In their debut nonfiction title, the authors explore Singapore’s global economic rise in the context of world history, politics and culture.
Singapore’s economic ascent parallels that of other Asian countries, a phenomenon, the authors assert, due to both broad Asian characteristics and Singapore’s unique history, geography and culture. The title’s emphasis on globalization and post-modernization succinctly highlights the reasons for this city-state’s success, but the reasons, of course, are much more detailed. The beginning of the book presents an overview of the current global economy, and moves toward presenting a detailed case study of Singapore within that economy. There is, however, more to achievement than singular financial considerations: The last two parts, “Building Human and Social Capital” and “Enhancing Liveability,” illustrate the importance of not only education, health and dwellings but cultural activities such as arts, sports and nightlife. They posit that the tiny country’s standing has been engineered on the pragmatic fusion of pre-modern Asian value—work ethics, thrift, and acceptance of benign authority—with western science and technology. The authors maintain that the views expressed in the book are the perspectives of two apolitical citizens in Singapore, views which are entirely personal. They might not be political in the strictest sense of government participation or activism, but their observations are certainly political, if not passionate. Singapore’s economic triumphs are surely supported by sound references, but some of the writing’s excessive value statements almost make the book seem more like a marketing piece for tourism or commerce. However, the quality of the majority of the source material is offset by an overreliance on a single source; The Straits Times news source represents one third of the footnotes. Often, facts are presented without citation. East Asians might indeed work harder than others, but documented quantification would likely ease readers’ minds about the veracity of that proclamation. Likewise, wind power might cost double that of coal, but that number should be substantiated. The outcome of the book, therefore, is a somewhat awkward mix of validated economic statements, personal observations and strong political views.
Will provoke animated conversation among global news enthusiasts.