The Singapore Story (Abridged Edition)

lky_cvrTitle: The Singapore Story (Abridged Edition)
Author: Lee Kuan Yew
Publisher: Times Media Private Ltd (Times Publishing Group)
First Published: 2000
Price: below S$30
Available: All major bookstores
Reviewer: Jacinta Fernandez

Lee Kuan Yew is the architect of modern Singapore. He did his much awaited memoirs in the late 90s in two volumes. This book is the abridged version of the first volume which dealt with his boyhood in pre-World War II Singapore, his Japanese Occupation experience, his Cambridge University years when his political views took shape, and his work preparing for the launch of the People's Action Party that has since dominated the Singapore political landscape. These events are covered in the first seven chapters.

The subsequent chapters describe the political struggle to form the government, fights with the communists, becoming the government, and communal tension and strife stoked by political extremists when Singapore was part of the Malaysian Federation. The momentous events that led to the separation from Malaysia is covered in poignant detail in the last two chapters, up to independence on 9 August 1965.

Additionally, it contains two useful appendices that describe the main characters in the book and provides a chronology of the main events.

The book itself is fascinating reading, providing a wealth of information about Singapore in the 20th century. It's a powerful narrative of a historical perspective from one whose grit and determination inspired, welded and led a remarkable team of like-minded individuals like Goh Keng Swee, Rajaratnam, Eddie Barker and more, to set into place the foundations of modern Singapore.

At the very least, it is a darn good story of Singapore's yesteryears that will grip both parent and child alike. Other important reasons why it should interest especially Singaporeans are that (1) it offers a critical insight into the founding of a successful city state that currently punches above its weight in global affairs, and (2) it is by the acknowledged father of the modern Singaporean nation.

Assuming you are Singaporean, a possible occasion to read this highly readable book is to use evening reading time with your child. Maybe a chapter at a time, reading aloud, discussing and dwelling on certain issues and events or scenes described. In a way, this can be part of national education time with your child!