In a first ever publication of its kind, Singapore’s advocates and activists discuss the strategies shaped, and the lessons learnt, as they work to bring about the changes they believe important for the nation.
The book, The Art of Advocacy in Singapore, will be launched on Sunday 5 November at 11.30 am to 12.30 pm during the Singapore Writers Festival which located at Gallery II, The Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Lane. It is the culmination of the three-year Singapore Advocacy Awards (SAA) initiative that saw a total of 18 individuals and organisations being honoured for their contributions to civil society in Singapore.
In the book, 37 activists – many of them winners of the Awards - write about the challenges they have faced in pursuing their causes, and their successes and failures in trying to bring about changes in laws, policies and practices, and perceptions.
Civil society stalwart Constance Singam, who co-edited the book with former journalist Margaret Thomas, describes it as a "definitive history of civil society activist in the last 40 years or so".
She adds, "Civil society activists live on the edge, forever struggling, meeting deadlines, struggling for lack of volunteers, for lack of financial resources, and at the same time often working full-time in paying jobs. But they were all prepared to contribute to the book, to jog their memories to remember long forgotten experiences, to do research just for this book, all the work done voluntarily and joyfully."
The essays range from detailed accounts of the work of the Nature Society, one of the oldest civil society organisations in Singapore, and the Singapore Heritage Society to more personal pieces by young activists such as Kirsten Han and Damien Chng, both of whom work for, among other things, the abolition of the death penalty.
A list of the causes and authors, and some quotes from the essays, is attached.
The book includes information about the Awards and the 18 people and organisations who were honoured, and the various events organised during the three years. Also included is the lecture at an SAA event in 2015 by journalism professor and writer Cherian George about freedom of expression in Singapore.
Published by Ethos Books, The Art of Advocacy in Singapore will be available on the Ethos Books web-store (www.ethosbooks.com.sg) from 3 November, and at the SWF Festival Bookstore from 5 Nov. It should be on sale at the main bookstores from 13 Nov onwards.
Launched in 2014, the Singapore Advocacy Awards aimed to celebrate and affirm the contributions of individuals and organisations to the development of a vibrant civil society in Singapore. The SAA was a peer initiative, being organised by a group of civil society activists called The Working Committee 3.