These are the discussion prompts and notes from the July 2021 book club, when we discussed Cherian George’s “Air-Conditioned Nation Revisited: Essays on Singapore Politics”.
Final-year PhD candidate in the University of British Columbia’s Department of History Edgar Liao studies the history of youth in Singapore. His work is informed both by his archival work and his previous experience as a volunteer and youth leader in the youth work scene in the country. After helping us understand the theoretical (Foucauldian) concepts he employs, Edgar explains how Singapore’s youth policies as well as patterns of inclusion and exclusion inform the history of the present. He describes a dualistic discourse: Of the Singapore state empowering youths with resources for development, while scrutinising and policing their activity and activism at the same time.
Today, we are joined by professors Cherian George and Donald Low, to talk about their bestselling book, “PAP v PAP: The Party’s struggle to adapt to a changing Singapore” (purchase the book via Epigram bookstore or the audiobook via Storytel). We discussed the balance between elite governance and democratic deliberation, the phenomena of elite reproduction and overproduction, and how the book can be a starting point for political and policy conversations in Singapore.
Today, we are joined by journalist-turned-political commentator and professor Bertha Henson, to talk about her new book, “GE2020: Fair or Foul?” (purchase the book via Epigram Bookstore). We will first discuss her case for the People’s Action Party (PAP) to level the electoral playing field and to increase the nine-day campaign period. She then evaluates the PAP backbenchers and the 4G leadership.
This roundup summarises the most important news stories around the world in the last two weeks (October 16 to 31, 2020).