ST book a toast to S'pore and its unique ways

The Straits Times is toasting Singapore's Golden Jubilee next year with a new book that celebrates the country's unique institutions, inventions and quirks.

The hardcover 248-page book, 50 Things To Love About Singapore, contains 50 essays by some of the paper's most authoritative reporters on a wide range of things that make Singapore distinctive, from the love of acronyms to Merlion-themed poetry to Electronic Road Pricing.

The Straits Times, which celebrates its 170th anniversary next year, conceived of the book as a love letter to the country - celebrating its achievements, laughing at the offbeat and reflecting on the complexities of the island nation.

It is edited by senior writer Susan Long and published by Straits Times Press, a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings.

The book will be launched at the Singapore Writers Festival tomorrow at the Festival Pavilion on Singapore Management University's campus green. The book will be on sale there, and some of its writers will be there to sign it. The Straits Times is the festival's official media partner.

Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez said the book was just one of the ways the newspaper plans to mark the twin anniversaries - Singapore's 50th and ST's 170th.

"We have been chronicling the story of Singapore, both the good and the bad, for a long time, and this book tells it like an insider would, frankly yet lovingly. The team has done a great job in bringing Singapore's unique quirks to life and produced a most enjoyable read."

Ms Long said that she intended the book to be a "composite psychological portrait of Singapore at half-time, or age 50, how her personality and character was taking shape".

"I wanted to reflect on all the little quirks, incongruities and rhythms of life in Singapore, also where she was showing her age, and where she was still struggling to find her edge."

The contributors include some of the paper's key writers such as senior sports correspondent Rohit Brijnath, senior health correspondent Salma Khalik and Life! deputy editor Clarissa Oon.

Ms Long said editing the book opened her eyes to the "offbeat, unexpected and unheralded sides" of Singapore.

More than 1,500 copies of the book have been pre-ordered. One early bird customer is Mapletree Investments, a real estate development, investment and capital management company, which has pre-ordered 100 copies.

It will present the book to the company's foreign business associates. Ms April Lee, head of corporate communications at Mapletree Investments, said that the book is a "good showcase of Singapore".

"The essays about things that define Singapore are engaging and they tell of our country's coming of age."

The book is available at all leading bookstores at $25 from tomorrow.

To order, e-mail or call 6319-8347 from Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm.

This article was first published on November 6, 2014.
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