Featured

Poetry
REMEMBERING QIN’E

Not many people know that the great Chinese scholar Jao Tsung-I spent five years in Singapore as the first Chair and Head of Chinese Studies at the former University of Singapore. Appointed to an eight-year term in 1968, he left prematurely in 1973. This poem, which he wrote on his departure, now appears in English for the first time.

Poetry
NANTAH LONGINGS

The former Nanyang University (Nantah) continues to have an influence on the Singaporean Sinophone imagination today despite the closing of the university in 1980. We present in this issue translations of poems by two graduates, expressing their sense of loss and longing for their alma mater.

Essay
MOTHER TONGUE

What is a Mother Tongue to a Singaporean abroad? What is a Mother Tongue between a mother and a daughter exposed to different cultures? In this humorous but provocative essay, filmmaker and educator Woo Yen Yen reflects on the rich emotional significance of language and the experience of raising her daughter as a Singaporean based in New York.

Prose
LOST NOSTALGIA

A man leaves Singapore for decades, but carries the island in his heart. What happens when he returns to find a vastly more affluent society set in an unrecognizable landscape? Nazry Bahrawi translates this short story by Singapore Malay cultural icon Mohamed Latiff Mohamed into English for the first time.

Multimedia
《麻雀衔竹枝》

Banned from Singapore airwaves because of its Cantonese lyrics, the xinyao song《麻雀衔竹枝》(“Little Sparrow Found a Twig”) was finally broadcast simultaneously by three local Chinese radio stations when it was “unbanned” in 2013. Tina Sim translates into English this nostalgic folk song by composer Liang Wern Fook.

Prose
THE HOLE

In 2015, under the guidance of renowned Myanmar translator Moe Thet Han, a group of budding translators in Yangon translated the short stories of Singapore writer Alfian Sa’at from English into Myanmar. We feature one of them here, a reflection on capital punishment that asks: what changes when the one executed is your own flesh and blood?

Essay
GROWING UP IN BABEL

This excerpt of Lee Hui Min’s bestseller Growing Up under the Lee Kuan Era is translated from Chinese into English by five young participants of Select’s Translator Mentorship Program. Ranked as an influential book of the year by China’s largest books website, the book provides a personal view of Singapore’s rapid economic development and the costs it entailed.

Multimedia
BIRTH OF A TRANSLATOR

Husband-and-wife team Yang Quee Yee and Chan Maw Woh are pioneers of Chinese-Malay translation in Singapore, who have worked tirelessly to bridge these language communities. In this clip, they discuss how they came to learn Malay and begin to translate, and what prompted them to embark on this lifelong journey.