Singapore Chronicles: The Next 15 Titles

By Fern Yu

The intellectual commemoration of Singapore’s Golden Jubilee continues at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS). It has been a year since IPS launched the first 10 titles of the 50-volume Singapore Chronicles series, which records, explains and offers insights into what makes Singapore, Singapore.

Each volume acts as a short primer on the subject matter, penned and peer-reviewed by domain experts. In a Sunday Times feature published in 2015, the series was described as “a wide ranging series of factual, pithy and carefully balanced accounts of Singapore’s history from its days as an almost deserted staging post for traders to the global city it is today.”

Over 7,000 copies of the first 10 titles have been sold thus far and they have all had a second print run. In December 2016, IPS is releasing 15 more volumes, bringing the series to its midway point. The remaining 25 books will be released over the course of 2017.

The next 15 titles


Central Provident Fund

By Dr Chia Ngee Choon, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, National University of Singapore (NUS)

The Central Provident Fund (CPF), Singapore’s mandatory savings scheme, has evolved since its inception in 1953 to meet Singaporeans’ housing, investment and retirement aspirations. The CPF’s trajectory reflects Singapore’s economic and social development. Its intricate connection with housing financing has made the CPF a unique social innovation in the world.




Civil Society

By Dr Gillian Koh, Deputy Director (Research) and Head of Politics and Governance Cluster, IPS; Debbie Soon, Research Associate, IPS

Singapore’s political system is often characterised as an activist state dominated by one political party, the People’s Action Party. This book adds nuances to that picture by tracing the history of civil society in Singapore; the interaction and contestation between ground-up political and social movements on the one hand, with the state and government on the other. It discusses the legal and working principles that shape how civil society operates today after 50 years of Independence, and its interaction with the state.




By Dr Yap Mui Teng, Principal Research Fellow, IPS; Christopher Gee, Senior Research Fellow, IPS

Singapore’s population is a veritable mix of nationalities, ethnic groups, languages and religious affiliations. This book traces trends and developments in Singapore’s population from the pre-Independence period, when there was relatively little control over migration and fertility; through the period of population control from Independence to the 1980s; to the more expansionary years from the mid-1980s until recently.




By Dr Kumar Ramakrishna, Head of Policy Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies

This book examines the origins of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) in the inter-war years and its subsequent development against the wider backdrop of the Cold War. The CPM, in its quest to set up a Communist Republic of Malaya and Singapore, mounted a violent rural insurgency in Malaya and later shifted to urban subversion of the bourgeoning anti-colonial left-wing movement in Singapore. Contemporary Singapore’s emphasis on law and order cannot be understood without reference to its long twilight struggle with the CPM, a conflict that ended only in 1989.




By Dr Tilak K Doshi, former Chief Economist, Energy Studies Institute (ESI), NUS; Lin Fangjun, former analyst, ESI, NUS

How did Singapore emerge as the “East of Suez” hub for oil refining, petrochemicals manufacturing and trading in the early 1980s? This book examines the development of Singapore’s oil industry since 1870. Critical policy issues facing government planners in energy security, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability are also discussed to inform the reader of the key issues related to the story of oil in Singapore.




By Kenneth Er, Chief Executive Officer, National Parks Board (NParks); Dr Leong Chee Chiew, Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Professional Development and Services Cluster), NParks; Khoo Teng Chye, Executive Director, Centre for Liveable Cities; Joseph Hui, principal consultant, National Environment Agency

Within a few decades, Singapore has been transformed from a Third World city of congested and dirty environs to a First World metropolis of pervasive greenery and cleanliness. This book draws on the experiences and expertise of two government institutions — the National Parks Board and the National Environment Agency — and their predecessor organisations in examining the past, present and future of environment policies in Singapore.




By Sylvia Tan, food author

Singapore’s reputation as a food paradise reflects its position at the intersection of four culinary cultures:  Chinese, Malay, Indian and European. This book discusses these influences and traces changes in cooking practices and eating habits that have produced a sophisticated and cosmopolitan city known for the variety of dining experiences it offers.




By Dr David Ho Kim Hin, Associate Professor, NUS; Dr Ho Mun Wai, Fellow, Singapore Institute of Arbitrators

Singapore has leveraged on its strategic location and open economy to become a global maritime, aviation and logistics hub. However, intense challenges lie ahead. This book examines how Singapore needs to raise the bar to remain a strategic gateway to the region and the rest of the world.




By Peter Ho, Senior Fellow, Civil Service College Singapore (CSC); Anuradha Shroff, Lead Researcher, Institute of Public Sector Leadership, CSC; Codey Tan, Assistant Manager, Institute of Public Sector Leadership, CSC; Hazel See, Senior Manager, Strategic Planning and Development unit, CSC; Lena Leong, Deputy Director and Principal Learning and Development Specialist, CSC

Good governance is at the heart of Singapore’s development, forged by the early challenges that Singapore faced after Independence and shaped by its leaders to reflect their long-term vision. This book chronicles key principles of Singapore’s governance and demonstrates how institutions, policies and strategies combined to play a critical role in Singapore’s transformation from a Third to First World nation.




By Professor Eddie C Y Kuo, Director, UniSIM Centre for Chinese Studies, SIM University; Dr Brenda Chan, independent scholar and adjunct faculty, Singapore Management University

Understanding language use is particularly challenging in a cosmopolitan city-state such as Singapore, with its multi-ethnic society that recognises four official languages — English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. This book reviews and discusses the changing patterns of language use within Singapore society from Independence till today, particularly how they have been influenced by and, in turn, shape the state’s language policies.




By Zuraidah Ibrahim, Chief News Editor, South China Morning Post; Andrea Ong, graduate law student and former political correspondent, The Straits Times

This book traces the history of Singapore’s opposition parties from post-World War II days to the present. It tells the story of these parties, which is one filled with personalities, setbacks and ideals. It also examines the opposition movement’s challenges and prospects — in particular, its potential growth trajectories and the shape of Singapore’s political system in the future.



Social Services

By Ho Chi Tim, Lecturer, NUS Department of History; Professor Ann Wee, Associate Professorial Fellow, NUS Department of Social Work

The well-being of Singapore as a nation is usually understood and presented in broad imperatives, such as defence and the economy. This book presents a historical overview of another indicator of national well-being: personal social services. In colonial times, relatively less attention was paid to the significant everyday needs of the people in Singapore at various stages of their lives, anticipated or otherwise. The post-colonial Government had taken these matters seriously and over time addressed many issues of social welfare in a systematic and sustainable fashion.




By Dr Robin Loon, Senior Lecturer, NUS Department of Theatre Studies; Kok Heng Leun, Artistic Director, Drama Box; Zizi Azah Binte Abdul Majid, playwright and theatre director; Vadivalagan Shanamuga, playwright and director

This book surveys the beginnings, evolution and current state of theatre in English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil against the backdrop of Singapore’s rise as a nation and as a cultural polity. The issues of regulation, cultural-linguistic imperatives, and the use of theatre as a mirror to Singapore, are examined.




By A P Gopinath Menon, transport engineering consultant and Senior Research Fellow, Nanyang Technological University

This book traces the development of Singapore’s land transport system since its modern founding in 1819. Until Independence in 1965, the provision of roads, traffic devices, and private, public and non-motorised transport was permitted to develop without any master-planning. It was not until a sound transport strategy was formulated and implemented in the early 1970s that there was a marked improvement in the provision of transport services.




By Tan Gee Paw, Chairman, PUB

Water is more than a basic human necessity in Singapore. Its supply was a strategic collaboration between two British colonies and, later, the core of a strategic relationship between two independent nations. This book traces the story of how Singapore was almost totally dependent on the Malay peninsula to quench its daily thirst and how it has now become almost self-sufficient.




Fern Yu is a Research Assistant (Special Projects) at IPS.