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For most of us, work is a basic daily fact of life. But that simple fact encompasses an incredibly wide range of experiences. Hard at Work takes readers into the day-to-day work experiences of more than fifty working people in Singapore who hold jobs that run from the ordinary to the unusual: from ice cream vendors, baristas, police officers and funeral directors to academic ghostwriters, temple flower sellers, and Thai disco girl agents. Through first-person narratives based on detailed interviews, vividly augmented with color photographs, Hard at Work reminds us of the everyday labor that continually goes on around us, and that every job can reveal something interesting if we just look closely enough. It shows us too the ways inequalities of status and income are felt and internalized in this highly globalized society.
Published in 1972 and widely regarded as the first Singapore novel, If We Dream Too Long explores the dilemmas and challenges faced by its hero, Kwang Meng, as he navigates the difficult transitional period between youthful aspirations and the external demands of society and family. Shy and sensitive, he feels detached from mainstream life and is unable to identify with the values that animate his friends. Kwang Meng takes refuge in dreams of exotic faraway places, and imagines merging himself with the sea, which he loves. Yet amid this uncertainty, the reader feels that all is not lost, that the young dreamer will eventually find his way. Kwang Meng’s experiences reflect Goh Poh Seng’s fascination with the question of self amid the dreariness and aimlessness of an increasingly urbanized and materialistic Asian society. The book also provides a fascinating portrait of Singapore as it was in the 1960s, a landscape and society that have since undergone many changes but remain faintly visible in modern Singapore. This new edition restores the author’s original typographic design and has an updated introduction by Koh Tai Ann.
Las Vegas is famous for its glitter and greed, but it rarely gets the recognition it deserves for another specialty: inventing a globalized corporate model of institutional control. For decades, the gambling mecca has perfected the concept of the casino-hotel, which has been exported to countries around the world, including Singapore with the opening of the Marina Bay Sands. When this luxury resort opened in 2010, it was the convergence of two cities’ very different histories of gambling. Las Vegas in Singapore looks at moments in Singapore’s and Las Vegas’ pasts when the moral and legal status of gambling changed significantly, and examines how modern states and corporations capitalized on it. The book begins in colonial Singapore in the 1880s, when British administrators revised the law in response to the political threat posed by Chinese-run gambling syndicates. It then looks at the 1960s when the newly independent city-state created a national lottery while at the same time criminalizing both organized and petty gambling. From there the focus moves to corporate Las Vegas in the 1950s. The book reveals how the Las Vegas model of casino development evolved into a highly rationalized template designed to maximize profits. It all comes together when the Vegas model is architecturally re-fashioned into Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands. Ultimately, Lee Kah-Wee argues that the historical project of the control of vice is also about the control of space and capital. The result is an uneven landscape where the legal and moral status of gambling is contingent on where it is located. As the current wave of casino expansion spreads across Asia, he warns that these developments should not be seen as liberalization but instead as a monopolization by modern states and corporations.
What is the modern in Southeast Asia’s architecture and how do we approach its study critically? This pathbreaking multidisciplinary volume is the first critical survey of Southeast Asia’s modern architecture. It looks at the challenges of studying this complex history through the conceptual frameworks of translation, epistemology, and power. Challenging Eurocentric ideas and architectural nomenclature, the authors examine the development of modern architecture in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, with a focus on selective translation and strategic appropriation of imported ideas and practices by local architects and builders. The book transforms our understandings of the region’s modern architecture by moving beyond a consideration of architecture as an aesthetic artifact and instead examining its entanglement with different dynamics of power.
For forty-four months during World War II, the Japanese occupied Singapore, renaming it Syonan and setting out to drastically change life on the island. As part of the occupation, the Japanese created a research bureau, the Chosabu, to study occupied Singapore. The bureau’s detailed reports on the economy covered prices, wages, currency, rationing, living standards, food production, and industrialization. Syonan’s military and civilian administrators drew on them when formulating social and economic policies. The reports were notoriously difficult to read, and so this exceptional translation by Gregg Huff and Shinobu Majima is a true linguistic accomplishment. These records are an invaluable record of life during this tumultuous period and are especially important as the Japanese destroyed most records of their wartime administration, leaving the Chosabu reports as one of the few first-hand sources to have survived. Introductory chapters by the editors position the reports against wartime events in Singapore and examine the careers of the Chosabu authors and the places they occupy in the history of Japanese economic thought.