New book compiles first series of IPS-Nathan lectures delivered by Ho Kwon Ping

Former president S R Nathan (left) presenting the book to Mr Ho Kwon Ping at the launch on Oct 30, 2015.
Former president S R Nathan (left) presenting the book to Mr Ho Kwon Ping at the launch on Oct 30, 2015.ST PHOTO: LIM YAN LIANG

SINGAPORE - A series of five lectures that were given earlier this year by the first S R Nathan Fellow for the Study of Singapore has been collected in a book.

Launched on Friday (Oct 30) night, the book titled The Ocean in a Drop - Singapore: The Next Fifty Years reproduces the lectures by Banyan Tree Holdings' Executive Chairman Ho Kwon Ping on a number of forward-looking topics ranging from politics and governance to society and identity.

During these lectures organised by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Mr Ho had put forward several controversial ideas, such as national service for women and doing away with caning.

Former president S R Nathan, who was at the launch, said: "With his rich and vast experiences, it is befitting that we share his experiences in the book ahead of us."

In a speech at the launch, Mr Ho said that asking "why" had landed him in trouble many times throughout his life - including a stint where he was detained under the Internal Security Act - but which also helped test and strengthen his convictions.

"Asking why has led me to be thrown out of Stanford, jailed in California, barred from entry to the USA for two decades, and detained in Singapore under the ISA," he said.

"But my intention has never been to challenge something for its own sake. Indeed… asking why has led me to reinforce several fundamental convictions and discover some innovative thoughts."

A former journalist, Mr Ho was detained under the ISA in 1977 for writing articles with a pro-Communist slant.

Mr Ho said the book is not meant to be a manifesto or a coherent policy paper, but will hopefully stimulate others, especially the young, to explore issues Singapore faces in the future and the type of society they want to live in.

Published by World Scientific Publishing in collaboration with IPS, the book is available at bookstores at S$48 for the hardcover and S$25 for the paperback edition.