What is Singapore?

Singapore Insights from the Inside is a compilation of reflective pieces, short stories and personal anecdotes by members of the international community who have lived, and are living, in Singapore.

Singapore Insights from the Inside is a biennial publication capturing the stories of Singapore’s international community, past and present.

“How many Europeans can tell you who the leaders of China and India are?” was a question Fredrik Haren pin-pointedly asked his audience. According to him, far less than the number of Singaporeans who can do the same. And this, he explained, to a large crowd of international and local Singaporeans, was the reason why he had chosen Singapore as his home. “Singapore is a truly multi-racial country.”

The audience he was speaking to had gathered at The Arts House on 10 May 2012 to celebrate a book that reiterates Haren’s sentiment in many different ways, through many different perspectives.Singapore Insights from the Inside, published by the Singapore International Foundation, is a compilation of reflective pieces, short stories and personal anecdotes by members of the international community who have lived, and are living, in Singapore.

With 31 contributors from 19 countries, the result is an authentic insider’s guide to Singapore through the eyes of its international community. It brings together the writings of individuals including, among others, an artist, academics, journalists, corporate and non-profit sector professionals, students, volunteers, an author, a banker, a medical professional, and entrepreneur, a lawyer, and an architect.

Several strands run through this collection of essays, from admiration for Singapore’s astonishingly quick progress and the search for the soul of Singapore, to an interpretation of the locals’ habit of reverse parking and the inspiration that Singapore evokes. Fredrik, who is one of the writers, describes Singapore as “the one place on earth where it is easiest to have a globally creative mindset”.

The launch event saw a large turn out of contributors, alongside other partners and friends of SIF, from both the local and international community, to celebrate and ponder the very question the book seeks to answer. “I had interesting discussions…with a German, a Romanian, a China national, an American, Peruvian, Filipinos, a Malaysian and a bunch of Singaporeans - and that is exactly why I love to live in Singapore,” says Fredrik.

The Q&A session saw an engaged audience pose challenging questions and receive authentic answers from panelists Governor K. Kesavapany, editor David Fedo, and contributors Fredrik Haren, Ronald Stride and Alvin Amadeo Witirto.

According to Governor Kesavapany, “The camaraderie made the event more like a reunion of friends rather than a staid and sombre book-launch. The Q&A was like a town-hall session where people freely asked questions that were bothering them."

With the book officially launched, book contributor Chris Edwards enjoyed reading her fellow writers’ essays, “It made me stop and think about Singapore and its uniqueness on so many levels. It's a terrific initiative – truly Singaporean too!”

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