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Straits Times Press launches Singapore in Transition: Hope, Anxiety and Question Marks by Han Fook Kwang

Singapore, 7 June 2016 – Are Singaporeans a weak people? Do Singaporeans really deserve their wages? Why did founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew change his mind about writing his memoirs? 

Mr Han Fook Kwang, editor-at-large of The Straits Times, provides provocative answers to these questions in a 200-page collection of 40 commentaries analysing the nation’s politics, economy and society. The book is published by Straits Times Press, the book publishing arm of Singapore Press Holdings.

Singapore in Transition: Hope, Anxiety and Question Marks draws from some of Mr Han’s regular commentaries in The Straits Times and The Sunday Times since stepping down as the paper’s editor in 2012.

Among them are pieces on his reading of the watershed 2011 General Election and the equally surprising GE in 2015, new challenges facing the economy, what ails the medical profession and the public transport system and the importance of a vibrant civic society.

The book also features a selection of his writings on Mr Lee, whom he worked closely with on three books, including the bestselling Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going and One Man’s View of the World.

Mr Han graduated from the University of Leeds, England, in 1975 on a Colombo Plan scholarship, and obtained his Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University in 1983 on a Singapore Government scholarship.

He spent nine years in the Singapore Government’s Administrative Service before joining The Straits Times in 1989 as a senior feature and editorial writer. He was the paper’s political editor for about seven years before becoming its editor in 2002. He was appointed managing editor in 2012, and editor-at-large in 2014.

Singapore in Transition: Hope, Anxiety and Question Marks will be launched by Professor Koh at The Pod, National Library Board on June 16. The National Library Board is the venue sponsor of the book launch.

Mr Han said: “I have enjoyed spending more time writing since I stepped down as editor in 2012. What's kept me going are the responses I get from readers, sometimes encouraging me, at other times, disagreeing vigorously with me. I get much more feedback these days compared to when I joined the paper in 1989, and it's a reflection of how Singapore’s society is changing - more people are interested in public issues and want to have a say. It's a good sign, and newspapers should help promote the discussion.”

Ms Susan Long, general manager of Straits Times Press, said: “Fook Kwang’s collection of columns dissects with precision and deftness the biggest problems Singapore is facing today, simply, clearly and persuasively. He has the unique gift of getting people from both ends of the political spectrum to concur with him.”

Mr Warren Fernandez, editor of The Straits Times, said: “Fook Kwang brings his years of experience of covering Singapore and the many political challenges it  confronts to bear in his insightful and incisive columns. Readers will relish being able to sit back to enjoy them in a book.”

Mr Han’s writings have drawn a following, which counts among its ranks prominent politicians, entrepreneurs and thinkers.

In a note to Mr Han, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam wrote: “Many of the issues you write about come down to our social culture, and especially how we must respect everyone for who they are, and take personal and collective pride in every job done well. I agree with you that it’s this culture, the everyday interactions and quality of relationships, starting from when kids are growing up, that’s at the heart of the future we want - the mastery of skills, and deep solidarity among Singaporeans.”

 “Han Fook Kwang’s commentaries have become a must-read for anyone interested in original and insightful observations of Singapore society.”
- Ho Kwon Ping, executive chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings.

“What I value about Fook Kwang’s writings is that he appreciates that things are seldom black and white, and that there is validity in the non-official or contrarian narrative. It is no wonder that his opinions have earned a public following.”
- Ms Sylvia Lim, Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC and chairman of the Workers’ Party.

“Han Fook Kwang is one of our most thoughtful writers.  I read all his columns with pleasure and benefit.
- Professor Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr Han will promote the book at the Singapore Coffee Festival on June 12, Kinokuniya on June 25 and give a talk to The Big Read Meet at National Library, Victoria Street, on June 29.

The new book is available at all major bookshops at S$25 (inclusive of GST) and on


Issued By Singapore Press Holdings Ltd
Co. Regn. No. 198402868E

For more information, please contact:

Ilangoh Thanabalan
Marketing Manager
Straits Times Press Pte Ltd
DID: +65 6319 8346


Athena Kang
Assistant Manager
Corporate Communications & CSR
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID: +65 6319 1225


About Straits Times Press (STP)

Straits Times Press is a publishing house with more than 100 years of combined international publishing experience as a team. The team has won international and regional prizes for excellence in editorial, design and publishing.

Straits Times Press publishes History, Biographies/Memoirs, Politics, Culture, Food and Lifestyle books. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings Ltd.

For more information, please visit

About The Straits Times 

The Straits Times, the English-language flagship daily of Singapore Press Holdings, is the most-read newspaper in Singapore and is followed widely in the region for its comprehensive coverage of local, regional and world news, provided by its correspondents in 20 bureaus in major cities worldwide. 

Launched on July 15, 1845, The Straits Times underwent a major redesign across all platforms in July 2015, when it celebrated its 170th anniversary. This revamp is part of its continuing efforts to refresh its products, maintain quality and stay relevant to the changing needs of its readers. Its integrated newsroom operates round-the-clock, providing readers with news as it happens on all platforms, from its website at, Apple and Android apps to social media. 

The Straits Times is a member of two media networks - the Asia News Network and the Impact Journalism Day alliance of newspapers - and it has won multiple international media awards, including from the Society of Publishers in Asia, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers' Association (Panpa), Society of News Design and Wan-Ifra. Its revamped paper won a gold medal for overall newspaper design by the World Association of Newspaper at the Asian Media Awards in Manila this year.

About Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

Incorporated in 1984, main board-listed Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SPH) is Asia’s leading media organisation, engaging minds and enriching lives across multiple languages and platforms, ranging from print, digital, radio and out-of-home media.

SPH owns award-winning newspapers, magazines and best-selling books in both print and digital editions, as well as online classified businesses in the region. In addition, SPH has two English radio stations and one Chinese radio station, an out-of-home digital advertising unit, a regional events and conferences arm, and runs a chain of modern retail convenience stores. SPH also has a 20 per cent stake in MediaCorp TV Holdings Pte Ltd, which operates free-to-air channels 5, 8 and U, and a 40 per cent stake in MediaCorp Press Limited, which publishes the free newspaper, Today.

SPH REIT comprises Paragon, a premier upscale retail mall and medical suite/office property in Orchard Road and The Clementi Mall, a mid-market suburban mall. SPH's latest retail development is The Seletar Mall located in Sengkang.

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