Is enough ever enough?: a discussion this Saturday on consumerism in Singapore

i shop therefore i am

How materialistic and obsessed with status competition are we Singaporeans?

Some days I think overconsumption and conspicuous consumption are things of the past, others I feel we have just moved on from the material to the experiential, from leather bags to F&B/skiing holidays (no judgment…probably guilty of all of the above.)

Not to mention the increasing projection of status competition onto children. BYOM–Bring your own maid–one of the best terms I’ve heard recently re: kids’ party instructions.

I don’t think there are ever going to be any definitive answers to any of this, consumerism is so ingrained in the Singaporean psyche, yet is also constantly evolving with migration, technology and other trends.

Nevertheless, always good to engage in the occasional banter, so I’m looking forward to this talk at 3pm this Saturday at FOST Gallery, Gillman Barracks, alongside Chua Beng Huat, a sociologist and author of “Life is not complete without shopping”, and Li Lin Wee, director of “Gone Shopping”.

Do join us to talk shop.

“This talk is free but seating is limited. Please email talks@fostgallery.com to reserve a seat. Unoccupied reserved seats will be released 5 minutes before the talk begins.”

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Official invite details on Facebook and below: Continue reading

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Second book launch: Hard Choices

Hard Choices Front_Ver 2

Dear friends, I just wanted to share some thoughts from my second book launch this past Tuesday. If you want to find out more about the book’s content and cover, please see my earlier post here.

I really enjoyed the launch. As in, it was genuinely fun. Lots of banter up on stage between Donald Low, my co-author, David Skilling, the moderator, and myself before the event. Engaging conversation and audience questions throughout on a range of important and sometimes emotive subjects, from Goh Keng Swee’s doubts in 1972 about Singapore’s emerging economic model to the recent uproar over the mooted Philippines Independence Day Celebration in Singapore this June.

If you are keen to see what you missed, here is a 22min video of the session.

Continue reading

Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus

Hard Choices Front_Ver 2

Dear friends, I am very happy to announce the release of my new book, Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus, co-authored with Donald Low, with contributions by Linda Lim and PJ Thum, and published by NUS Press.

Do you recognise the image on the cover? Scroll to the bottom of this post to find out more about it.

Availability in Singapore

Donald and I will be taking part in a discussion at NUS, moderated by David Skilling of the Landfall Strategy Group. Bookhaven will be selling copies there at S$20 per book (usual price S$24).

Date: April 22nd 2014
Time: 6:00pm to 7:30pm
Venue: Bookhaven, NUS U-Town. 2 College Avenue West, Singapore, Singapore 138607 (see here)

Registration is free, but necessary as space is limited. Click here to do so.

For those who cannot make it on April 22nd but still want a personalised copy autographed by the two of us—at the launch price—please order through me directly by April 22nd morning, for collection at NUS Press.

To order, send an email with your details, including autograph instructions (if any), to sudhir@post.harvard.edu. The S$20 is payable to NUS Press upon collection there (see here).

Otherwise, the book should be available in all good bookstores, including NUS Press itself, by end April.

Digital/Worldwide

Digital versions (Amazon, Apple, Kobo and B&N) will be ready by end April. We are still working out the Google Play delivery. Worldwide hard copies should also be available on Amazon by July 31st—although they are notorious for delays with hard copies.

Do check back here for updates; or click the “Follow” button at the bottom of this page to receive my blogposts automatically.

What is the book about?

The book is a collection of essays on Singapore, each dealing with a different policy or social dimension—including history, meritocracy, social security, housing and identity.

More important than the specific topics, perhaps, is the spirit of the book. Each essay challenges one or more assumptions of the Singapore consensus—from vulnerability to elite governance—and suggests policy alternatives, some fairly radical, to the limited and narrow options that are often presented in public discourse here.

Will greater welfare necessarily harm Singapore’s competitiveness? Does Singapore need high immigration in order to keep growing and raise living standards? Are ethnic classifications—Chinese, Malay, Indian, Others—and quotas in HDB estates necessary in order to maintain ethnic harmony?

A traditional Singapore establishment viewpoint would respond with a resounding YES to all of the above. In the book we skewer these and many other sacred cows. Continue reading

Book reading: 5pm, Oct 6th, Fost Gallery, Gillman Barracks

Dear friends, for those who missed the launch of my book, Floating on a Malayan Breeze, I would like to invite you to a book reading on Saturday, Oct 6th.

The venue is wonderful: Fost Gallery, in the revamped Gillman Barracks area, displays pieces from local artists–very “Malayan”.

Moreover, there will be fabulous free drinks!: Su Lynn, a mixologist from Big Easy Lifestyle, will be mixing up some cocktails and mocktails.

A Big Thank You to Fost Gallery for hosting and to Big Easy Lifestyle for providing the drinks. We’ll have some bites on hand too.

This one is much more casual lah, no guests of honour, no panellists, just me talking a bit and reading a couple of passages from the book. We will be selling copies of the book there.

So: Great art, free drinks and snacks, literature, and a chance to check out the refurbished Gillman Barracks. Do RSVP to Riya at orders.nuspress@nus.edu.sg, so we know how many to expect.

Please click on the flyer below for more information. And do tell your friends. See you then!