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A Study of Authoritarianism in Singapore

Author: LuZhengTao
Tutor: TanJunJiu
School: Wuhan University
Course: Political Theory
Keywords: The People Action Party Singapore Authoritarianism Political development
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2003
Downloads: 2159
Quote: 6
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Authoritnrianism is a striking phenomenon of political development insome East Asian countries and districts after World WarⅡ. Authoritarianism inSingapore has sustained more time than in South Korea and Chinese Taiwan.Why did authoritarianism emerge in Singapore.’? What role doesauthoritarianism play in the process of Singaporean political development andwhat would we expect fi’om authoritarianism in Singapore? These issues are themain contents that the author will inquire in this dissertation.This dissertation is composed of six parts.PartⅠ: Introduction. In this part, the author analyses the differentcircumstances which the scholars used the word "authoritarianism", confirmsthe connotation of authoritarianism, and then points out the main issues,viewpoints and insufficiencies under consideration. This paper concludes thatthe contemporary Singapore polity is authoritarianism given the connotation ofauthoritarianism, the characteristic featured by a hegemonic party system, theparty’s position over the government, the state overriding on the society,technocracy, economic development and market economic orientation,anti-corruption and rule of law. On the basis of this, the author approaches theauthoritarianism in Singapore both fiom the historical perspective and withtheoretical analysis.PartⅡ: the forming of Authoritarianism in Singapore. For over 140 yearsthat the British Governor had been ruling Singapore, and left over many thepolitical legacies that deeply affect the political development of Singapore afterits independence. The author first analyses these political legacies and theeffects in the forming of authoritarianism in Singapore. Market Economy and Singapore as the trade center of the Southeast Asia, the forming of the"Singapore Nation Entity" indirectly affected that authoritarianism appeared inSingapore, and the tradition of the centralization of state power and autocracy,the form of the parliament democracy, the Internal Security Act and theSingapore political culture directly had to do with the emerging ofauthoritarianism in Singapore. The rising and development of Singaporenational movement led to the autonomy of Singapore in 1959 and independencein 1965. The People Action Party finally achieved power and the rulinglegitimacy because it took part in and led the national movement. After that, thePeople Action Party expanded the basis of the ruling legitimacy by developingeconomy, centralized the power by abolishing organizational system of the localgovernment, and dominated the government by striking the anti-Lee KuanYew’s faction and by securing the monopoly of power all led to the emerging ofauthoritarianism in Singapore.PartⅢ: the consolidating of authoritarianism in Singapore. Frommid-1960s to early 1980s, the People Action Party had taken advantage of thegood and bad situations and consolidated authoritarianism in Singapore byconstructing the political system, promoting the economic and socialdevelopment, and seeking the supports of the international society. In politics,the People Action Party offered the ruling jurisprudential basis by drawing upthe Singapore constitution, formed the "administration’s domination" byadjusting the power relation in the parliament government, caused the peopleAction Party’s hegemony by continuously suppressing the opposition partiesand causing them unable to oversee the government, made the oppositionparties to lose the grass-roots by building and perfecting the CommunityCenters, the Citizens’ Consultative Committees and the Residents’ Committeeswhich the People Action Party had controlled. In the economic development and social development, the People Action Party helped to bring about thenational identity among the common people by laying stress on the Singaporeexisting crisis and raising the "existence ideology", improved the relationamong the Singapore ethnic groups by implementing the policies of the ethnicequality and development, pushed forward the high increase of the Singaporeeconomy and made the mass of people to gain benefits by carrying out theexport-orientation industrialization strategy, kept the political stability bystrengthening.the control of the society. In the foreign affairs, the people ActionParty’s government implemented the peace diplomatic policies and expandedthe space which authoritarianism existed in the international society.PartⅣ: the development of authoritarianism in Singapore in 1980s. Thereasons that authoritarianism in Singapore developed were the changes ofSingapore economic and social structure, the dissatisfactions of the mass ofpeople to the People Action Party’s rule, and the authoritarianism in Singaporemade the room for the opposition parties to development. The People ActionParty’s countermeasures were to limit the roles of the opposition partiesrepresentatives on helping the government to find issues and improving thePeople Action Party’s rule, to prevent the opposition parties from controllingthe grass-roots, to keep the People Action Party in the leading place, to controlthe newspapers and to suppress the social groups to keep the People ActionParty’s ruling order. On the other hand, the People Action Party’s governmentreformed the system of the electoral districts and carried out the system that theGroup Representation Constituency and the Single Representation Constituencybe used at same time in the election process to limit the opposition parties’representative candidates to be elected, and set up the Non-ConstituencyMembers and enlarged the parliament’s universality, and improved the PeopleAction Party’s interest expressing mechanism to win over the people’s understanding and support, and renewed the leadership of the People ActionParty to keep it’s energy. Lee Kuan Yew explained again the Confucianism’seight maxims to demonstrate indirectly the People Action Party’s legitimacy.The Singaporean government launched the Second Industrial Revolution topreserve the high economic increase and the people’s support.PartⅤ: "Consultative Democracy": the changing of authoritarianism inSingapore. Authoritarianism in Singapore constructed in the political system is1990s. President, which was directly elected by the people, owned thepeople’s support and was endowed the power to check the premier and hisgovernment, the Nominated Members which were established, enlarged againthe parliament’s legitimacy basis. The practice of appealing to the JuridicalCommittee of Privy Council was abolished in 1994 to block up the flan of theSingapore juridical system. The people Action Party threatened the voters andpersecuted the personage of the opposition parties to guarantee the people’ssupport and weaken the opposition parties, and it enlarged the scope of theGroup Representation Constituency to maintain the People Action Party’sdominant position in the parliament, while some were granted the rights tocriticize moderately the government to let off the people dissatisfactions andangers. Singapore also put forward the "National Ideology" to justify thegovernlnent’s ruling, with much importance attached to economic growths andredistributions to ensure the people’s support.PartⅥ: Conclusion. The author comes to the conclusion that theSingaporean political development has reflected the universality andparticularity of the political development in human societies by analyzing theforming, consolidating and development of authoritarianism in Singapore. TheSingaporean political development is the result that the eastern cultureconflicted with and adjusted to the western culture. The People Action Party gained power by taking part in and leading the Singapore national movement,then strengthened its ruling legitimacy basis in politics, economy and culture.The autonomy of the People Action Party government came from the closerelation of Lee Kuan Yew’s political force with the British capital and theautonomy was heightened by attracting the foreign capitals, setting up the stateenterprises. The logical starting point which the capacity of the Singaporegovernment grew was that the market economy was adopted, and raised thiscapacity by strengthening the control of the society, taking fully use of the meritof the single governmental system, maintaining an efficient and cleangovernment, changing timely the economic developmental strategy. Theautonomy of the Singaporean society has been undergoing the zigzag line fromthe strong to the weak, and in turn from the weak back to the strong. It will takeSingapore quite some time to develop from authoritarianism further todemocracy.

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