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Introduction to Southeast Asian Studies


Discuss about the Life and Work of Hong Lysa.

Southeast Asian Studies refers to education and research on the culture, languages and history of different ethnic groups and states of Southeast Asia. There are several scholars, which had a great impact on the studies in the Southeast Asian region. They have supported the education, history and culture in the area. Conducting the study about any scholar may assist in understanding the history of that region or particular country. Here, the chosen scholar is Hong Lysa, who is a famous Singaporean historian. The job of a historian is very difficult, because they need to do the work of reviewing and understanding the past. When the people require the detailed information about the history or past, they prefer to approach historians. These people publish the books and writings about all the topics, different types of people and places. This essay includes different aspects related to Hong Lysa, such as; her writings, books, biography, legacy etc. Different websites and journals have been searched to collect the data about the work of Hong Lysa.

There are different books, which have beliefs, facts and traditions related to the life, career and interests of Hong Lysa. Her writings have a significant impact on the field. The books, which are authored by Hong are assisting the government and political activists in managing the history of nation. It can assist the country in managing its culture and education among students. The books of Hong Lysa are very much focused on the learning and teaching for the students, so they are very useful to the students, who are interested in studying history (Blackburn, 2016). This essay will assist in understanding the books and life of Hong Lysa as a scholar in her field. Furthermore, it will have the discussion about the people, who were very important in the life of Hong Lysa and who have motivated her to become an active historian in Thailand and Singapore.

Dr. Hong Lysa is a popular historian, who was born in a Singaporean middle class family. She had completed her studies from primary right up to pre-university at CHIV Victoria Street. Currently, it is known as CHIJMES. Then, Hong entered in the phase of adulthood after the completion of her tertiary studies. She had done her education from a well-known university, i.e. University of Singapore. Then after, she had completed her PhD course from Sydney University, Australia. After the completion of this course, she was known as Dr. Hong Lysa. Dr. Hong Lysa is a historian, who worked on 19th century history of Thailand prior to turning to the history of Singapore (Gomes, 2016).

Hong Lysa as a Historian and Scholar

From 1984 to 2000, she had worked as a historian and researcher in National University of Singapore (NUS). National University of Singapore is one of the top ranked universities in the world. In this period, she was working as a member of History Department and simultaneously from 1992, Southeast Asia Education Program. After leaving her academic center, which she was having, Dr. Hong Lysa has worked as an independent writer and researcher. In addition to this, she is also involved in politics of the history writing in Singapore country (Spector, et al, 2014). Hong Lysa possesses different skills and abilities in her field, such as; effective communication skills, research and investigative skills, ability to evaluate and predict the required data and information and interest in culture, society and human behavior. She has all the essential skills, which assisted Hong in enhancing her image and popularity in this discipline.

People can follow her on her blog, although she denies that she does not update her blog routinely. Link for her blog is “ The comments on this blog are very much important, when they are related to history. Moreover, people can follow her works and contributions on an e-journal website, i.e. “”. Dr. Hong is a founding person of this e-journal website, which provides students new directions in the studies in Singapore. Hong Lysa is one of the publishers of “The 1963 Operation Coldstore in Singapore” that was published in the year 2013 (Caruth, 2016). There are various books and writings of Dr. Hong Lysa, which are influential for the society and students in the country. Along with her books, she has also published on history and historiography of Thailand and Singapore as well. She was very good scholar as she has argued that native scholars do not require to justify their focus on nation and in fact have a captivating sense of mission in doing their own work and tasks, which generally cannot be separated from their roles and responsibilities as the members of that particular society (Chong, Hye-Kyung & Lim, 2014).

There are various books and contents, which are authored and co-authored by Dr. Hong Lysa. Before discussing about her own work on the history of Singapore and Thailand, here is the discussion about her scholarly interests. The scholarly interests include different work and writings of other authors. These are some books and writings, which are very important to the life of Dr. Hong and meant most to Hong. Some of these books are stated below;

  • Tan Jing Quee and Jomo KS, Comet in our Sky: Lim Chin Siong in History (2001)
  • Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995)
  • Shahid Amin, Event, Metaphor, Memory: Chauri Chaura 1922-1992 (1995)
  • Rachel Leow, Taming Babel: Language in the Making of Malaysia (2017)

Hong Lysa's Education and Career

There are some titles of books, which motivate her to perform and execute the things in an effective manner. By looking at these titles or themes, it can be realized that this Singaporean Historian is very passionate about the power and how it impacts the heritage or past records (Entwistle, 2015).

Tan Jing Quee and Jomo KS, Comet in our Sky: Lim Chin Siong in History (2001) is one of the most preferred books for Dr. Hong Lysa. This book is the combination of personal and academic reflections on Lim Chin Siong, who was a magnetic political person in the post war history of Singapore Country. Lim was the founding person in the People’s action Party (PAP) that is well-known political party in the country (Harrison, & Jackson, 2010). He was a rising political star in 1960s. After considering the facts, it can be seen that on the book of Lim Chin Siong, the scholar Dr. Hong stated that she realized that this book was the path breaking art in order to reduce the re-launching the inhibited past of post-war history of Singapore. On this, the author also stated that Dr. Hong feels very strong about providing the voice to the relegated, silenced and forgotten voice of country’s strategy (Wee, 2002).

Moreover, Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) is another book, which is she waiting for me. Hong Lysa is interested in this book and learned so many things from this writing. Silencing the Past is one of the thought provoking evaluation of historical structure. Hong is very much passionate about the history, so that it liked very much about this book (Lau, 2013). This book gives various examples, which range from the Haitian Revolution to Columbus Day. About this book, Hong stated that this was a classic and important work on historiography and the book starts with a very interested notion, i.e. there are two aspects of the history, i.e. one is socio-historical process and another one is historical description. This book is very useful for the historians and other authors, who like to make sense of unclear work. Thus, this is the major reason that Hong is interested in this book and preferred it as her scholarly interest (King, 2015). The information and knowledge about these aspects assist the chosen scholar in attaining her goals and publishing its books on the basis of given past information and records about the country (Trouillot, 1995).

Books and Writings of Hong Lysa

Every person has an ideal in his/her life, from whom he/she learned to work and get motivation and they are known as influencers. These people get the credits of a successful career. There are some individuals, to whom Hong credits, like; Craig Reynolds, Maurizio Peleggi, Nidhi Aeusriwongse, Chatthip Nartsupha, Kasian Tejapira and Thongchai Winichakul. These people have been the most motivating and inspirational for selected scholar, i.e. Dr Hong Lysa (Yang, et al, 2015).

Craig Reynolds was first PhD supervisor, who was working with the Cornell School of Thai Studies. Lysa considers Reynolds as revolutionary, because he broke away from classical area of Thailand’s monarchy approaches and not focusing on the students using the area. The focus is on the student rising in the year 1973 Bangkok and overthrow after 3 years (Lim, et al, 2014).

Moreover, professor Peleggi is her colleague from the similar division and he is still teaching in the same department of National University of Singapore. In the case of Hong Lysa, it was very interesting that she recognized scholars only from Thailand as motivational peers and there were not domestic colleagues were provided. Here, it can be assumed that it might be that her foundations were built on the history of Thailand that had created her opinions and thinking but Hong clarified that the actual reason behind this is that she always believed that these Thai scholars were more public intellects, intensely connected with the communities and societies, not only in the academic history (Lysa, 2016).

Chatthip Nartssupha is another person, who motivated and inspired Hong Lysa to work as a historian. Nartcupha is the senior lecturer of Economic History at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. Hong believed that he is the person, who loves to take challenges in the field. He is also from Thailand culture.

Apart from above mentioned names, there are two more names, such as; Kasian Tejapira and Thongchai Winichakul. These people are also from the Thailand. Thus, from above names, it can be noted that most of the people in her list of influencers and compatriots is from Thai culture. In this context, Hong Lysa believed that there are not historians from Singapore currently, who succeed as one. Hong is one of the PhD. Scholar, who performed her field work by communicating with Thai youth activists. She was having more trust on Thai people than Singaporeans, as they supported her in her beginning phase. It assisted her in establishing herself in academic career and finally her different interests in the inhibited and marginalized segments of the country’s society. Thus, these are the people, to whom Hong Lysa wants to give her credits for her success as a historian in Singapore.

Scholarly Interests of Hong Lysa

After discussing the books and writings about other authors, this is the time to explain about the work and writings apart from these. There are so many books, which are published by Hong Lysa. These books are authored or co-authored by her, such as; living in a time of deception (2016), The 1963 Operation Coldstore in Singapore: Commemorating 50 Years (2013), The May 13 Generation: The Chinese Middle Schools Student Movement and Singapore Politics in the 1950s (2011) and The Scripting of a National History: Singapore and its Pasts (2008). She is the co-publisher of Dr. Poh Soo Kai’s historical way staying in the time, when living in a time of deception has been published in the year 2016 (Lysa, 2016).

From these books, two of these theories are explored and information regarding both the books is included in the next slide of given presentation. Since late 90s, there are so many publications, which indicate developing new academic trends in the post-war history of Singapore. This modern trend makes the case for pragmatic theory, which operates counter to the national narrative and state discourse (Seng, & Tan, 2016).

This is one of the most powerful content, which is given by Hong Lysa and Poh Soo Kai. It is powerful and well-researched and organized history of Singapore country, which will be precious for the scholars and other people, like; aspiring political activists, expecting for a more democratic country. By looking at this, it can be said that books like this is necessary to publish of freeing the mind of Singaporean people, which is only just the starting. This was the first book that includes the account of history of Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s together (Limqueco, 2016). By looking at this book, it can be said that the author exposes the facts and figures about the history and it also provides tactics and strategies to the politicians and activists.

This volume wants to state that it is co-authored by Huang Jianli and Hong Lysa. It is other addition to the sequence of editions, which have developed over the months or thus, as an important trend in the Singapore history alternative. This new and modern trend mainly focuses on making the case of revolutionist and alternative narrative as a security to set discourse and national narrative. It answers different questions, like;

It emphasizes on the different aspects of Singapore history, such as; historiographical analysis of formulation of story of Singapore, forgotten history and the opting method used by the talking. From this volume, it will be appeared that other groups played fairly unimportant roles in the post-war enquiry (Lysa, & Huang, 2008). This book is the success story sponsored by state that states how the country has developed from the poor country to the international economically successful country in less than 3 generations.

Influences and Inspirations of Hong Lysa

Therefore, it is very significant to study this book for understanding the literature, which includes those that make efforts to revisionist assessment of different ethnic histories of de-colonization of Singapore. The Scripting of a National History includes total 12 chapters, from which most of them were published between the year 1998 and year 2007. The book is divided into three parts; first part is Scripture, part two Chinese issue of Singapore. In the conclusion part, Hong consists of a brief discussion about the reception of history via instances of student thinking and learning about the country’s history through evaluations of Singapore story and National Education (Lysa, & Huang, 2008). Moreover, this book is very useful to assist in understanding how Lee Kuan Yew and team introduced new approaches and policies and executed them to falsify this new country in South East Asia.

Operation coldstore was one of the most contentious events in the history of postcolonial Singapore. Despite the efforts by the state to peaceful ex-detainees, by giving them warning that they will not be allowed to restate the state’s official version of country’s history. The scholars in this book or volume have done this. They have put on their viewpoints of events. Under this, the autobiographical component in the narrative carries to the life what the people went through as political actors from left-side, who had given the response to the call of anti-colonialism and the threat of building a new community (Kai, Fang, & Lysa, 2013). In this context, Hong Lysa has stated that operation coldstore was essential for the national safety and security that is at the heart of the PAP myth.

The authors in the books have attempted to undermine and question the national narrative or the story of Singapore, by penetrating the historiographical methods of the narrative state, that data and figures, which have been left, and the characteristics and types of these omissions. This paper also indicates the inherent stabilities, personified in the past figures and data, key events and how these nations to be oppressed by the political leaders of Singapore to bring something relevance of the history to the present. By considering both, the author offers a strong argument and simple account of the prospective state of the country narrative up to its present (Montesano, 2013). Specifically, the scholars make an argument that it is possible to distinguish how the country narrative has been decided to a large level by the stronger perspective of Lee Kuan Yew. His views and experiences with the Chinese society built the country narrative, which has gone ahead to dominate the social memory of existing Singaporeans. Under this process, places and individuals are chosen, designated and convened about the historical importance to strengthen the narrative currency, which has been established.

If the approach of scripting offered a principal alternative that is omitted part of history of Singapore, operation coldstore offers a particular account of any event, which has been elapsed in the history of country. In the year 1963, more than 100 candidates of political opposition were frightened very much and thrown in the confinement directly without any trial process as they opposed the British PAP merger and acquisition with Malaya (Naughton, 2015). These political activists were named as communists but it actual they were not the communists. Although they might be proud nationalists in Singapore, which were anti-colonialists, which only work opposite to a UK Sponsored merger. There are some of these detainees, who were the compatriots of LKY and they were searching for the members and candidates of the PAP party like Poh Soo Kai and Lim Chin Siong. ISA is used today also and it is a principle for the national safety and security in the state’s people eyes (Ngoi, 2015).

In the field of History, the efforts and work of Hong Lysa have made various improvements and developments. The scholar has focused on the country and students while publishing her books. In one of her books, Hong included different things related to student learning and teaching about the Singapore history. Through this, the scholar notices that students are very important of the county’s history that they learn in the schools since this history refuses space for optional versions (Rist, 2014). The books and other writings of Dr. Hong Lysa assisted the people in understanding about the history of Singapore and other aspects. It assisted the political groups in enhancing the situations in the communities and society. The succinct account of work of Hong about the political economists will be significant value to the scholars, whether they are Thai specialists or not. It is considerable for all, who want to gain the knowledge about the history and other critiques, which may impact the growth of country in the coming future. These books of the scholar states that Singapore today is the outcome of what Hong Lysa did to the historical and political approaches and methods in the previous years (Poh, Chen, & Hong, 2013). The publication of these books is very important for the people in the country as it assists them in understanding different aspects, like; their human rights, heritage, culture and other essential things.


Dr. Hong Lysa is working as a Senior Visiting Fellow in the History Division of Singapore. In Southeast Asian region, she is guiding the students with her knowledge and experiences. From the above analysis, it can be concluded that the life and work of Hong Lysa affected the society, community and all over the country, i.e. Singapore. As a popular historian, Hong has served the students with her knowledge and made them familiar about the history of Singapore. The above essay is prepared on the basis of given presentation. The essay includes different aspects related to Hong Lysa’s life. It includes the biography about this historian. Hong is a popular academic historian, who has worked in National University of Singapore. Then, he started to work independently as writer and historian. There are so many books and writings, which are authored by Hong. The discussion includes some of the books of Hongs, like; living in a time of deception (2016), The 1963 Operation Coldstore in Singapore: Commemorating 50 Years (2013), The May 13 Generation: The Chinese Middle Schools Student Movement and Singapore Politics in the 1950s (2011) and The Scripting of a National History: Singapore and its Pasts (2008). A detailed description is given about two books only, which evaluates the skills and capabilities of Hong as an effective historian in Singapore. It includes some people, who inspired Hong to become a better historian. Most of these people are from Thai culture. It is very important to gain the knowledge about the history of your country as it can assist in learning and other communication proces


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