Sunday, September 10, 2023

Special vehicle for mobile satcom at RSAF Paya Lebar Airbase

 



Interesting vehicle with what appears to be a satellite dish on its cabin, seen at the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Open House at Paya Lebar Airbase.

This looks like a 2.4m C or Ku-band antenna for transmitting and receiving voice, video or data to and from a communications satellite. The satellite cabin and generator (blue box at the rear) are mounted on a Hino truck. I guess this is quite a capable antenna. It could pack the capability equivalent to a TV broadcasting studio on that truck.

Nothing says "network centric" better than seeing one of these vehicles. I have so many questions.... LOL

I guess I am not the only one who has a thing for specialised vehicles?

Today is the last day of the RSAF Open House, held to mark the air force's 55th anniversary! Free entry. For more: https://www.rsaf55oh.sg/

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Republic of Singapore Air Force RSAF anti-drone radars and jammers at Paya Lebar Airbase


The 1950s era airport buildings from the former Singapore International Airport at Paya Lebar appear to have been updated to deal with 21st century situations involving Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).

Rooftop anti-drone sensors seem to have been installed on buildings now used by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) at Paya Lebar Airbase. These sensors are believed to serve as anti-drone radars (sensor closest to the right corner), RF jammer (flat face array with vertical antenna), and a drone detection camera at the left corner. All sensors offer all-around coverage, by day and by night.

The anti-drone radar looks similar to RAFAEL's Drone Dome counter-UAS system, which was previously showcased in a 2020 Facebook post by then Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung. The Drone Dome system in that Facebook update was apparently installed at Changi Airport.

The RSAF Open House, held to mark the Singapore air force's 55th anniversary, is open to the public from today and tomorrow at PLAB. Entry is free. For more: https://www.rsaf55oh.sg/

Friday, September 8, 2023

Republic of Singapore Air Force RSAF reveals Python 5 AAM for first time


Always read the info boards of Singapore Armed Forces assets! Spot anything new?

RSAF 55 Open House
Paya Lebar Air Base
Saturday 9 Sep to Sunday 10 Sep 2023
9am to 6pm (The event is Free)

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

RSAF Open House 2023: Four tips to enjoy the Singapore air force's 55th anniversary show

The last time Paya Lebar Air Base welcomed the public was in 2016. Large crowds attended the Air Force Open House that year. This weekend's event at Paya Lebar Air Base, held to mark the Republic of Singapore Air Force's 55th anniversary, is expected to be a major crowd-puller.

RSAF 55 Open House
Paya Lebar Air Base
Saturday 9 Sep to Sunday 10 Sep 2023
9am to 6pm (The event is Free)

TIP 1
Get your queue number early
Register on the RSAF Open House website, https://www.rsaf55oh.sg/, to get in line to sit in the cockpits of various RSAF fighter aircraft.

The RSAF 55 Open House Capability Display area. Shutter bugs should note there is no spectator stand, so you may want to position yourself close to the safety barricade before the crowd builds up. Bring ear plugs - you'll need them.

TIP 2
Plan your journey so you can catch the flying display. If you're a shutter bug (no, not THAT Shutter), go early as there is no spectator stand this year. You may want to place yourself near the barricade in front of the parked F-15SG aircraft to view the display. Bring ear plugs!

Capability Display (i.e. flying display) show times:
Held twice a day. Among the highlights: You'll see two F-15SG Strike Eagles start up and takeoff, a H.225M helicopter deploy a section of seven heliborne infantry from 3 Guards, and an Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport play the role of an "aircraft in distress".

Saturday 
Morning 10:30am to 11:45am
Afternoon 3pm to 4pm
Sunday
Morning 10:30am to 11:30am
Afternoon 3pm to 4pm

TIP 3
Plan your entry and exit. Note that there is NO provision for you to park at the event. So it's a choice of shuttle bus, public transport, taxi/private hire vehicle, or walking in. 

Shuttle Bus locations:
18 Tai Seng S539775
Circle Line Tai Seng CC11, Exit C
1st bus: 8am
Last bus: 4:30pm

Hougang Bus Park S538833
North East Line Hougang NE14, Exit A
1st bus: 8am
Last bus: 4:30pm

By bus:
Bus 90: Toa Payoh Bus Interchange
Bus 94: Eunos Bus Interchange

TIP 4 - What's new?
The H.225M helicopter and CH-47F Chinook, the latest model of the heavy-lift helicopter, and the MRTT will go on display for the first time. This unmanned ground vehicle under trial as an airbase patrol asset is something I've not seen before. There's also a weapon loading thingy near the F-15SGs which I think is being shown for the first time.


Do note that places for aircraft joyrides have already been allocated by online balloting. 


Random thoughts on RSAF55 Open House
One observation from my walkabout at Paya Lebar Air Base yesterday, where the RSAF will stage the Air Force Open House this weekend, was the large number of personnel who are first-timers to hosting such an event.

As PLAB last held an open house seven years ago, it's perhaps no surprise that many in the tribe are new to this form of public engagement. Their learning curve will be steep.

Come Saturday, that first contact with a real crowd as the seemingly endless flood of people fill queue lines, testing the patience of RSAF duty personnel and planning assumptions of event logistics, can be an eye-opener. So here are some points they may want to ponder:

* Unlike previous AFOH, there is no grandstand at show centre. This means that apart from the first few ranks, people behind may find it difficult seeing the fighter aircraft scramble and the mock attack by the heliborne Guardsmen. Some will push their way through with bulky camera equipment. There will be children and elderly. How is your crowd management plan?

* The roadside and grass verge along Airport Road can become car magnets. At previous open houses, some drivers did try their luck by parking there, thus posing a safety hazard to other road users. Errant motorists must be chased off early. Once the few pull their parking brake, more will inevitably follow. That "bridgehead" cannot be allowed to form. Good news is that the Traffic Police HQ is just down the road. Would be good to consider enlisting their support for the weekend crowd surge. In extreme situations, manual control of traffic lights may be necessary to relieve traffic congestion.

* Shuttle bus queues can be tricky, as they build up quickly. It can be hard for new arrivals to find the end of the line. Mark this prominently. Have a generous overflow area for the queue - what's the wet wx plan? And watch for the odd queue jumpers. Past open house events, particularly one at Changi Naval Base which attracted some 100,000 visitors over a weekend decades ago, made the news for the wrong reasons.

* Is there scope to include the CAAS fire engine at this late juncture? Would be nice to see one on show, perhaps alongside some FDS vehicles. Children love to get close to such vehicles. I bet some visitors will even find a display of different aircraft tugs quite interesting and Instagram-worthy. 

Friday, September 1, 2023

I once asked to meet Dr Goh Keng Swee, Singapore's 1st defence minister, and he told me...


Thanks to my job as a journalist early in my career, I have met or seen in real life every Singaporean who served as defence minister (DM), except Mr Howe Yoon Chong.

The DM whom I wanted to meet for a long time was Dr Goh Keng Swee, one of the Old Guard minsters who helped shape the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in its embryonic years.

I met Dr Goh in 1996. My mother, who thought she saw Dr Goh walking in a park near our home, told me about her chance encounter during one of her strolls. She also knew which house the old gentleman lived in. 

Curiosity aroused, I dropped a handwritten note into the letter box of the house where "Dr Goh" was thought to live. I asked if the former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior and Defence lived there and, summoning some pluck, expressed my wish to see him if that was indeed his residence.


I got a reply from Mrs Goh Keng Swee, who invited me over. The Gohs were kind and gracious to allow me into their home - which minister today would entertain such social calls from random strangers?

That meeting with Dr Goh was memorable, and for many good reasons. I have never forgotten that encounter or his parting words that advised how I should view the SAF. [After my meeting with Dr Goh, I had a much longer conversation with Mrs Goh. Many interesting points were shared, which I won't make public here as it was a private conversation.]

In my opinion, Dr Goh was the best DM Singapore ever had.

My views of those who followed were based on impressions of how they explained or dealt with issues off-script. Speeches, as many of you would know, are mostly written by staff officers. And whether a speech has impact or not depends to a large degree on the competence of the speech writer. So I tend to discount scripted speaking engagements. I also rely on what's shared by individuals who worked with the ministers. Such interactions reveal facets of character and decision making that only the inner circle would know. All of them have quirks - who amongst us doesn't?

Rear Admiral Teo Chee Hean's leadership as the SAF made its journey as a Third Generation (3G) fighting force was impressive. But as he came from the navy, his familiarity with military matters was a given. He made good use of that head start.

My sense is that after Dr Goh, Singapore's longest serving DM is the next most impressive. Dr Ng Eng Hen has made a successful transition from medicine to defence. He helmed MINDEF through some interesting phases of the SAF's 3G journey. Looking back, it is my view that Dr Ng's training as a cancer surgeon gave him the innate ability for clinical (no pun) analysis of complex issues, including the ability to assimilate bad news and make the most out of difficult situations. It is not easy telling a patient who has Stage 4 cancer about the prognosis and way ahead. It can be painful seeing cancer metastasize and claim a promising life. But this is what oncologists go through. Coming from a family where my late father, my mum and younger sister all were stricken with the Big C at some point in their lives, I know the emotional upheavals that a cancer diagnosis inevitably brings.

If you had to imagine a fictional character who made an ideal DM, what would that person be like? I have a good idea what my fictional DM would be like, and what he would do when ballistic missiles start falling.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Dr Tim Huxley read Pukul Habis and had this to say...


Kind words for Pukul Habis, my first fictional war story, from Dr Tim Huxley, for which I am deeply appreciative. Singapore Armed Forces watchers would know Dr Huxley for his book, Defending the Lion City: The Armed Forces of Singapore, which set the benchmark for books on the Singapore Armed Forces. He is one of the leading lights in Asia-Pacific security. His discussion of the Mersing Line in the 1991 essay, Singapore and Malaysia: A Precarious Balance, kickstarted my own journey of discovery.

Dr Huxley told me a few months ago he was reviewing the book for an academic journal. Am delighted, humbled and hugely relieved to read Dr Huxley's review in Contemporary Southeast Asia Volume 45 Number 2, just released by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.





If you are in Malaysia, get the book from Books Kinokuniya's store at Suria KLCC. Kino will also mail it to any location in Malaysia. Please click here for details.

Books Kinokuniya Singapore has stocked Pukul Habis (ISBN 9789811861499). Please visit its main store in Ngee Ann City or Bugis Junction, or check the Kinokuniya online store here.

For readers elsewhere, please check the Amazon sites that serve your location. "Look Inside" function on some sites shows sample pages.

Singapore: https://bit.ly/3XJzInH

Australia: https://amzn.to/3ViaX0i

United Kingdom: https://amzn.to/3EZ6clA Look Inside

USA: https://amzn.to/3Ui3Eo1 Look Inside. When ordering from Singapore, please click on the "Shipping to Singapore?" button. Ignore the "Temporarily out of stock" notice on the Amazon.com page.

Related posts:
Writing about Malay royalty in Pukul Habis. Click here
Special video on the 35th Battalion, Singapore Combat Engineers. Click here 
First book signing at Kino Singapore. Click here
Why Pukul Habis was not written from a Singaporean perspective. Click here
Pukul Habis: Author's Note. Click here
Pukul Habis: Full text of Prologue. Click here
Why does the English language novel, Pukul Habis, have a Malay title? Click here

Saturday, August 12, 2023

National Day Parade (NDP) not always like clockwork

 


By now, many of you would have seen the glitch during the National Day Parade 2023 as Singapore President Halimah Yacob prepared to review the Guard-of-Honour. 

Here's my commentary on NDP (Straits Times 28 August 2008). Nothing to add and the sense that "No plan survives first contact" should be familiar to readers who finished the war story, Pukul Habis, and reflected on its deeper messages.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Indian PSLVC56 rocket launches yet another Singaporean radar satellite



The satellite imagery business must be doing quite well. A second Singaporean earth observation satellite, DS-SAR, went into orbit this morning aboard an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) rocket, PSLV-C56.

Indian media reported that PSLV-C56 lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, near Chennai, with six other satellites at 6:31 a.m local time this morning.

“PSLV-C56 carrying seven satellites including the primary satellite DS-SAR and six co-passengers has been successfully placed in the right orbit. This is a PSLV mission for New Space India Limited (NSIL) and I want to congratulate the customers sponsored by the Government of Singapore for having this mission onboard PSLV and their continued faith in our launch vehicle for deploying their spacecraft,” ISRO Chairman S. Somnath said after the successful launch of the mission.

DS-SAR joins another SAR bird, TeLEOS-2, which was launched in April also by an ISRO launch vehicle. Expect this constellation to grow in future.

Satellite imagery is featured in the book #pukulhabis, along with other reconnaissance means. The scenarios of counter satellite surveillance tactics practised by Malaysian forces in the fictional war story were inspired by real SATRAN counter surveillance TTP from Malaysia and other countries.

Pukul Habis: Available from Books Kinokuniya in Malaysia and Singapore, and also from Amazon.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Pukul Habis restocked at Books Kinokuniya Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


A Malaysian reader (or fan? ๐Ÿ˜„) sent me this image of Pukul Habis after he got it yesterday from Books Kinokuniya Malaysia's store at Suria KLCC.

Am delighted with the warm responses from readers in Malaysia and Singapore, despite the somewhat touchy subject of a fictional war involving Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (Malaysian Armed Forces) and the Singapore Armed Forces.

Am grateful to readers from Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, France, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America who got in touch to share their views on the story.

If you're in Malaysia, get the book from Kino's store at Suria KLCC. Kino will also mail it to any location in Malaysia. Please click here for details.

Books Kinokuniya Singapore has stocked Pukul Habis (ISBN 9789811861499). This book has been a Kino Singapore bestseller for many months since its launch, and has topped its weekly top 10 in fiction several times. Please visit its main store in Ngee Ann City or Bugis Junction, or check the Kinokuniya online store here.

For readers elsewhere, please check the Amazon sites that serve your location. "Look Inside" function on some sites shows sample pages.

Singapore: https://bit.ly/3XJzInH

Australia: https://amzn.to/3ViaX0i

United Kingdom: https://amzn.to/3EZ6clA Look Inside

USA: https://amzn.to/3Ui3Eo1 Look Inside. When ordering from Singapore, please click on the "Shipping to Singapore?" button. Ignore the "Temporarily out of stock" notice on the Amazon.com page.

Related posts:
Writing about Malay royalty in Pukul Habis. Click here
Special video on the 35th Battalion, Singapore Combat Engineers. Click here 
First book signing at Kino Singapore. Click here
Why Pukul Habis was not written from a Singaporean perspective. Click here
Pukul Habis: Author's Note. Click here
Pukul Habis: Full text of Prologue. Click here
Why does the English language novel, Pukul Habis, have a Malay title? Click here

Thursday, July 27, 2023

ST Engineering: My biggest wish for ST Engineering is...


Some 24 years ago, an armoured vehicle designed and built in Singapore was the only Asian representative in a hard-fought United States Army evaluation for an air-transportable, well-protected yet lethal armoured fighting vehicle (AFV).

The US Army's requirements were tough to meet because excelling in one category (say air mobility) could come at the expense of another (e.g. heavy armour protection) or firepower (since turrets or weapon stations are heavy too, or take up space for troops).

The field of 36 contestants from 11 countries who entered the US Army's search for an Interim Armored Vehicle (IAV) in Nov/Dec 1999 shrank to four contenders a year later.

Among the four shortlisted platforms, Singapore's Bionix, designed and built by ST Engineering at Portsdown Road, was the only design that did not come from defence companies from America or Europe. It was a major achievement for ST Engineering, which spearheaded the bid.

I remember it well, because I covered the evaluation as a Business Times reporter. I spoke to ST Engg's management and engineers involved with the ICV project frequently and could sense their excitement and awareness that this was a major milestone in Singapore's AFV development. Analysts who covered the stock also recognised the significance of ST Engg making inroads in the American AFV market. If successful, it could enhance shareholder value immensely.

At the time, the South Koreans were nowhere in sight.

In November 2000, the US Army named its winner: the wheeled LAV III Stryker from General Motors-General Dynamics Land Systems. The Stryker traces its genesis to the Piranha from a small Swiss company, Mowag, whose designers dared to challenge the ascendancy of the then-powerful and influential US defence industry, which had amassed experience supplying AFVs to the US Army since WW2.



Those 20+ years since the ICV bidding have flown by in a blink of an eye. {I kept ST Engineering's Bionix press releases and ads, which you see here)

Today, we see South Korea's defence industry winning contracts in markets that Asian companies found tough penetrating. Poland has ordered tanks and self-propelled guns from South Korea. And just yesterday, South Korean conglomerate Hanwha, became the first Asian company to win an Australian Army contract for AFVs. Hanwha's Redback design beat Rheinmetall's Lynx from Germany for a massive contract worth billions of dollars. Also noteworthy: South Korea is co-developing a fighter plane with Indonesia. Korean warship designs have also earned international stature.

At its current tempo, South Korea's ambitious defence industry looks set to make its mark on the world's defence market. As more international orders are won, the South Koreans will gain critical mass that would in turn generate global awareness, respect and recognition that they are a new force to be reckoned with.

So, what happened to ST Engg's early and promising run in overseas markets like the US?

One would hope ST Engg never loses its innovative streak that saw it become a first Asian player in the US - way ahead of its Asian peers at the turn of the century. But that was 24 years ago. And the cut-throat environment of the defence industry isn't given to sentimentality or philosophical musings.


There are bright spots: 100 Bronco all-terrain tracked carriers served the British Army with distinction as "Warthogs" after these tracked vehicles were purchased to serve in Afghanistan under an urgent operational requirement. This contract is proof that platforms designed for the Singapore Armed Forces' specific operational requirements can be adapted for overseas customers who value properties like platform survivability, superior mobility and ease of maintenance plus low lifecycle costs.

The next quarter century will flash by quickly. To stay relevant to its shareholders and major client(s), ST Engg needs to power up, or risk being left to eat the dust of faster moving rivals who made the leap from unknowns to major players on the world's defence market.

I am confident ST Engg can do better. It has done much to enhance Singapore Army war machines - way more than what is reported from open literature. Land platforms like Bionix, Bronco, Terrex and Hunter have all been lauded at Singapore's annual Defence Technology Prize (our highest award for excellence in defence engineering). What it needs is to nail that big, elusive international win with one of its award-winning platforms. That's my biggest wish for the company. Go for it!

Note: The author does not own any ST Engg shares.

Saturday, July 8, 2023

First Republic of Singapore Navy Type 218SG submarine arrives in Singapore waters aboard Rolldock Storm





More images of Rolldock Storm’s transit through the Singapore Strait this morning, carrying the Singapore navy’s Type 218SG Invincible-class submarine to home waters for the first time. The submarine, Impeccable, arrived here from Germany after slightly more than a month at sea. 

RSS Unity, a Littoral Mission Vessel, escorted the heavy-lift ship. Rolldock Storm’s previous cargo, the submarine, Impeccable, was not visible to onlookers. 

The Singapore Armed Forces appears to have implemented extensive protective security measures to screen the new submarine. Steel modules and containers were used to cover the hull and conning tower of the 70-metre long submarine.



Senang Diri believes these measures are unprecedented for a RSN submarine repatriation. They were not done some 20 years ago when the author wrote about the repatriation of the RSN’s last two Challenger-class boats.


In addition, the submarine transporter and her Singapore navy escort were noted to have deviated from the Eastbound lane of the Singapore Strait traffic separation scheme. This lane lies at the southern end of the strait. 

H/T Timothy Liu for braving the hot weather this morning while on coast watch. The results, as you can tell, are worth the effort. 

And here are images of Rolldock Storm in Kiel, Germany,  in May this year as the ship was prepared for her voyage to Singapore. 









Republic of Singapore Navy’s newest submarine arrives in Singapore


The Republic of Singapore Navy’s latest submarine, Impeccable, arrived in Singapore this morning (8 July 2023). 

The German-built Type 218SG submarine was transported to Singapore aboard a heavy-lift vessel, Rolldock Storm

Impeccable is the second of the RSN’s four Invincible-class submarines. Impeccable was launched on 13 December 2022 with Illustrious in Kiel, Germany, by Madam Ho Ching, wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. 


To prepare for her voyage to Singapore, Impeccable was shielded from view by an assortment of metal containers placed over Rolldock Storm’s cargo deck. These containers covered the submarine’s deck and blocked off most of her conning tower, which would otherwise have been visible above the transport vessel’s hull. 

This is a developing story. More updates to follow. 

Friday, July 7, 2023

Flashback: Delivery of Republic of Singapore Navy submarines


Word that the Singapore navy’s latest submarine, Impeccable, is due to arrive this weekend triggered memories of this article I wrote in January 2004 on a similar delivery. 

The Straits Times story, published on 26 Jan 2004, reported that three Sjoormen-class submarines were en route from Sweden to Singapore. Noteworthy is the presence of an additional boat - the Republic of Singapore Navy had reportedly bought just four secondhand boats from the Royal Swedish Navy. Two were already in Singapore.

I recall that when I asked the Singapore Ministry of Defence about the fifth submarine, it described it as “a reserve vessel”. 

That Jan 2004 pix predated Instagram, Facebook and all of today’s conveniences that the ship spotting community enjoys. So I was quite happy to see it nearly 20 years ago. 

Quite looking forward to updates on Rolldock Storm as she approaches Singapore with Impeccable. I bet it won’t take long before ship spotters in Singapore get pictures of this special delivery. [You know what to do]

P.S. If you like subs, do take a look at Pukul Habis. It’s a fictional story (in English!) on war in Malaysia and Singapore. Here’s a preview on KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Malaysian navy sub that is featured in the story. Click here


Thursday, July 6, 2023

Singapore navy Type 218SG submarine, Impeccable, expected to arrive this weekend


Rolldock Storm, the transport ship carrying a Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) submarine, could arrive in Singapore waters as soon as this weekend. 

Rolldock Storm’s whereabouts, which had not been updated on ship tracking platforms for weeks, appear to have gone online again this afternoon. 

Her position was indicated at the northern entrance to the Strait of Malacca. At her present course and speed, she could reach the Singapore Strait in coming days. 

The transport vessel has a deck which can be weighed down with water ballast to allow oversized cargo to float into her “dock”. Once secured in position, water is pumped out and the ship will gain more freeboard, with the deck cargo high and dry after the now-lightened ship’s waterline is raised. 

Impeccable is the RSN’s second Type 218SG submarine. The first boat, Invincible, which has had more time to install, check out, integrate and test all her onboard systems, is expected to remain in Germany to train future Type 218SG crew. 

Friday, June 30, 2023

Update on Pukul Habis at Books Kinokuniya

 

Great to see Pukul Habis top the fiction bestseller list yet again at Kinokuniya, Singapore's biggest bookstore, in the lead-up to Singapore Armed Forces Day on 1 July. And this title is sold out in Kino Malaysia! (PH has topped Kino Singapore's list several times since it was stocked in March 2023. Malaysian readers: You can put your name on the Kino KLCC waiting list).

I didn't ask for or expect this video from Kenny Chan, ex-Singapore MFA diplomat, ex-Senior Director, Kinokuniya, Asia Pacific Publishing and book industry veteran. Wonky subtitles aside (!), I love Kenny's take on a book that has become a breakout bestseller. Am delighted to see it alongside titles from seasoned writers backed by established publishing houses.

Thank you dear readers, fans ๐Ÿ™‚and my informal network of advisors out there who helped Pukul Habis navigate new and potentially touchy areas. Your expert advice means a lot to me. The book's success is your's too. I am deeply appreciative to you all.

Related posts:
Writing about Malay royalty in Pukul Habis. Click here
Special video on the 35th Battalion, Singapore Combat Engineers. Click here 
First book signing at Kino Singapore. Click here
Why Pukul Habis was not written from a Singaporean perspective. Click here
Pukul Habis: Author's Note. Click here
Pukul Habis: Full text of Prologue. Click here
Why does the English language novel, Pukul Habis, have a Malay title? Click here

Please note:
Books Kinokuniya in Singapore has stocked Pukul Habis (ISBN 9789811861499). Please visit its main store in Ngee Ann City or Bugis Junction, or check the Kinokuniya online store here. The title is also available from Kinokuniya Malaysia. Please enquire with the KLCC store. First few shipments sold out quickly - but you can leave you name with Kino Malaysia KLCC's waiting list. Thanks much!

For readers elsewhere, please check the Amazon sites that serve your location. "Look Inside" function on some sites shows sample pages.

Singapore: https://bit.ly/3XJzInH

Australia: https://amzn.to/3ViaX0i

United Kingdom: https://amzn.to/3EZ6clA Look Inside

USA: https://amzn.to/3Ui3Eo1 Look Inside. When ordering from Singapore, please click on the "Shipping to Singapore?" button. Ignore the "Temporarily out of stock" notice on the Amazon.com page.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Pukul Habis backstory: Challenges in writing about Malay royalty


Chapter 17, titled “The Sultan”, was a challenging yet rewarding chapter to write for Pukul Habis. I learned so much about Johor royalty and their palaces. I felt I had to include Johor royalty for the war story to be complete and more realistic.

The book by Imperial Japanese Army Colonel Tsuji on the conquest of Singapore was an early source of inspiration. Tsuji wrote about Istana Hijau (Green Palace) and when I looked it up, I really wanted to weave this picturesque and historical palace into the story.



During WW2, Japanese commanders used Istana Hijau as an observation post when they launched their assault on Singapore.

While I knew I wanted to feature the palace, I had never been there. So I searched the internet for more information on the Istana, especially pictures of its interior. To get a better feel of what's inside, I spoke to people who had been there for official visits.

And even after I learned enough to write about the Istana, I faced a major challenge: Malaysian friends advised against dialogue involving HRH the Sultan. To bring readers to the Istana without quoting HRH the Sultan in fictional conversation, I tried a different way to describe the tense talks. Malaysian test readers gave positive feedback. They loved the draft chapter as it accorded respect to Johor royalty, while bringing readers to the heart of the action in the royal court.

Malaysian test readers also suggested I mention Majlis Raja-Raja (Conference of Rulers). And so I did.
Mentioning the Conference of Rulers placed the due consideration from Malay sultans right up there with political decision makers in various imaginary scenarios. These included the request by the Malaysian Army to use rocket artillery against targets on Malaysian soil, and discussions at conflict termination.

Many places in Johor are mentioned. Do visit when you can!

Related posts:
Special video on the 35th Battalion, Singapore Combat Engineers. Click here 
First book signing at Kino Singapore. Click here
Why Pukul Habis was not written from a Singaporean perspective. Click here
Pukul Habis: Author's Note. Click here
Pukul Habis: Full text of Prologue. Click here
Why does the English language novel, Pukul Habis, have a Malay title? Click here

Please note:
Books Kinokuniya in Singapore has stocked Pukul Habis (ISBN 9789811861499). Please visit its main store in Ngee Ann City or Bugis Junction, or check the Kinokuniya online store here. The title is also available from Kinokuniya Malaysia. Please enquire with the KLCC store. First few shipments sold out quickly - but you can leave you name with Kino Malaysia KLCC's waiting list. Thanks much!

For readers elsewhere, please check the Amazon sites that serve your location. "Look Inside" function on some sites shows sample pages.

Singapore: https://bit.ly/3XJzInH

Australia: https://amzn.to/3ViaX0i

United Kingdom: https://amzn.to/3EZ6clA Look Inside

USA: https://amzn.to/3Ui3Eo1 Look Inside. When ordering from Singapore, please click on the "Shipping to Singapore?" button. Ignore the "Temporarily out of stock" notice on the Amazon.com page.