Singapore and the Demoncracy [sic] of Political Freedom

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 8/04/2014 01:30:00 AM
Ah, independent Singapore: a Lee-controlled city-state with a brief Goh Chok Tong intermission. I call it the "Medvedevian Interlude." Harry Lee Kuan Yew is famous for his "Asian Values" argument that the natural mode of governance in Asian countries is authoritarianism due to cultural factors unique to the region. Confucianism and all that. This argument has been endlessly debated--see, for instance, Amartya Sen's criticism of the whole idea.

While visiting Singapore on a recent trip, a former student of mine with something of an authoritarian streak took a photo of an advertising hoarding (the British term for a billboard) that to me best sums up the Lee family line on democracy if they had a sense of humor: "DEMONCRACY NOW: The region's most TERRIFYING event is back." Adding to the hilarity, if you go to the website listed in the hoarding, it further advises us that this Universal Studios attraction features "The Ministry of Evil." Aaaigh...elections [!]...real opposition parties [!!]...that actually win elections in heavily gerrymandered Singapore [!!!] The sheer horror is too much to contemplate.

I guess in tightly-controlled Singapore where Lee the Elder and latterly Lee the Younger have sued any and all media outlets who have dared criticize them with defamation suits, your digs have to be subtle ;-) While I would appreciate the notoriety of being sued by the Lees, I'm afraid I've said nothing remotely defamatory here. Universal Studios may be hearing from the Lees, soon, however.