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Showing posts from August, 2018

This Is What Inequality Looks Like

This collection of closely-linked essays by sociologist Teo You Yen challenges the reader to look closely at the portrait of poverty and inequality in Singapore. It is not a pretty sight, the precarious existence of many Singaporeans living in the richest country in Asia. How did we get here? The book has many answers, big and small, the most important of which is that poverty is not an exception to the much-touted system, but is, rather, the result of the structures, policies, and procedures pursued by government and people to increase wealth. Poverty is the result of inequality. Teo describes with sympathetic insight and keen detail the lives of Singaporeans living in poverty. She is an excellent writer whose expositions are lucid and descriptions vivid. Significantly, she locates herself in her study, as a means of contrasting her better position (university professor, married with children) with that of the disadvantaged. What would hammer home her argument is a companion volume d…

Eulogy for my father Robert Koh Dut Say (1937 - 2018)

On behalf of my dad, mom, and sister, I want to thank you for coming out tonight. And thank you for sharing your memories of my dad. They help to give a fuller picture of the man.

I will always remember my father as a man of great patience. When I was in Radin Mas Primary School, he waited for me outside the school gates for my pianica class to finish, so he could bring me home on his bicycle. He taught me how to swim in the Bukit Merah public swimming pool. He would patiently demonstrate the strokes to show me how to do it. Whatever patience I possess as a teacher now, I learned it from him.

When I went overseas for my studies, he waited for me to come home. When I decided one year not to come home in order to travel around in Europe, he waited for me still. His patience was the kind that gave his children the freedom to pursue their own lives. After I moved to New York, I would come home every summer and find him waiting for me. I don't mean to suggest that he was not doing anyt…