When Lee Kuan Yew struck a chill in expat hearts

Browsing through Elections in Singapore written by Pugalenthi Sr and published in 1996, I was struck by this passage, where he writes about the 1959 elections, which brought Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew to power:

He said the citizenship laws had deliberately been made very liberal to allow Commonwealth citizens to take up citizenship after a stay of only two years here. This was aimed at providing the large number of Britons here a say in local politics. But most of these Britons had no intention of making this their homeland and would "scoot off" as soon as things "got hot here".

The book does not give any references.

But Mr Lee and his People's Action Party in those days did strike a chill in the hearts of expatriates, according to the historian Constance Mary Turnbull. In A History of Modern Singapore (1819 – 2005), she describes the aftermath of the PAP victory in the 1959 elections, when PAP won 43 of the 51 seats (see the Elections Department page and Wikipedia: total voters 586,098, voter turnout 527,919 or  92.9%). Turnbull writes:

[Read more...]

First Booker for a Brit in five years?

A British writer is likely to win the Man Booker Prize for the first time in five years when the winner is announced tomorrow. Unless the South African born Nobel Prize winner JM Coetzee wins the Booker for the third time — and sets a new record in the Booker's 41-year history.

All the five other writers on this year's shortlist are from the British Isles.

That is highly unusual for the Booker.

The prize for the best in English fiction from the Commonwealth and Ireland has been won by a Briton only twice in the past 12 years. Alan Hollinghurst was the last British winner in 2004 for The Line Of Beauty. Ian McEwan was the previous British winner, for Amsterdam in 1998.

There have been more Indian than British winners in the past 12 years. Arundhati Roy won for The God Of Small Things in 1997, Kiran Desai for The Inheritance Of Loss in 2006 and Aravind Adiga for The White Tiger last year.

This video shows the shortlist being announced earlier this month. (Another video at the end of this post.)

Coetzee, the 2003 Nobel Prize winner, won the Booker for Life & Times of Michael K in 1983 and Disgrace in 1999 — and has been shortlisted this year for Summertime.

The English novelist AS Byatt is another past winner back in the fray. The 1990 winner for Possession is on the shortlist this year for The Children's Book.

But the punters' favourite is Hilary Mantel, author of the historical saga, Wolf Hall, set in the court of Henry VIII and centring on the character of Thomas Cromwell.

Here are the odds on the six shortlisted authors and their books cited by a betting website:

Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall – (2 – 1 Favourite)

Sarah Waters – The Little Stranger – (4 – 1)

JM Coetzee – Summertime – (6 – 1)

AS Byatt – The Children's Book – (10 – 1)

Simon Mawer – The Glass Room – (14 – 1)

Adam Foulds – The Quickening Maze – (16 – 1)

Other past Booker winners include Anne Enright (The Gathering, 2007), John Banville (The Sea, 2005), DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, 2003), Yann Martel (Life Of Pi, 2002), Peter Carey (True History Of The Kelly Gang, 2001) and Margaret Atwood (The Blind Assassin, 2000).

[Read more...]