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GE books hot off the press

...constitutional issues, and overseas constituencies, to mainstream and social media. The picture editor and designer of GE2011: We Were There, Mr Tay Kay Chin, tells Life! that the idea for the magazine came out of an idle conversation...
The Straits Times - May 26, 2011
By: magdalen ng
| More
GE books hot off the press

It was a watershed election and the cheers, jeers and tears are now captured in two print publications out to get the vote of the reading public.

The first of these campaign keepsakes, GE2011: We Were There, was quick off the mark, being launched on Tuesday at Sinema Old School, not even three weeks after the General Election on May 7.

It is a 60-page magazine of pictures taken by 16 photographers, chronicling the nine-day campaign period from its start to Polling Day. The pictures are both in black and white, and colour, and showcase the different styles of photographers, from informal to personal, to close-ups and landscapes.

A variety of scenes from the elections are featured, ranging from candidates taking a break or on stage making speeches, to Singaporeans who thronged the different rally venues.

The other publication is Voting In Change: Politics Of Singapore's General Elections 2011, to be launched on June 11. It is more academic and has 10 articles discussing issues raised by the elections, from parties and personalities, legal and constitutional issues, and overseas constituencies, to mainstream and social media.

The picture editor and designer of GE2011: We Were There, Mr Tay Kay Chin, tells Life! that the idea for the magazine came out of an idle conversation in March between him and his good friend, academic Cherian George. Dr George eventually became the publisher and editor of the magazine.

'Every time we meet, we talk about what we can do together. Most times, the ideas are usually impractical or crazy, but when Cherian asked if we would help out, I agreed and immediately decided to organise it,' says Mr Tay, 46, who runs the photojournalism programme at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Dr George, an associate professor at NTU, says: 'I would not have suggested it if I did not already know that there was a pool of talented documentary photographers in Singapore.'

Contributors include former Straits Times photojournalist Edwin Koo, Bob Lee who used to work for My Paper and Lianhe Zaobao, and Associated Press photographer Wong Maye-e.

Most of the photographers are regulars of Platform, a volunteer group of photographers.

Dr George adds: 'I wanted this to be about the General Election as a national event rather than a political process and it should be something that is treasured by all Singaporeans across the political spectrum.'

To keep the book non-partisan, Mr Tay had a tough balancing act in selecting pictures.

'Some of the younger guys were smitten with Nicole Seah, so I made sure that for every picture of her I used, I put in one of Tin Pei Ling,' he says with a laugh.

All proceeds from the book will be donated to the Wee Kim Wee Legacy Fund at NTU.

Dr George will also be contributing an essay on social media to the GE book put out by local publishing house Ethos Books which also had its seeds in a conversation. This time, it was between Dr George, Australia-based academic Terence Lee and constitutional law expert Kevin Tan in June last year, while they were attending a conference on media law in Melbourne.

'Terence made a point about how Singaporean writers don't do as well as our Malaysian counterparts when it comes to instant analysis. It would probably take us three to four years,' says Dr Tan over the phone.

'So I said, 'if you want to do something like this, you will have to start planning now. If you start only when the event is over, your analysis won't be sharp or deep'.

'They asked me, 'So you want to do or not?' and I told them if I do it, you will die because I will give you one week to write after Polling Day, in the hope that they would say 'you siao ah? (are you crazy?)'. But they all agreed.'

Contributors include political scientist Lam Peng Er, Singapore Management University law lecturer Eugene Tan and political observer and blogger Alex Au.

Despite the writers' academic credentials, Dr Tan assures readers that academia can also be readable.

He adds: 'Given the immediacy of the book being published now rather than in three months, there is still interest in the elections. Also, we haven't seen the complete fallout, right?'

songyuan@sph.com.sg

GE2011: We Were There (Mixmedia/2011/$11) is available at Books Kinokuniya, Books Actually and online (www.mixmedia.sg). Voting In Change: Politics Of Singapore's General Elections 2011 will be out on June 11 and the price is not available yet.

'Given the immediacy of the book being published now rather than in three months, there is still interest in the elections'

Dr Kevin Tan (above), a constitutional law expert and editor of Voting In Change: Politics Of Singapore's General Elections 2011

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