Jeevan VasagarSep 30, 2021
Singapore and the Invention of Modern Asia
Pegasus Books 2022
Everyone looks to Singapore as a role model for what they want their country to be. Several countries from China to Rwanda hope to emulate its high administrative competence, standard of living, and “social harmony.” Post-Brexit Britain wants to copy the city-state’s assertive and independent position in the world economy and its aggressive support for international business. Housing policy advocates look to Singapore and its 90% home ownership rate.
But these are all simplistic views of the city-state, that miss its history, its opportunities, and its challenges. Jeevan Vasagar’s Lion City: Singapore and the Invention of Modern Asia (Pegasus Books, 2022), delves into those more complicated details, giving a better portrayal of the city and the choices it’s made as it tries to navigate a more complicated global environment.
In this interview, Jeevan and I talk about, well, Singapore: its history, its leadership, and its policies. We’ll talk about how its administration is trying to chart a future for the country—and whether that might be successful.
Jeevan Vasagar is the Environment Editor for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and was formerly the Financial Times Correspondent for Singapore and Malaysia. He can be followed on Twitter at @jeevanvasagar.
Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.