Former Senior Minister S Jayakumar launches memoir

Former Senior Minister S Jayakumar launches memoir

SINGAPORE - Straits Times Press (STP), the book publishing arm of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), today launched "Be At The Table or Be On The Menu: A Singapore Memoir", written by Professor S Jayakumar. Professor S Jayakumar served as a Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament in the Singapore government from 1980 to 2011.

The book launch was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Tanglin Road premises. The launch was attended by over 200 guests, including members of the diplomatic corps, former politicians, government officials and family members.

In this 224-page book, Professor S Jayakumar gives the broad range of his experience as an academic and Dean in the Law Faculty, as Singapore's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and as a Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Senior Minister in the Singapore Cabinet.

The book also offers rare glimpses of his growing up years. The book's subtitle "A Singapore Memoir" is apt, because Professor S Jayakumar's story is very much the story of Singapore's challenges since the early years of its independence.

At the launch of the book at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Wednesday, Professor Jayakumar said that one of the lessons that he hopes emerges from his memoir is that Singapore should "never be deterred by the fact that we are a small country - we can still play a role on the world stage." 

Professor S Jayakumar picks up from where his book "Diplomacy: A Singapore Experience" left off. Published in May 2011by Straits Times Press, "Diplomacy: A Singapore Experience" is a collection of his reflections on selected events and episodes during his tenure as Minister of Foreign Affairs (1994 to 2004) and as Permanent Representative to the United Nations (2001 to 2002).

"Be At The Table or Be On The Menu: A Singapore Memoir" comprises three main parts.

In Part One, the book traces Professor S Jayakumar's early years before politics -growing up during the post-Second World War period and life as a student in Raffles Institution, followed by Law School in the then-University of Singapore and his postgraduate studies at the Yale Law School. Serving as a Permanent Representative to the United Nations (1971-1974) during Singapore's formative years as an independent nation was a defining moment for Professor S Jayakumar which influenced his decision to enter politics in 1980.

In Part Two of his book titled "Three Decades in Politics", Professor S Jayakumar looks back at his time spent in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Law, Home Affairs and Labour as well as his other roles overseeing National Security, Climate Change, as Chair of the Ministerial Tender Approving Authority for the Integrated Resorts and as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of SINDA for 17 years.

He gives his insights on how Singapore handled a wide-ranging host of milestone events such as the water agreements with Malaysia, the Pedra Branca dispute with Malaysia, and issues relating to the Internal Security Act and the death penalty.

On issues closer to home, Professor S Jayakumar shared his views and rationale on how Singapore addressed the passing of legislation such as the Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMP), the Group Representation Constituencies (GRC) and the Elected Presidency. He also reflected on how Singapore successfully dealt with racial and religious harmony issues as well as crisis situations such as the Hotel New World collapse and the hijacking of the Singapore Airlines flight SQ117.

In Part Three of his book, Professor S Jayakumar gives his assessments of the changing Singapore political landscape and explores how Singapore's success can be sustained so long as it continues to observe high standards in implementing the fundamental principles and policies and to adapt and innovate where necessary so that Singapore is in a good stead.

The book also includes a 32-page photo section which chronicles the key events of Professor S Jayakumar's distinguished career as well as moments from his private life.

Ms Susan Long, General Manager, Straits Times Press said: "We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with Professor S Jayakumar once again on his latest book. Prof Jayakumar's memoirs are hard to put down. He writes with sincerity, economy, and humour. His book is dedicated to the late Lee Kuan Yew, whom he served with and admired greatly. In it, he shares poignant personal correspondence with his late colleague.

"In this memoir, he also shares personal insights and lessons from his illustrious career spanning politics and academia, and high-level appointments on the international stage. He also provides readers with a rare insight into the inner workings and deliberations behind Singapore's foreign policy practice, as well as wide-ranging law, order and security issues affecting the country. We believe that this book, together with Prof Jayakumar's first title "Diplomacy: A Singapore Experience", will give Singaporeans and foreigners a useful broad overview of the pragmatic and unflinching principles and policies that shaped Singapore's development."

"Be At The Table or Be On The Menu: A Singapore Memoir" is available at leading bookstores at $27.82 (GST inclusive) from May 7. The book can also be ordered from the Straits Times Press Online Bookstore at: from May 7 onwards.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.



Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.