Category Archives: Articles

Where Are My Country(wo)men? The Lack of Singaporean Academics in Singapore’s Universities


Carissa Kang and I offer our take on the lack of Singaporean faculty members in Singapore’s universities. We hope this small article will encourage further conversation and dialogue on this pertinent issue. We are grateful to Stephen Ceci, Chan YingKit, Ian Chong, Saroja Dorairajoo, Abdullah Hanisah, Lai Ah-Eng, Lim Wah Guan, Victor Seow, Lindsay Strogatz, Eugene Tan, and Nurfadzilah Yahaya for their helpful comments. Special thanks to Pavin Chachavalpongpun for the prompt review and publication of our paper. Usual disclaimers apply.

Where Are My Country(wo)men? The Lack of Singaporean Academics in Singapore’s Universities
Jack Chia and Carissa Kang
Cornell University

The underrepresentation of Singaporean faculty members in Singaporean universities has been a topic of great interest since NMP Eugene Tan raised the issue in parliament a year ago. In an exploratory study conducted for a seminar class at Cornell University, 43 Singaporean PhD students studying overseas (84%) and in Singapore (16%) were contacted to complete a brief online survey. The purpose of this survey was to find out if the low proportion of Singaporean faculty in local universities could be due to Singaporean PhD graduates not applying for academic positions in Singapore. In the survey, some crucial questions included respondents’ career plans (including reasons for these plans), as well as their thoughts on the low ratio of Singaporean faculty in Singaporean universities. While some acknowledged that the recruitment of foreign talent in local universities was good for ‘injecting international perspectives’ and beneficial for research, several others had preconceived notions that the government had a ‘preference for hiring foreigners’, or that job prospects were simply better elsewhere in the world. However, the general consensus in this sample is that Singapore is not doing enough to cultivate and retain local talent, and that local universities could be playing a more proactive role in a) demystifying hiring policies, and b) creating initiatives to attract local talent back home.

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A Recent Quest for Religious Roots: The Revival of the Guangze Zunwang Cult and its Sino-Southeast Asian Networks, 1978-2009

Journal of Chinese Religions

This article examines issues surrounding the revival of the cult of Guangze Zunwang and its religious networks between Southeast China and the Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore from 1978 to 2009. It reveals that the quest of overseas Chinese for the religious roots of Guangze Zunwang’s cult has contributed to the rebuilding of the Shishan Fengshan Si in particular and the cult’s sacred sites in general. The resurgence of diasporic religious networks has facilitated the transnational movement of financial resources and allowed overseas Chinese to make regular pilgrimages and participate in the cult’s religious activities in China. I argue that, on the one hand, this renewal of religious ties, which has led to the proliferation of pilgrimages and religious excursions to the cult’s sacred sites in China, and expeditions from China to Malaysia and Singapore, has benefited both the Shishan Fengshan Si and the overseas temples; on the other hand, it led to religious competition and inter-temple rivalries between the different principal sites of the cult in China.

Keywords: Guangze Zunwang, Fengshan Si, Sino-Southeast Asian networks, Fujian, Nan’an, Malaysia, Singapore

中新关系中的佛教—宏船法师及其访华 (1982-1990)



关键词: 中新关系  宏船法师  佛教交流  非正式外交


The Makers and Keepers of Singapore History








In exploring the past, researchers labour in the present: to locate the archival document which is located somewhere behind a gate with its keeper; or to find that elusive participant who will throw light on a gap in our knowledge, and convince them to speak. The Makers and Keepers of Singapore History meditates on this relationship between past and present in a developmental city-state. It discusses how researchers seek to gain entry to archives and memories, in endeavours which crucially shape the imagination of Singapore as a nation and the identity of its people as citizens.


Part 1 – History & The Gates

Chp 1: Encounters at the Gates – Loh Kah Seng

Chp 2: Walls, Gates and Locks: Reflections on Sources for Research on Student Political Activism – Huang Jianli

Chp 3: Archival Records in the Writing of Singapore History: A Perspective from the Archives – Kwa Chong Guan and Ho Chi Tim

Part 2 – Front Gates

Chp 4: Traversing the Boundaries of Historical Research: From the Singapore River to the Kra Canal – Stephen Dobbs

Chp 5: Seeking the Bukit Ho Swee Fire – Loh Kah Seng

Chp 6: Research on Rural Associations in the Early Phase of Nation-building in Singapore – C. C. Chin

Chp 7: An Insider’s Research into Buddhist History – Jack Chia Meng Tat

Chp 8: Archaeology and its Role in the Construction of Singapore History – Derek Heng

Chp 9: The National Museum as Maker and Keeper of Singapore History – Kevin Y. L. Tan

Part 3 – Side Gates

Chp 10: Perils and Prospects of Researching the Maria Hertogh Controversy – Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied

Chp 11: Making and Keeping the History of the US Involvement in Singapore – S. R. Joey Long

Chp 12: The United States, the Cold War and Countersubversion in Singapore – P. J. Thum

Chp 13: Writing Diplomatic History: A Personal Journey – Ang Cheng Guan

Chp 14: Digging up the Past in Singapore, Mainland China and Taiwan: Research into the Overseas Chinese Merchants in the China-Singapore Trade – Jason Lim

Part 4 – Memory Gates

Chp 15: Singapore Memories: Remembering, and the Makers and Keepers of Singapore History – Ernest Koh Wee Song

Chp 16: Oral History as a Product of Malleable and Shifting Memories in Singapore – Kevin Blackburn

Chp 17: The Women I Met – Lai Ah Eng

Chp 18: Researcher Positionalities, Moral Gatekeeping and Knowledge Production: Some Thoughts on Doing Research on the Samsui Women in Singapore – Kelvin E. Y. Low

Chp 19: A Diaspora at War: National and Transnational Narratives of Singapore’s Second World War – Ernest Koh Wee Song

Chp 20: A Personal Journey in Search of Art and Society in Singapore – Lim Cheng Tju

Chp 21: Coming to Terms with Relocation and Loss: Interviews on Diminishing Memories – Eng Yee Peng

Chp 22: Film and the Making and Keeping of Singapore History and Memory:A Dialogue with Martyn See and Tan Pin Pin moderated by Loh Kah Seng

Chp 23:The ‘Detention-Writing-Healing’ Forum, 2006: A Public Oral History of Former Leftists

For more information about the book and reviews, visit The Makers & Keepers of Singapore History.

Managing The Tortoise Island: Tua Pek Kong Temple, Pilgrimage, and Social Change in Pulau Kusu, 1965-2007



This article examines the Guiyu Fushangong Tua Pek Kong Temple (龟屿福山宫大伯公庙) and religious activities in Pulau Kusu as they intersect with the larger forces of social change, state management, and development of the Southern Islands since the independence of Singapore for the period from 1965 to the present. It contends that the state’s interest in the economic potential of the Tua Pek Kong Temple, and the attempt to seek profit from its religious activities in particular over the last two decades, has very much affected the temple and contributed to the commercialization and “touristization” of the island. The state authorities have tried to reduce the autonomy of Pulau Kusu, exerting more control over the temple, and management of the island. They also sought to profit from the religious activities, as seen from their monopoly of goods and services, promotion of commercial activities, and their attempt to transform the island into a tourist site.


Pulau Kusu, Tua Pek Kong Temple, Pilgrimage, Grand Uncle, Southern Islands, Singapore

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Buddhism in Singapore: A State of the Field Review


This article reviews the existing scholarship on Buddhism in Singapore by leading academics and graduate students in the field from Singapore and abroad. By investigating the various ways in which Buddhist beliefs, practices, and organizations in Singapore have been studied, it suggests that more micro studies dealing with specific issues and smaller case studies remains to be done. The article concludes with some suggestions for future research in this field of study.

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