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Book Review

Sensing Singapore: Reflections In A Time Of Change

by Nur Ardillah

Sense Singapore SM

Title: Sensing Singapore: Reflections In A Time Of Change
Author: Devadas Krishnadas
Publisher: Ethos Books
Price: $25.00 (w/o GST)
Available at Ethos Books.

Singapore has transformed from a bustling seaport to a fast-paced and vibrant city despite being a young and small nation – a nigh impossible feat without good governance. This book tackles both the present and future issues in Singapore while recognising the efforts of the pioneers who have built what Singapore is today.

Author Devadas Krishnadas compiled the past commentaries and public speeches he made from his observations, thought-processes and writings between August 2012 and September 2013. Most notably, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law, Mr K Shanmugam, has written the foreword and the opposition party member Ms Nicole Seah, has contributed the note.

Devadas has segmented his book into nine different sections so that readers can easily jump to what they are most interested in. A wide range of topics are discussed, from complex, long-term issues like population to one of the recent initiatives the government has come up with, Our Singapore Conversation.

As the points delivered are sharp and concise, it is hard to believe that Sensing Singapore is Devadas’ first book. While he did not take any particular side and presented his opinions objectively, the book uses a persuasive writing style at times, with a lot of emphasis on calling Singaporeans to play a collective role. Besides addressing the rising concerns faced by Singaporeans and the challenges the government has in today’s world, the book provides numerous solutions. For example, he provided insights to Our Singapore Conversation by discussing its effectiveness and explaining how he thinks it could be improved.

Not only does Sensing Singapore discuss from an economic perspective, but it also highlights social issues in Singapore that others tend to overlook. An instance brought up is about elderly people living alone. His experiences working in various government sectors like the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) and Ministry of Finance (MOF) have indeed helped in the crafting of his opinions, as he is well aware of the situation on the ground.

However, what is lacking in this book is the focus on youths who would form the future working population. Also, in an era where people put up fiery posts online to stir hate, the book could include how youths can be more politically conscious.

Would we see more active citizenry in local politics in the years to come? Would there be more public intellectuals like Devadas who would step up to give constructive feedback and propose feasible ideas to the government? These are the points of consideration for you to ponder about as you pick up this easy-to-read book. With this, gone are the lengthy, jargon-filled explanations on policies.

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