Former president S.R. Nathan launches memoirs

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong this evening launched "An Unexpected Journey: Path to the Presidency", the memoirs of former President S. R. Nathan.

Published by Editions Didier Millet (EDM), the memoir is a readable and frank account of Mr. Nathan's life journey, describing in forthright terms his path from humble beginnings all the way to presidency.

Mr. Nathan decided to write his memoirs after persistent prompting from his family and friends, who, after hearing various anecdotes from his childhood and early career, were keen to know more.

Generous financial support for the book was offered by the Lee Foundation, which ensured the book could reach fruition.

Mr. Nathan stresses that An Unexpected Journey is a personal memoir: "This book is not a comprehensive or 'official' history of modern Singapore." Rather, he hopes his book will offer unique personal insight into the laying of the foundations of modern Singapore by men such as Lee Kuan Yew, Dr. Goh Keng Swee and S. Rajaratnam. "I hope this book of memoirs gives a few glimpses of that achievement as seen at first-hand," he said.

Many notable figures in Singapore have already commented on Mr. Nathan's surprisingly open account of his life. Professor Wang Gungwu of NUS describes An Unexpected Journey as "a most remarkable story, told simply and honestly", adding that the chapters on S. R. Nathan's youth are particularly fresh and moving.

Philip Jeyaretnam commented: "A personal perspective from the corridors of power, the revelations in this candid memoir make intriguing reading for anyone interested in Singapore's story."

Didier Millet, the owner of EDM, said: "It is a pleasure to publish the memoirs of Singapore's longest-ever-serving President. I thank both Mr. Nathan for allowing us to document his rich and fascinating life story, and the Lee Foundation for its generous support."

Comprising 672 pages, An Unexpected Journey provides Mr. Nathan's detailed recollections of many events in Singapore's recent history. He talks in depth of his difficult childhood, recounts his experiences of the Japanese occupation during World War II, offers his personal observations on Singapore's relationship with Malaysia over the years, talks of his role in the Laju hijacking incident and discusses life as an international diplomat.

Finally, in the last chapter, Mr. Nathan speaks frankly of his time as President of Singapore: the nature of the role, his part in its evolution and how he sees the institution developing in the future.

An Unexpected Journey: Path to the Presidency is available at all leading bookstores island-wide and its retail price is $45.00 (excluding GST). Mr. Nathan is donating all royalties from the sales of the book to the S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund.