Thu, Aug 27, 2009
The untold story of S'pore's ruling party

Men in White, a new book narrating the story of the People's Action Party (PAP) through the voices of the victors and vanquished in their epic struggle for the hearts and minds of the people, will be launched by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) on 8 September.

Commissioned and published by SPH, the 692-page book comes with a four-page foreword by Minister Mentor (MM) Lee Kuan Yew who will be the guest-of-honour at the launch at The Arts House formerly known as Old Parliament House.

The launch will be attended by some 150 past and present PAP and non-PAP politicians. The guests included former legislative assemblymen who fought for and against the PAP in many crucial debates in the 1960s.

By capturing and distilling the voices of some 500 players and eyewitnesses to unfolding history, the book seeks to fill a void in Singapore history and unravel many of the mysteries, puzzles and questions surrounding the PAP story.

Men in White marks the culmination of seven years of planning, research, interviews and drafting by a seven-person project team headed by former SPH editor-in-chief Cheong Yip Seng, and subsequently, after Mr Cheong's retirement, by Straits Times editor Han Fook Kwang.

The book was written by three Straits Times journalists, Sonny Yap, Richard Lim and Leong Weng Kam supported by four researchers, Leong Ching, Tan Mui Leng, Goh Sue Lin and Sia Boon So. It was designed and produced by Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) Pte Ltd.

Men in White is the untold story of one of the world's most successful and longest ruling political parties.

The party had won 12 successive general elections since it assumed power in 1959.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the PAP in power.

Narrated in three parts, it is oral history told in a journalistic mode spiced with anecdotes, quotes and human interest.

To re-enact this political theatre-cum-human drama, the writers conducted some 300 interviews in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and China. This was supplemented by about 200 oral history interviews from the National Archives of Singapore.

An important consideration when doing the book was that it should represent the writers' version of the PAP story and not the party's. In his foreword, MM Lee said: "This is their book, not the PAP's."

Commenting on the book, Straits Times editor Han Fook Kwang said: "One of the attractions of the book is that it's done in a journalistic style. It's not a history book or an academic book. Journalists are trained to extract the most compelling material from those they interview and to write the story in the most engaging way for readers. I think we've succeeded in doing this because it is a fascinating story to begin with, and we fielded some of our best story-tellers to do the book."

30,000 copies will be printed. The book will be available at leading book stores from 8 September after the launch at $39.90 a copy (before GST).

MM Lee will autograph 20 limited edition copies of the book to be sold for charity at $10,000 a copy on a first-come, first-served basis.

Interested donors can email weenh@sph.com.sg. Proceeds from this charity sale will go to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund which helps needy students.

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