanda (The Straits Times, October 19, 2014)
Kenneison, a born-and-bred Briton, learnt only after her father's death that he was a Eurasian from Singapore, but had kept his secret all her life because he did not want to face discrimination.
A fascinating portrayal of a family sundered during World War II and reunited in the Noughties.

In new textbook, the story of Singapore begins 500 years earlier (The New York Times, May 11, 2014)
Professor Miksic says the controversy over Bukit Brown proved that tangible heritage is important. “People want more than prosperity,” he said. “Once you have enough to live on, you want something to live for: identity, a desire to know your ancestors. It’s an innate part of what it means to be human.”

New book on gay movement launched in Singapore (Malay Mail Online, May 15, 2014)
What are the legal restrictions and political norms that affect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community? How did they organise themselves and engage the state, eventually organising the first public gay rally, Pink Dot, in 2009?
These are the themes examined in a new book by law professor Lynette Chua from the National University of Singapore (NUS) on the LGBT movement. Launched yesterday, the 168-page volume was based on in-depth interviews with gay activists here and government statements and media reports on the issue. Called Mobilizing Gay Singapore, it looks at the LGBT movement’s emergence, development and strategies, and how the roles of law and rights play out in the process.

Jokowi: Rise of a polite populist (Inside Indonesia 116: Apr-Jun 2014)
By Marcus Mietzner, author of
Money, Power and Ideology: Political Parties in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia
Indeed, it has been a remarkable journey for Jokowi, transforming him from a small-town furniture entrepreneur to Indonesia’s presidential frontrunner and pop culture phenomenon. This article briefly documents his spectacular rise, but also demonstrates how complacency, strategic mistakes and infighting in PDIP and Jokowi’s circle have undermined his performance in the April elections and eroded his previously unassailable lead in the polls.

From Hard Truths to Hard Choices – Singapore thinkers take on PAP’s entrenched governance mindset in new book (The Online Citizen, April 23, 2014) 
"It is extremely tempting for the human mind to respond to uncertainty and complexity with a greater desire for control, harmony, and stability," they wrote in their book. "But the reality is that the complete avoidance of shocks and failures is a utopian dream. More problematically, insulation from competition and shocks weakens the signals for the system to adapt, and breeds strategic brittleness and fragility. In the long run, such insulation leads to instability and the system’s eventual collapse."
It would appear that it is not disruptive democracy, but the lack of it that will destroy Singapore.

New book questions policy 'hard truths' (The Straits Times, April 23, 2014)
"We think that policy-makers, and Singaporeans in general, should be less guided by hard truths, the ideologies, policies and practices that have served us well in the past 30 to 40 years, and be more guided by this idea that perhaps there are few hard truths, there are very few eternal truths. The far more meaningful debate we should be having is what are the choices we realistically have."

Rare look into S-E Asia from 400 years ago (The Straits Times, January 18, 2014)
"Two major powers jostle for political and economic leverage in the Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea, with the occasional armed skirmish in these waters. They find allies in the region, and try to set up bases to entrench their presence, angering a good number of locals in the process. If this sounds like today's news, it was also true four centuries ago, as laid out in a young Flemish trader's gripping rendition."

Historian shares more than just personal stories in new book (The Star Online, December 8, 2013)
Tun Jugah Foundation chairman Tan Sri Leonard Linggi said the book’s launch was timely in view of Sarawak’s 50th anniversary celebration of independence this year.
"The Limbang Rebellion is a significant part of our history. When the Cobbold Commission came to assess the opinion of the people of Sarawak on the Malaysia plan, the response was initially lukewarm.
"According to many, the rebellion helped to swing opinion towards Malaysia rather than face the threats from the immediate neighbours," he said.

Decoding a half-century of writing from the Northeast (The Bangkok Post, December 2, 2013)
"Platt teaches at the University of Copenhagen. His book is, I think, is the first attempt to review a regional contribution to modern Thai literature. He covers a lot of writers, providing capsule biographies, lists of publications and details on their life and work from personal interviews. He sets their work into its political and social context very deftly."

Continuity and change: Myanmar’s foreign policy (Myanmar Times, September 15, 2013)
By Renaud Egreteau, co-author of Soldiers and Diplomacy in Burma: Understanding the Foreign Relations of the Burmese Praetorian State
"Carefully non-aligned, equidistant and probably reactive diplomacy might suit the country best in these times of transition. Myanmar will certainly take great care not to become overly close to one powerful state alone, whether it is a regional one, such as China, or one coming from beyond the Pacific Ocean. But it will not revert to the proactive diplomacy of seduction and vibrant engagement that was observed during the Asian Solidarity moment in the 1950s. The country today simply does not have the capacity to emulate the buoyant foreign policies that U Nu and former deputy prime minister U Kyaw Nyein once vocally promoted. As Myanmar chooses the pace and path of its own political transition, it will also choose the way it wants to rejoin the international community."