Aram: An Intercultural Dialogue

Talks & Conferences


5 Nov, Sun 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM


The Arts House, Chamber
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This session is in multiple languages


Kwok Kian Woon


The ancient Tamil word ‘Aram’ is the theme of this year’s Singapore Writers Festival. Aram is a complex term that engenders reflection on goodness, conscience, and everyday moral conduct. It is a central theme in one of the world’s most profound treatises on ethics, the Thirukkural, written by the Tamil poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar sometime between the third and first centuries BC. What is the relevance of Aram in the 21st-century world and in multicultural Singapore? This opening ‘intercultural dialogue’ among intellectuals from various cultural backgrounds explores the theme of Aram, with the aim of drawing out shared values, nuanced differences, and new insights. Our panellists and audience participants will articulate ideas in their own languages, as well as attempt to translate one another’s words, however imperfectly. Constantly mediating between the familiar and the unfamiliar, this format is experimental and open-ended. We will test the possibilities of a uniquely Singaporean conversation about our common moral life. The panel is facilitated by Festival Steering Committee chairman Kwok Kian Woon. 


Sa’eda Buang ialah seorang Pensyarah Kanan merangkap Penolong Ketua, Kumpulan Akademi Bahasa-bahasa dan Budaya-budaya Asia, dan Ketua, Bahagian Bahasa dan Budaya Melayu, Institut Pendidikan Kebangsaan, Universiti Teknologi Nanyang, Singapura. Minat pengajiannya merangkumi sastera bandingan dan pendidikan sastera, peradaban Melayu, pendidikan berasas pegangan agama dan kesaksamaan pendidikan. Beliau juga menulis puisi dan cerpen dan pernah meraih Hadiah Sastera, yang dianugerahkan oleh Majlis Bahasa Melayu Singapura, pada tahun 2003 (puisi), dan 2005 (cerpen dan puisi).


Sa’eda Buang is a Senior Lecturer-cum-Assistant Head, Asian Languages and Cultures Academic Group, and Head, Malay Language and Culture Division, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Her research interests include comparative literature and literature education, Malay civilization, faith-based education and educational equity. She writes poetry and short stories. She won the Literary Prize, awarded by the Singapore Malay Language Council, in 2003 (poetry), and 2005 (short story and poetry).

Sa'eda Binte Buang is featured in the following SWF event(s):
Nazry Bahrawi


Nazry Bahrawi specialises in the study of world literature, translation studies, as well as Islam and culture between the Middle East and South-east Asia. He is an associate editor of the Critical Muslim journal published in the UK, and has translated two Singaporean Malay literary works into English.

Chitra Sankaran is an associate professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the National University of Singapore. She has published widely in the academic field of South and South-east Asian fiction. She has also written a mystery novel set in Singapore and India. Currently, she is working on a book about ecology in South and South-east Asian women’s fiction.

Sithuraj Ponraj’s Kaatraai Kadanthai and Maariligal, won the 2016 Singapore Literature Prize for Tamil fiction and the Merit prize for Tamil poetry respectively. An English translation of Maariligal will appear in early 2017. Conversant in several languages, Sithuraj has translated works in Tamil, French and Spanish to English.  At present, he is working on translation a selection of Latin American Spanish poetry to Tamil. He is also finishing a work in English, The Body in Women’s Poetry in Tamil.

Sithuraj Ponraj is featured in the following SWF event(s):



Neo Hai Bin is a Singaporean theatre practitioner. The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Chinese Studies graduate is the founding core member of Nine Years Theatre Ensemble Project. He specialises in community outreach through theatre, and is passionate about writing, having written poems, stories and prose. He is also a regular contributor to Lianhe Zaobao.

Neo Hai Bin (梁海彬) is featured in the following SWF event(s):



Fei Xin is the pseudonym of Lee Huay Leng, a Singaporean poet and writer of both fiction and non-fiction. She was part of the editorial group for the Chinese literary magazine Afterwards. Her published works include Drifting Apart (1990) and Getting Accustomed to Sorrow (1996). Under her name Lee Huay Leng, she pens commentaries and has been a journalist since she joined the press in 1994.

Fei Xin (非心) is featured in the following SWF event(s):


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