Book that explores the socio-cultural aspect of the Asean community launched

The book - Singapore: Insights from the Inside - offers perspectives of contributors across 20 nationalities.
The book - Singapore: Insights from the Inside - offers perspectives of contributors across 20 nationalities.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Discussions about Asean tend to focus on the political, security and economic issues, but a new book explores the socio-cultural aspect of the community.

The book, Singapore: Insights From The Inside, offers perspectives of contributors across 20 nationalities.

Speaking at the launch on Wednesday (May 30), Mr Ong Keng Yong, chairman of the Singapore International Foundation (SIF), said: "The 50 essays offer multi-faceted and interesting perspectives on the initiatives that the region can pursue, to help build a vibrant Asean community."

Now in its third volume, the book was launched by Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan at the National Gallery Singapore.

It comprises short essays and illustrations bound by the common theme of how a "people-oriented and socially responsible Asean community" can be achieved, SIF said.

The book is divided into five sections, each focusing on themes of identity, inclusiveness, innovation, imagination and influence.

Professor Matthew Herrmann, senior adviser of the Roosevelt Group and Adjunct Professor at American University, contributed to the book.

Drawing on his experience teaching students politics and policy in a technological age, Prof Herrmann expressed his views on how Singapore can use technology to foster a "greater Asean community".

He writes: "It may seem counter-intuitive, but technology can and should play a pivotal role in facilitating greater people-to-people engagements...

"Technology has the ability to transform engagement around the globe and notably in South-east Asia. As the chair of Asean in 2018, Singapore is uniquely situated to help facilitate this development within Asean."

In the book, Ms Chong Siak Ching, chief executive of the National Gallery Singapore, highlights the role art from South-east Asia can play in forging friendships between Asean members.

The third volume was published by The Nutgraf and edited by its partner, Ms Sue-Ann Chia.

Ms Chia said the book took six months of compiling and editing the contributions.

She said: "I especially like the part about identity, and how Asean is made of 10 different members, and yet some (essays) talk about the search for an 'Asean-ist' and to have an 'Asean' thinking...

"I hope that when readers read this, they can figure out for themselves whether they can see an 'Asean' in them."

The book from SIF, a non-profit organisation, is available for download from the SIF website www.sif.org.sg/sifti.