This book provides a detailed analysis of how governance in Singapore has evolved since independence to become what it is today, and what its prospects might be in a post-Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) future. First, it discusses the question of political leadership, electoral dominance, and legislative monopoly in Singapore’s one-party dominant system and the system’s durability. Second, it tracks developments in Singapore’s public administration, critically analysing the formation and transformation of meritocracy and pragmatism, two key components of the state ideology. Third, it discusses developments within civil society, focusing in particular on issues related to patriarchy and feminism, hetero-normativity and gay activism, immigration and migrant worker exploitation, and the contest over history and national narratives in academia, the media, and the arts. Fourth, it discusses the People's Action Party (PAP) government’s efforts to connect with the public, including its national public engagement exercises that can be interpreted as a subtler approach to social and political control. In increasingly complex conditions, the state struggles to maintain its hegemony while securing a pre-eminent position in the global economic order. Tan demonstrates how trends in these four areas converge in ways that signal plausible futures for a post-LKY Singapore.
Table of Contents
1. Singapore’s Dominant Party System
2. Harnessing Talent for a Macho-Meritocratic Elite
3. Pragmatism and the Neoliberal State
4. The Patriarchal State’s Feminization of Civil Society
5. Gay Activism, Religious Conservatism, and the Policing of Neoliberal Crises
6. Moral Panic and the Migrant Worker Folk Devil
7. Inventing and Re-inventing the Public
8. The Singapore Story: Censorship and Nostalgia in the Creative City
9. Imagining Futures After Lee Kuan Yew
Kenneth Paul Tan is Associate Professor and Vice Dean at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.
'Kenneth Paul Tan has been an insightful observer of Singapore politics, society, and culture for almost two decades. He brings his multidisciplinary expertise to bear on the many challenges that confront the clean, meritocratic, and pragmatic governance of what is a truly remarkable small state. This richly-textured book consolidates much of his thinking on this. It provides vivid lenses for seeing into the near future, which Singaporeans must do in order not only to survive but to prosper in a more complex world.' - Professor Kishore Mahbubani, Founding Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore
'Kenneth Paul Tan is one of Singapore’s thoughtful scholars. This book is important because we live in an urban world. The future of the world depends on how well we govern our cities.' - Professor Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore
'No part of Singapore’s story escapes Tan’s critical eye, and he is relentless in questioning received wisdom and the motivations of the ruling classes. The message of the book is ultimately one of hope, however. Tan’s passion for Singapore shines through – in his view there is so much that is good and right with the country. Singapore can escape Macbeth’s fate by embracing a 'messier, more experimental, ever-questioning, and self-critical system that is able to institutionalise diversity and debate'. This may be challenging, but with passionate advocates such as Kenneth Paul Tan, Singapore’s path forward may become clear.' - Harriet Loos, Centre for Public Impact, London