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BOOK LAUNCH: We Are Not The Enemy: The Practice of Advocacy in Singapore

Get a copy of We Are Not the Enemy: The Practice of Advocacy in Singapore and attend the launch!

For a few (okay, more than a few) years now, I’ve accepted that I’m no longer a fresh face on the Singapore civil society scene. There are likely activists who not only think I am older, but actually *gasp* old. But since I’ve contributed to a book edited by civil society stalwarts Constance Singam and Margaret Thomas, then I still get to be described as a “new kid on the block”, as Connie writes in the editor’s introduction of the upcoming book We Are Not the Enemy: The Practice of Advocacy in Singapore. What are my 14 years, after all, compared to Connie and Margie’s 40? 😅

Civil society is sometimes referred to as a “third sector” between governments and business/commerce. It’s made up of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), volunteer groups, charity groups, labour unions, indigenous groups, what have you. By rights, civil society should be a natural part of our society, a space in which anyone can enter and participate. But in a place in Singapore, civil society has been largely marginalised and pushed to the fringes, artificially split into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ activists according to the comfort and convenience of those in power. Through the targeting, demonising or misrepresentation of advocates, activists and organisations, we have cultivated a societal mindset in which being an activist is seen as something frightening or even dangerous, to be avoided if one doesn’t want to face unwelcome repercussions.

This makes books like We Are Not the Enemy (and also The Art of Advocacy in Singapore, another volume Connie and Margie edited in 2017) important. They demystify civil society work and the people that do them, bringing everyone closer together in understanding. They are opportunities for activists to share our motivations, thoughts and challenges, writing on our own terms away from the frames foisted on us by the state and the mainstream press. In We Are Not the Enemy, contributors like Cherian George, Corinna Lim, Irie Aman, Remy Choo, Singapore Climate Rally, Alfian Sa’at, Alex Au and myself write about why we do the things we do, what we struggle with, the communities we want to build and the strategies we employ. I haven’t had a chance to read the book through myself, but just scanning the content pages I’m already seeing so many chapters by friends and acquaintances that I'm looking forward to learning from.

We Are Not the Enemy will be launched on 17 March at 3pm. Ethos Books is trying out a book-ticket system: you buy a copy of the book and get a ticket to the launch (and pick up your book there). Those who buy a book ticket for the launch will also get a physical copy of The CAPE Handbook to Advocacy in Singapore, a collaboration between Ethos Books and the Community for Advocacy and Political Education (CAPE).