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Foreign Policy and Votes of New Citizens...And the (Incomplete) Contract Theory…

Singapore’s foreign policy is rule-based policy. As we have short history, we cannot over-rely on history. Will the short history and rule-order foreign policy affect the voting pattern of new citizens?

Many analyses claim new citizens will support the People’s Action Party in General Elections. In fact, this is a worry for oppositions.  With the increasing number of new citizens, it seems a mission impossible for oppositions to have further breakthrough in future GEs. And the PAP is so confident that they intend to introduce more Non-Constituency Members of Parliament, from 9 to 12, in future GE.

Everything looks good for the PAP.  Will there be any game changer?

Perhaps, Singapore’s foreign policy and the contract theory? 

Nobel Prize in Economics Awarded to Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström for Work on Contract Theory   WSJ.png

Singapore’s Foreign Policy
The fundamental principles of Singapore’s Foreign Policy are:

  • As a small state, Singapore has no illusions about the state of our region or the world.
  • We need to maintain a credible and deterrent military defence to underpin our foreign policy.
  • We must promote and work for good relations with our neighbours in all spheres.
  • We are friends with all those who wish to be friends with us.
  • We stand by our friends who have stood by us in times of need.
  • We fully support and are committed to ASEAN.
  • We work to maintain a secure and peaceful environment in and around Southeast Asia and in the Asia Pacific region.
  • We must work to maintain a free and open multilateral trading system.
  • We are ready to trade with any state for mutual benefit and will maintain an open market economy.
  • We will support and be active in international organisations such as the UN.

The PAP is very happy to see this. Contract is rule based and so do our foreign policy. Contract, Foreign Policy and the PAP seem to be a perfect match.

[Being a small city-state, Singapore cannot survive in a world where might is right, which is why it needs to be a strong advocate of a rules- based world order, said Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Defence Ong Ye Kung.

He cited an example: With independence in 1965, the Separation Agreement guaranteed Singapore's water agreements with Malaysia.

"A small country needs a world order that respects and abides by international law and the sanctity of contracts and agreements," he told delegates at the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing.

"We cannot over-rely on history because it was not too long ago in history that Singapore did not exist," Mr Ong said at a plenary session titled Responding To New Security Challenges In The Asia-Pacific Through Cooperation.

This is one reason why Singapore diplomats have actively helped to set up international conventions such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, multilateral trading regimes, and also climate change negotiations, he added.]

Contract, Foreign Policy and the PAP seem to be a perfect match.And we don't talk history but new citizens have long history.

Will new citizens agree with this perfect match? Will old citizens too agree with the perfect match?

When Lee Hsien Loong took over the government in 2004, his economic policy is ‘casino’ based. New citizens come here because Singapore offers a ‘casino’ contract of get rich quick. Now, Singapore’s economy is slowing down and we may no longer offer the same get-rich quick ‘casino’ contract.

New citizens will think the PAP government is breaking the contract - no high growth, no get rich quick casino. Will they act differently from the old citizens?

(Old citizens know but act passively)

This year’s Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences is awarded to two economists who develop Contract Theory.   The theory can also apply to politics.

It is too early to tell the implication of Contract Theory to Singapore politics. For sure, it can be used for (or to check) the high salary of ministers, the CPF, insurance, privatisation policy, ownership, etc.

When we talk about contracts we have to consider the visible and invisible impacts.  The PAP always says they are presenting the facts and figures and the calculations.

How about the invisible side? For example the foreign policy. In 2004, new citizens think the casino economic policy and foreign policy is a perfect match. But in 2016, it may no more a perfect match and so they will vote differently.

For the local born ‘old’ citizens, the promised contract, such as Switzerland Life, has broken. With the awakening and awareness of contract theory, will they continue to be so passively thinking the Parliament only needs NCMPs and Nominated MPs?


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