This book by a pioneer generation civil servant is a fascinating and an engaging account of Singapore's spectacular development from a sleepy backwater village to a first world State within a single generation and defying, in the process, all odds against its survival. This story is unique in many ways and starts right at the beginning when Singapore became a self-governing State in 1959, the same year the author entered the civil service. The author's involvement and participation in the detailed planning of pioneering policies, the strategies adopted and their implementation at the ground level by many front line ministries and institutions, in which he has served for more than four decades, have given him a unique hands-on experience and observations derived in working from the inside — in areas ranging from slum clearance to representing the State overseas. The story also details how the cooperation between an honest and visionary leadership and the citizenry created an effective professional, proactive and productive public administration, which excelled in service delivery at home, and enabled the State to punch above its weight globally, overcoming at the same time many political, economic and security challenges, amongst others, and always ever mindful that nothing in the scheme of things can be taken for granted. The success achieved and the many lessons learnt therefrom have universal application and had attracted global interest.
The story is very well illustrated with compelling and illuminating insights and richly complemented by the author's anecdotal observations throughout.