Simon Tay

Simon Tay (placeholder).png


Born in 1961, Simon Tay is a Singaporean author, law professor and former Nominated Member of Parliament. After graduating from the National University of Singapore with a LL.B (Honours) degree, he was admitted as an Advocate and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Singapore and proceeded to pursue his Masters in Law at Harvard University on a Fulbright Scholarship. He went on to practice law until late 1989, when he became an International Writers’ Fellow as part of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program.

Simon’s first two poetry collections, Prism (1980) and 5 (1985), were both critical successes. 5 was awarded a special commendation award from the National Book Development Council and he was accorded the title of Singapore’s Best Young Poet from The Straits Times in 1986. Following this, he published his debut novel, City of Small Blessings (2009), which won the 2010 Singapore Literature Prize, and two short story collections, Stand Alone (1991) and Middle and First (2014). Simon has also written non-fiction, with his best known work amongst them, Asia Alone: The Dangerous Post-Crisis Divide from America (2009), being well received by prominent media outlets such as The Economist and The Financial Times.

Poems from Simon’s collection, Prism, have since been anthologised in a collection of ASEAN literature and his poetry has been featured in a special literary column from The Straits Times celebrating Singapore’s 25th Anniversary in 1990, as well as in the anthology Rhythms: A Singaporean millennial anthology of poetry (2000). His works of fiction have also appeared in several other anthologies over the years, including The Merlion and the Hibiscus: Contemporary Short Stories from Singapore and Malaysia (2002), Island Voices: A Collection Of Short Stories From Singapore (2007), One: The Anthology (2012), Singapore Noir (2014) and Balik Kampung 3B: Some East More West (2016). 

For two years starting from 1989, Simon was a columnist for The Sunday Times and has contributed commentary pieces to other leading newspapers and academic journals. He initiated the voluntary organisation, Singapore Volunteers Overseas (now known as Singapore International Volunteers), which recruits young volunteers to lend their services in developing countries. In 1995, he sat on the board of directors for the non-governmental agency, Singapore Environment Council, and remained a board member for eight years. He later became the chairman of the National Environment Agency from 2002 to 2008, representing Singapore at major international negotiations concerning environment and sustainable development and trade. 

Between 1997 to 2001, Simon served in Parliament as one of its nine non-elected and independent members, focusing on issues relating to civil society, environment and human rights during his term. 

Presently, he is the Associate Professor of Law at the National University of Singapore, and concurrently serves as both Chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs and Senior Consultant at WongPartnership LLP.

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