The monthly socialservice.sg book club focuses on books (available digitally through NLB’s OverDrive or Libby) / open-access journal articles / curated collections of commentaries related to socio-economic issues related to Singapore.

Sessions are held on the last Thursday of each month, from 8.30 to 9.45pm.

Here on this page, you can find out more about the upcoming session and read the discussion prompts and notes from past sessions. Contact us if you’re interested to be on the mailing list! You’ll receive an email reminder with the prompts a week before each session.

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Upcoming session (May 27, 8.30 to 9.45pm)

Date: May 27, 2021 (Thursday)
Time: 8.30 to 9.45pm
Book: Liyana Dhamirah’s “Homeless: The Untold Story of a Mother’s Struggle in Crazy Rich Singapore” (https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/5256637).
RSVP: Contact us if you’re not already on the mailing list

Discussion prompts:

  1. Putting your knowledge of current affairs and social policies aside, what was your first feeling or emotion after reading the book? And which of her specific experience(s) stood out to you?
  2. Her family’s living arrangement on a beach in Sembawang was the focus, but even before that stint housing security was not a feature in her life (for instance, her mother renting a house in Johor Bahru). What are the benefits to housing security and stability?
  3. Since the book’s publication, Singapore’s first homeless street count estimated 921 to 1,050 street homeless people in the country. A subsequent count is now in progress. What more should be done?
  4. There are intersections between housing insecurity and other forms of insecurities: (a) Labour and income; (b) children with disabilities (e.g. Aunty Zainab’s daughter); (c) physical health and psychological well-being; and (d) parenting and caregiving. How do they compound in low-income households? What other forms of insecurity do they experience?
  5. Singapore’s “Many Helping Hands” approach to social welfare is centred on individuals, their families (both nuclear and extended, as well as family-like friends), and the community. Based on the book and your other observations, what may be the limits to the approach?
  6. Referring in particular to the interaction with the MSF social worker Mr Tan, or your knowledge of how aid and assistance are delivered, what is your evaluation and for what policy and social changes should we advocate? And how do we go about doing so?

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Past book club sessions

January | Michael J. Sandel’s “The Tyranny of Merit” (Read the discussion prompts and notes)
February | Gerard Sasges and Ng Shi Wen’s “Hard at Work: Life in Singapore” (Read the discussion prompts and notes)
March | David Graeber’s “Bullshit Jobs: A Theory” (Read the discussion prompts and notes)
April | Matthew Schneider-Mayerson and Michele Chong’s “Eating Chilli Crab in the Anthropocene: Environmental Perspectives on Life in Singapore” (Read the discussion prompts and notes)
May | Liyana Dhamirah’s “Homeless: The Untold Story of a Mother’s Struggle in Crazy Rich Singapore