Fr. Guillaume Arotçarena
Singapore: Ethos Books, 2015
Cosmopolitan Singapore -- emblematic of globalised capitalism -- usually calls to mind a number of clichés: orderly, clean and green, a shopping and business paradise, and a model of sound economic management. Tourists, journalists and passing businessmen cast an absent-minded glance at the local society, noting that the food is excellent, e-communication works well and armoured tanks are absent on street corners.
But after 17 years living here, the author shows a different side of Singapore: looking at her from the grassroots. Beyond his personal atypical story, he draws with light strokes of the brush, a picture of a warm and generous people, much less passive than one os often given to think. He also describes the difficulties faced by civil society, and tracks the rapid social evolution in the city-state as it is confronted with major challenges: a nose-diving demography, cramped territory with an infrastructure which cannot be extended indefinitely, and massive immigration which in increasingly resented by the local population.
Most of all, Fr. Arotçarena places on record the work and significance of the Geylang Catholic Centre, which makes this priest in Geylang himself a legend.