FEER: Pressure builds on Singapore’s system

08Sep08

Devastating analysis from the Far Eastern Economic Review’s Hugo Restall.

If Singapore were a plural democracy, it would no doubt have developed an independent civil society capable of binding together the native-born and immigrants, providing mutual support. But the PAP and Lee Kuan Yew are like the African baobab tree, whose spreading canopy hogs the sun and prevents other trees from growing up underneath. Such a society may be easier to control, but it is also alienated and rootless, jealous of others’ gains—the oft-quoted national characteristic, kiasu, literally means “fear of losing.” In a developed economy that depends on attracting and retaining creative individuals, this has become a significant handicap.

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