NL Prominent Speaker Series: Shashi Jayakumar

The National Library regularly host renowned speakers from the arts, heritage, technology and social sciences sectors to share with the wider community and to exchange ideas. Organised by the National Library, this event was held on 21 September 2016. This guide accompanied the talk given by Dr Shashi Jayakumar on the topic “State, Society and National Security: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century”.



The speaker for the topic is Dr Shashi Jayakumar.

Dr Shashi Jayakumar is Head of the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS), a think tank at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. His research interests are in extremism, social resilience and homeland defence.

Dr Jayakumar was educated at Oxford University where he studied History (BA 1997, PhD, 2001). He has been published in various peer-reviewed journals and edited several works on topics relating to medieval history, the focus of his doctorate. He has been a member of the Singapore Administrative Service since 2002. During this time, he was posted to various Ministries, including the Ministries of Defence; Manpower; Information and the Arts; and Community Development, Youth and Sports. From August 2011 to July 2014 he was a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.


These resources are drawn from the collections of the National Library.


Articles by Dr Shashi Jayakumar


  • Jayakumar, S. (ed.). (2016). State, society and national security: challenges and opportunities in the 21st century. Singapore: World Scientific.
    Request from PublicationSG.
    For their 10th anniversary, the S. Rajaratnam School for International Studies Centre of Excellence for National Security produced a publication featuring national security articles by 16 prominent researchers and practitioners from around the world. The articles discuss national security and community resilience with special sections on radicalisation and cybersecurity.


  • Jayakumar, S. and Sagar, R. (eds.). (2014). The big ideas of Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore: Straits Times Press.
    Call Number: RSING 320.95957 BIG
    This volume features accounts of Lee Kuan Yew by those who had experienced working with him. The publication was born out of a conference held in honour of Lee’s 90th birthday in 2013. Each of the 11 contributors discusses different aspects of Lee: from generic observations by S R Nathan and Heng Swee Keat to analytical pieces such as Chan Sek Keong’s dissection about the rule of law and Chan Heng Chee’s observations of Lee’s diplomacy.


  • Jayakumar, S. (2016, June 6). Morality and the future of robots. The Straits Times.
    Available from Factiva.
    In this opinion piece for The Straits Times, Dr Jayakumar looks at the growing lethal capabilities of robots and asks us to consider if they should have limitations built into them.


  • Jayakumar, S. (2016, April 2). The curious case of Wang Yuandongyi. The Straits Times.
    Available from Factiva.
    This article analyses the case of Singapore citizen Wang Yuandongyi who was detained for attempting to travel to Syria to fight with the Kurds against IS. Here, Dr Jayakumar argues that all who get involved in foreign conflicts should receive the same treatment regardless of which side they are fighting for.


  • Jayakumar, S. (2016, February 15). What S’poreans should do as security threats evolve. Today.
    Available from Factiva.
    Dr Jayakumar takes a look at Singapore’s Total Defence and examines how citizens can get involved to make Singapore society even more resilient.


  • Jayakumar, S. (2015, October 6). Islamic State ‘sleeper cells’ not the real fear around refugee exodus. Today.
    Available from Factiva.
    Dr Jayakumar proposes that the real danger in Europe is not IS agents sneaking in among the refugees to commit acts of terror, but rather a lack of integration that threatens to radicalise refugees. He calls for the further development of programmes to integrate refugees into their social environments. An earlier version, ‘What lies ahead for IS caliphate?’, appeared in Malaysia’s New Straits Times on 6 July 2015.


  • Jayakumar, S. (2015, June 27). The year of the caliphate and what is to come. The Straits Times.
    Available from Factiva.
    Dr Jayakumar examines the spread of IS ideology and radicalisation and explores how to effectively counter it.


  • Jayakumar, S. (2014, November 5). ‘Reverse jihad’: The other foreign fighters. The Straits Times.
    Available from Factiva.
    Looking at the phenomena of people joining anti-IS forces to fight the Islamic State, Dr Jayakumar asks who they are and why are they taking up arms. Also published in Thailand’s The Nation the same day.


Selected Popular Works on Singapore’s National Security


  • Nadarajan, B. (2012). Close watch: A nation’s resolve to secure Singapore. Singapore: National Security Coordination Secretariat.
    Call Number: RSING 355.03305957 BEN
    Close Watch examines the terror threats faced by Singapore and the efforts to counter them. It delves into Singapore’s whole-of-nation approach by exploring government efforts as well as contributions by private and religious organisations and members of the public, all working together to keep Singapore safe.


  • Latif, A. I. (2011). Hearts of resilience: Singapore’s Community Engagement Programme. Singapore: Ministry of Home Affairs.
    Call Number: RSING 363.348095957 ASA
    Started in 2006, the objective of the Community Engagement Programme (CEP) was to build a resilient community network to enable Singapore society to recover quickly after disasters. The publication describes the CEP programmes and people’s experiences with them.


Singapore’s National Security


  • Desker, B. and Ang, C. G. (eds.). (2016).  Perspectives on the security of Singapore: The first 50 years. Singapore: World Scientific & Imperial College Press.
    Call Number: RSING 355.03305957 PER
    Aside from Dr Jayakumar’s edited volume, commercial publisher World Scientific also produced a volume on Singapore’s national security as part of its ‘Singapore’s 50 Years of Nation-Building’ series. 18 members of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies were invited to weigh in on Singapore’s security challenges in the past half-century and the challenges that lie ahead.


  • Chin, Y., and Vasu, N. (2007 & 2012). The ties that bind & blind: A report on inter-racial and inter-religious relations in Singapore. Singapore: Centre of Excellence for National Security,
    S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.
    Call Number: RSING 305.8095957 CHI
    These two surveys conducted five years apart look at Singaporean attitudes towards inter-ethnic and interreligious interactions to get a sense of the inclusiveness of the various ethnicities and religions. The 2007 survey had 1,824 respondents while the second had 2,111.


  • Vasu, N. (ed.). (2007). Social resilience in Singapore: Reflections from the London bombings. Singapore: Select Publishing.
    Call Number: RSING 305.80095957 SOC
    Published after the 2007 London Underground bombings, six contributors take a look at the various aspects of societal resilience and examine the state of Singapore’s societal resilience and its mechanisms.


RSIS Working Papers & Conference Reports

A significant portion of the publication output of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies is in the form of working papers. They give a sense of the research being conducted and the ideas being explored by the fellows of the school. Here is a sampling of papers with more relevance to Dr Jayakumar’s talk:


  • Omer, A. S. (2014). The cyber extremism orbital pathways model. Singapore: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.
    Call Number: RSING 303.625 OME
    An analyst specialising in extremist ideologies in cyberspace, Dr Omar Ali Saifudeen details a model of looking at the online interactions that pull people towards extremist ideologies and by extension, how to design programmes to neutralise them.




  • Omand, D. (2012). Securing the state: National security in contemporary times. Singapore: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.
    Call Number: RSING 327.12 OMA
    This is the published transcript of a speech by Sir David Omand, former director of the United Kingdom’s signals intelligence agency, GCHQ, and former permanent secretary of the Home Office. He shares the UK’s intelligence strategy and how to assess intelligence.


  • Ramakrishna, K. (2010). “Muscular” versus “liberal” secularism and the religious fundamentalist challenge in Singapore. Singapore: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.
    Call Number: RSING 322.1095957 RAM
    Dr Ramakrishna examines the fundamentalist incidents from the AWARE takeover to the tudung issue in light of what he has identified as the State’s ‘muscular secularism’ approach. He also examines the non-interventionist ‘liberal secularism’ alternative.


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Written by Mervin Teo