Book Launch: 50 Constitutional Moments that Defined a Nation

NUS Law congratulates Professor Kevin Tan & Professor Thio Li-ann  on the publication of their book, Singapore: 50 Constitutional Moments that Defined a Nation, published by Marshall Cavendish.

The book was launched on 21 October at The Arts House. The venue was extremely fitting as the building served as Singapore’s first Parliament House, where most of the historical constitutional moments in the book took place. The collection of short essays describes and explains the 50 constitutional moments that form major inflexion points in the trajectory of Singapore’s constitutional development. The authors have selected each of these ‘moments’ based on their impact in the forging of Singapore’s modern constitutional order.

Singapore inherited a Westminster-style constitution from the British who ruled the island for 140 years. Since Singapore’s independence in 1965, the Singapore constitution has received what co-author Professor Thio Li-ann   described as “an American gloss” as it has been amended and augmented several times and wherein uniquely Singapore institutions — such as the Elected Presidency and Group Representation Constitutions — were created. All these changes occurred against the backdrop of Singapore’s unique geographical location, multi-ethnic population and vulnerability to external forces.

Speaking to over 80 guests, including colleagues and students from NUS Law as well as the judiciary and members of the legal fraternity, Professor Kevin Tan thanked to everyone who helped them in getting the book published. Professor Thio Li-ann  said that the timing for introducing the book could not have been better as Singapore celebrates 50 years of independence this year. The book is mainly targeted at Singaporeans, and the authors hope that it will give an insight into the constitutional developments that have shaped our nation’s history.

In reaffirming the objective of the book, Guest-of-Honour, Mr Thio Shen Yi, SC, President of the Law Society, talked about the significance of the book in helping Singaporeans understand the constitutional history of Singapore and how the people’s choice of political order impacts the lives of everyone. He added that both Professor Kevin Tan and Professor Thio Li-ann  have reduced the complexity of the constitution into a book that makes it more “digestible” for reading, with “more full stops than commas.”

The book is available from Marshall Cavendish here.

The authors presenting the book to Mr Thio Shen Yi, SC, President of the Law Society

Associate Professor David Tan, Vice Dean of Academic Affairs (NUS Law), accepts the book from Professor Kevin Tan and Professor Thio Li-ann