Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Another 15 years of Status Quo: Market Based Authoritarian Politics in Singapore

In his National Day Rally 2016, PM Lee Hsien Loong reminds us to look back 15 years to see how far we have achieved and look forward 15 years to see the future development and progress.

Yes. If you want to have these - vote the People’s Action Party and support the changes, for example, Elected Presidency, GRCs, more restrictions and controls etc.

Unfortunately, PM Lee paints a picture of the unique development of Singapore-style Market Based Authoritarian Regime - past, present and future.  Not only he insists of achieving it and he wants the future PAP PM to follow this pathway.

Unfortunately, this is a very likely scenario.

Let’s look at an example from China.

Prof. David Zweig of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in predicting China’s future gives the following 3 scenarios:


Even though China and Singapore have different political systems, the outcome of political development in the next 15 to 20 years look very similar, almost the same direction.   

The three Chinese scenarios can also apply to Singapore:

1 not likely
Democratic reform
Democracy and free elections
2 most likely
Market-Based  Authoritarian
3 impossible?
Collapse of CCP
Collapse of PAP

Here is another table which shows China is moving from totalitarianism to market economy with tight CCP control.

In this table, the party is the locus of power. In Singapore, we too experience this. The PAP decides and the society follows. In China, Prof. Zweig points out:

This comment sounds very familiar. In the past one year, Singaporeans have experienced more controls and restrictions on social media, freedom of speech, … just to keep the system stable and maintain support for the PAP.

If this status quo of political stagnation remains for another 15 years, how can the oppositions cope with it? What is the future direction of the oppositions?

What will be the game changer? Internal conflict within the PAP, leadership succession, global financial crisis and CPF….
Prof. Zweig predicts the third scenario although it is a possibility, it is not very high.  This can only happen when the CCP leadership rejects (economic) reforms and there are a lot of internal problems, internal disintegration.
In Singapore, it is also hard to imagine the collapse of the PAP, not even to the degree of the Nationalist KMT in Taiwan.    

Here is the video ‘China’s future’:

Photos and video copyright: Coursera@HKUST  

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