André Dao

Category: Non-fiction

Who owns the future?

THE FUTURE IS always arriving, in one form or another. There is no no future. It’s an absurdly simple point, like saying that one plus one equals two. But despite its apparent simplicity, it bears remembering because its corollary has far-reaching consequences: that the future will come regardless of our capacity to imagine and articulate a vision for it. Which in turn leads to another obvious but easily missed point: that any failure of the imagination vis-à-vis the future does not prevent the future arriving, but only leaves it susceptible to the visions of others. Or, to put it another way: the future belongs to those who dare to imagine it.

I first learnt the truth of that maxim in the spring of 2015, when I was invited to the nation’s capital for the inaugural Junket, an ‘un-conference’ where two hundred of Australia’s ‘best and brightest young minds’, its ‘game-changers’ and future leaders, would gather to ‘share ideas, get advice, be inspired, innovate, teach, learn, network and have fun – all with the (suitably ambitious) aim of helping set the agenda for Australia’s future’. Read the rest of this entry »



What’s mine is yours

Originally published in issue 22 of The Lifted Brow. Buy it here.

I don’t know how to think about these things…[1]

On the one hand, I am distinct from you. I am distinct from my father and I am distinct from my children, were I ever to have any. My existence is discrete, bookended by a birth and a death. I am hermetically sealed from the outside world by my skin, by which I recognise myself in the mirror: an individual, a subject, not you or him or her or it but me. I am the bearer of rights and the holder of tastes. I assert my human right to self-expression. Read the rest of this entry »

Tom Grant

This article was first published in the Sex issue of The Lifted Brow. Get a copy here.

I literally stumbled across Tom Grant for the first time in the living room of my Flemington share house. We’d had a big party the night before, and I was groping my way to the bathroom when I tripped on something amongst the broken glass and the empty goon bags. Tom was wrapped in our filthy rug, sleeping with his mouth half open. Later, when my housemates and I were half-heartedly cleaning up around him, one of them nudged his prone body and whispered to me, “that’s the boy wonder, Tom Grant.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Future of Human Rights

This article was originally published in Issue 2 of the New Philosopher. Buy a copy here.

It has been 65 years since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since then, the world has witnessed a proliferation of international human rights treaties and organisations. The language of human rights has become the dominant moral language of our time. Yet that has not stopped the atrocities, from Rwanda to Syria, nor uplifted the wretched of the earth. Have human rights failed? Read the rest of this entry »

Softly, Softly

This article originally appeared in The Monthly. Subscribe here.

Almost three years ago, Singapore’s Internal Security Department (ISD) approached Tey Tsun Hang, a Malaysian-born law associate professor at the National University of Singapore (NUS), about becoming a “listening-post” –meaning that he would provide information about goings-on in the law faculty. In return, Tey, then 39, would meet the ISD’s boss: someone who could “protect” Tey in the future. Left unsaid was that the ISD, Singapore’s secret police, who hold the power to indefinitely detain without charge or trial those suspected of jeopardising national security or public order, could have easily revoked Tey’s permanent residency status. Read the rest of this entry »

Our Surveillance Society


This article was originally published in the New Philosopher. Get a copy here.

In the perfect prison, I am bathed in light. I don’t languish in the dark – I am put to work. There are no wardens, at least, none that I can see. But I am watched all the time. I know that I’m being watched, and in the beginning, I live within myself, where their eyes can’t follow. Despite these noble intentions, I start to slip up; I make a phone call to the outside, I start writing in a diary. Eventually, I don’t care – I can’t care – about the watchers. Eventually, it’s hardly like being in prison at all. Read the rest of this entry »