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Straits Times Press launches Professor S Jayakumar's book “Be At The Table or Be On The Menu: A Singapore Memoir”

Singapore, 6 May 2015 – Straits Times Press (STP), the book publishing arm of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), today launched “Be At The Table or Be On The Menu: A Singapore Memoir”, written by Professor S Jayakumar. Professor S Jayakumar served as a Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament in the Singapore government from 1980 to 2011. 

The book launch was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Tanglin Road premises. The launch was attended by over 200 guests, including members of the diplomatic corps, former politicians, government officials and family members. 

In this 224-page book, Professor S Jayakumar gives the broad range of his experience as an academic and Dean in the Law Faculty, as Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and as a Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Senior Minister in the Singapore Cabinet.  

The book also offers rare glimpses of his growing up years. The book’s subtitle “A Singapore Memoir” is apt, because Professor S Jayakumar’s story is very much the story of Singapore’s challenges since the early years of its independence.

Professor S Jayakumar picks up from where his book “Diplomacy: A Singapore Experience” left off. Published in May 2011by Straits Times Press, “Diplomacy: A Singapore Experience” is a collection of his reflections on selected events and episodes during his tenure as Minister of Foreign Affairs (1994 to 2004) and as Permanent Representative to the United Nations (2001 to 2002).

“Be At The Table or Be On The Menu: A Singapore Memoir” comprises three main parts. 

In Part One, the book traces Professor S Jayakumar’s early years before politics -growing up during the post-Second World War period and life as a student in Raffles Institution, followed by Law School in the then-University of Singapore and his postgraduate studies at the Yale Law School. Serving as a Permanent Representative to the United Nations (1971-1974) during Singapore’s formative years as an independent nation was a defining moment for Professor S Jayakumar which influenced his decision to enter politics in 1980.

In Part Two of his book titled “Three Decades in Politics”, Professor S Jayakumar looks back at his time spent in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Law, Home Affairs and Labour as well as his other roles overseeing National Security, Climate Change, as Chair of the Ministerial Tender Approving Authority for the Integrated Resorts and as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of SINDA for 17 years. 

He gives his insights on how Singapore handled a wide-ranging host of milestone events such as the water agreements with Malaysia, the Pedra Branca dispute with Malaysia, and issues relating to the Internal Security Act and the death penalty. 

On issues closer to home, Professor S Jayakumar shared his views and rationale on how Singapore addressed the passing of legislation such as the Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMP), the Group Representation Constituencies (GRC) and the Elected Presidency. He also reflected on how Singapore successfully dealt with racial and religious harmony issues as well as crisis situations such as the Hotel New World collapse and the hijacking of the Singapore Airlines flight SQ117. 

In Part Three of his book, Professor S Jayakumar gives his assessments of the changing Singapore political landscape and explores how Singapore’s success can be sustained so long as it continues to observe high standards in implementing the fundamental principles and policies and to adapt and innovate where necessary so that Singapore is in a good stead. 

The book also includes a 32-page photo section which chronicles the key events of Professor S Jayakumar’s distinguished career as well as moments from his private life.  

Ms Susan Long, General Manager, Straits Times Press said:  "We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with Professor S Jayakumar once again on his latest book. Prof Jayakumar's memoirs are hard to put down. He writes with sincerity, economy, and humour. His book is dedicated to the late Lee Kuan Yew, whom he served with and admired greatly. In it, he shares poignant personal correspondence with his late colleague.

"In this memoir, he also shares personal insights and lessons from his illustrious career spanning politics and academia, and high-level appointments on the international stage. He also provides readers with a rare insight into the inner workings and deliberations behind Singapore’s foreign policy practice, as well as wide-ranging law, order and security issues affecting the country. We believe that this book, together with Prof Jayakumar’s first title “Diplomacy: A Singapore Experience”, will give Singaporeans and foreigners a useful broad overview of the pragmatic and unflinching principles and policies that shaped Singapore’s development."   

“Be At The Table or Be On The Menu: A Singapore Memoir” is available at leading bookstores at $27.82 (GST inclusive) from 7 May. The book can also be ordered from the Straits Times Press Online Bookstore from 7 May onwards.


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

For more information, please contact:

Mr Yeo Siew Chi

Corporate Communications & CSR
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID – 6319 1586
Email –

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 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.


The English/Malay/Tamil Media group comprises the print and digital operations of The Straits Times, The Business Times, The New Paper, Berita Harian and My Paper (English section). It also consists of Tamil Murasu Ltd, which publishes Tamil Murasu and tabla!; book publishing arm Straits Times Press; SPH Data Services, which licenses the use of the Straits Times Index, in partnership with the Singapore Exchange and FTSE Ltd; financial data company ShareInvestor; and the two English stations of SPH Radio - Kiss92 and ONE FM 91.3. 

The Chinese Media group publishes three Chinese newspapers - Lianhe Zaobao, Lianhe Wanbao and Shin Min Daily News; the digital editions of Lianhe Zaobao and Lianhe Wanbao, four student weeklies - zbCOMMA, Thumbs Up, Thumbs Up Junior and Thumbs Up Little Junior, ZbBz Newsgazine and My Paper (Chinese section). It also operates SPH Radio's Chinese radio station, UFM 100.3, and Focus Publishing, which produces a range of books and magazines including U-Weekly. 

SPH's other new media initiatives include Asiaone, Stomp, and SPH Razor. 

SPH Magazines, SPH's wholly-owned subsidiary, publishes and produces more than 100 magazine titles and has various online sites, like, and in Singapore and the region, covering a broad range of interests from lifestyle to information technology. It has also invested in digital newsstand Magzter.

SPH also provides out-of-home (OOH) advertising through its digital out-of-home platform SPHMBO.

SPH Buzz is a modern retail convenience chain with a network of stores around the island.

SPH 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 is a Singapore-based REIT established to invest in a portfolio of income-producing real estate primarily for retail purposes. 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 in the centre of Clementi town.

The Seletar Mall, located in Sengkang, is SPH's latest retail development. This property is a potential asset to be injected into SPH REIT. SPH’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Times Development Pte Ltd, also developed a 43-storey upmarket residential condominium, Sky@eleven, at Thomson Road.

Other Businesses

Online Classified

SPH's online classified include ST701, the leading online marketplace for jobs (STJobs), property (STProperty), cars (STCars) and general classifieds (STClassifieds), sgCarmart and Streetsine.

SPH's regional joint venture online classified business, 701Search, has a number of leading online classified sites in the region.

Events and Exhibitions
Sphere Exhibits, Sphere Conferences, Exhibits Inc and Bizlink Exhibition Services organise innovative consumer and trade events and exhibitions as well as large scale conferences in Singapore and the region. 
SPH has a 22 per cent stake in preschool and enrichment provider MindChamps.

For more information, please visit