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Chua Beng Huat 蔡明發教授
Head of Studies, Urban Studies, Yale-NUS College
Since the 2008 global recession, there is now a common refrain that the global liberal order is in ideological and practical crisis. The crisis has created discursive and ideological space for the emergence of alternative ideologies to liberalism. Nevertheless, the political left has been unable to respond to the issues that have always been their preoccupation; issues such as extreme income inequalities, decline in social welfare provisions. This is largely because the so-called real socialist economies of Eastern Europe and Soviet Russia had been such abject failures that it has left the political left in deep despondency. Yet, ‘socialism’ as a critique of capitalism remains an important and valuable concept that should not be discarded along with the failures of the Eastern European and Soviet socialist economies.
Ironic as it might seem, as Singapore has always projected itself as a poster-boy of global capitalism, I want to recuperate the ‘socialist’ elements in the political economy of the Singapore state as the key explanation for the longevity of the People’s Action Party in parliamentary power in the past six decades.
Academic analyses of the PAP government has been still stuck in a very reductionist critique of its authoritarianism, it’s the longevity in parliamentary power. The fact is six decades of economic development which has spawned an increasingly politically, economically, culturally and socially complex citizenry quite capable of evaluating for themselves what is rational for their own life trajectories. In the face of these developments, I will attempt to explain the longevity of the PAP in parliamentary power through its, by now seldom mentioned if not forgotten social democratic beginnings and the institutionalisation of some socialist values in contemporary Singapore, most notably its national public housing program and state-ownership of capital as instruments of social redistribution.
Institute of Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University (NCTU)
Center for the Study of Sexualities, National Center University (NCU)
International Center for Cultural Studies (ICCS), National Chiao Tung University (NCTU)
International Institute for Cultural Studies, University System of Taiwan (UST)
International Master’s Program in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, University System of Taiwan (IACS-UST)
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