by M Ravi
Over the last decade, M Ravi has been involved in some of the most high profile and politically sensitive constitutional cases in Singapore. He has taken a courageous stand against the mandatory death penalty; argued for the right to free assembly, freedom of expression, the right to byelection, and equal rights for members of the LGBT community. Because of his advocacy for these issues, he has come to be seen as Singapore’s leading human rights lawyer, one of the few willing to battle away on these important issues.
Taking up human rights causes in the Lion City is often perceived by the authorities as an act of disloyalty, and those labelled as disloyal can see their own rights and liberties impinged upon. What are the springs of this commitment and the moral strength that have allowed Ravi to continue on this sometimes perilous path?
To answer this, Ravi takes us back to his roots in one of Singapore’s few multi-racial villages, or kampongs. The lessons he learnt there – about family, cooperation with others and compassion – have infused much of his life and guided him on his path towards the pursuit of justice.
About the Author
M Ravi was born a few years after Singapore achieved full independence and began its journey of self-discovery. The grandson of immigrants from Tamil Nadu (India), Ravi grew up in the twilight of Singapore’s kampong period, with his early years being spent in a mixed-race kampong. His family then moved to one of the first high-rise HDB sub-cities, where he completed his school years and early adulthood.
After fulfilling his National Service duties, Ravi studied at the National University of Singapore, finishing with an Arts degree. He then studied Law at the University of Cardiff in Wales.
He was admitted to the Singapore Bar in the mid-1990’s and over the last decade has been involved as lead lawyer or supporting voice in some of the Lion City’s highest-profile cases. His work in the field of human rights has made him a recognised and respected figure not only within Singapore, but also internationally.
"Kampong Boy provides insights into the the growth of the author as a central figure in anti-death penalty activism in Singapore and in the international struggle for a world without executions. Writing as an individual whose difficult childhood increased his sense of justice and feelings for the suffering of others, his memoir includes moving accounts of several high-profile capital cases. It is a crucial contribution to the history of Singapore."
– Margaret John, Coordinator for Singapore and Malaysia, Amnesty International, Canada
"The book reveals much about the human rights’ lawyer’s rise towards prominence in civil society today... In a way, the book has been an inspiring look into the legal fights for justice. The activism M Ravi and his friends have led have given much hope in the homosexual community, death-row inmates and activists for freedom of speech, for several of his cases have led to landmark decisions and sea changes in the judicial arm of the government..."
– Ng Yi Shu, The Online Citizen
“[M Ravi] writes with candour about his feelings for his parents, the difficulties of growing up in poverty and why all the events in his life have made him the man that he is today... I have enjoyed learning more about Ravi as a person, but I have also gained a very unique insight into Singapore’s politics and judicial system. Whether we approve of Ravi’s personality or Singapore’s laws, I feel that the most compelling message in Kampong Boy is about making the best of what we are given. If it is our choices that define us in life, then the harder the choices we have to make the better our chances for living a fuller life.”
- Paoi Hwang, Editor, Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language & Literature
“Kampong Boy is the journey of a freethinker and empathetic spirit who has made the choice to live by his own terms despite external hurdles... By narrating his professional life as a lawyer, the book also illustrates the battle for more and better understanding and protection of human rights in Singapore and reveals the tremendous legal and political limitations that human rights lawyers and activists still encounter in this highly developed country.”
- Maria-Gabriela Manea, Department of Political Science, University of Freiburg, Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia
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Dimension: 145mm x 210mm