Communitarian Ideology and Democracy in Singapore

Communitarian Ideology and Democracy in Singapore

Communitarian Ideology and Democracy in Singapore

Communitarian Ideology and Democracy in Singapore

Synopsis

The economic success of Singapore has established the country as a model for other nations. Yet until now the ideas behind this accomplishment have not been critically examined.
Communitarian Ideology and Democracy in Singaporefills this gap. The book outlines the policies the ruling party has adopted over the past three decades. It charts the government's move away from Western concepts towards the evolution of 'Asian democracy'. The author analyses this anti-liberal democracy and the government's motives for repackaging cultural heritage into a national ideology of Asian communitarianism.
This book avoids the polarization that has tended to characterise texts on Asian governments. It neither concentrates on a history of authoritarian repression nor unequivocally praises the regime but critically examines its political success. As such it provides a new and balanced account to the student of Singapore politics.

Excerpt

The ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) in Singapore has prided itself on its purely pragmatic approach to the recurrent problems confronted by the island-state. That pragmatism has been extolled, in particular, over the way in which the trauma and tribulations of separation from Malaysia were overcome to national advantage. Dr Chua Beng Haut has put that proprietary pragmatism under his intellectual microscope to expose its ideological dimension and purpose as well as to demonstrate its mutability. In this set of separate but closely interconnected essays, he argues that in fact ideology has been consciously formulated and then reformulated beyond pragmatism by the PAP to serve its version of an appropriate political order. Such reformulation has been necessary in Singapore because the successful utilisation of an initial ideology based on individualistic premises has given rise to problems of political control. For that reason, as he explains, the political and ideological work of government is never done. A founding social contract between government and electorate in which legitimacy had been accorded on the basis of an economic nexus has had to be revised with changing economic and social circumstances as well as changing generations.

In his challenging and robust analysis, Dr Chua tracks and interprets the process of ideological reformulation within Singapore from the onset of PAP rule. At issue in this volume are the underlying causes in the refashioning of state ideogy driven by the relationship between phenomenal economic achievement and striking social change. Singapore’s experience of so-called developmental authoritarianism has not been unique in East Asia. Dr Chua is at pains to point out, however, that the object of ideological reformulation in Singapore’s case has been to obstruct and to deny any logical linear

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