Governance of a Global City-State

Singapore is a uniquely successful small global city-state. Its size, location, history, diverse population, and lack of natural resources present a unique challenge for governance.

General theories of political development and governance, economic development and business strategies, models of public sector management and diplomacy can neither adequately explain Singapore's continued success, nor provide guidance for Singapore's future development

This research programme seeks out useful ideas and comparative experience that can be realistically applied or creatively adapted to help policymakers in the key sectors of the country build towards sustainable economic and social vibrancy.

Led by the University of Hong Kong and supported by Google News Lab, IPS is part of a study that seeks to map the misinformation and disinformation ecosystem of eight countries in Asia, including Singapore. This study seeks to understand the social and cultural landscapes relating to the production of misinformation and disinformation, identify the actors involved and their motivations, evaluate the scale and impact of the problem in Asia, and look into existing solutions and efforts to combat the issue.

Lead Researcher: Dr Carol Soon

This is a three-part study funded by the Ministry of Communications and Information. The first part looked at the various types of false information, factors underlying its persistence, specific solutions and government responses to the problem. The second part was a closed-door discussion jointly organised by IPS and First Draft in July 2017 that brought various stakeholders together to discuss the problem and identify future to-dos in various disciplines. The last part was an in-depth analysis of six case studies of the impact of fake news on elections.

Lead Researcher: Dr Carol Soon

This ongoing study is the third installment of the online political sensing project conducted by IPS in collaboration with the Living Analytics Research Centre (LARC) at the Singapore Management University. Using the 2017 Presidential Election as a case study, it aims to develop an online media analytics system that analyses online public opinion, and determine if there is a convergence between online and offline public sentiment. This study further refines the techniques developed in the previous studies.

Lead Researcher: Dr Carol Soon

Jointly organised by IPS and the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), the IPS-SAM Spotlight on Cultural Policy Series is a series of roundtable discussions that focuses on the issues and challenges pertaining to arts and cultural policy in Singapore. Each discussion bring together members of the arts and creative community, policymakers, academics and other stakeholders, to discuss a specific and timely topic about the arts and cultural policy landscape in Singapore.
The goal is to assess current policies and offer recommendations for the future. Previous roundtable discussions have addressed the state of literature education in secondary schools, place management and placemaking, the development of community arts, and the future of cultural leadership.

Lead Researcher: Tan Tarn How

This project envisions Singapore as a digital village of 6.9 million people, where people use technology to solve common problems collectively. Like a traditional village, a digital village would be governed by four distinctive traits — a strong sense of rootedness, self-organisation, solidarity and the gotong royong spirit. Learn more about this concept in the following links: Presentation by Dr Carol Soon at Cities Roundtable 2014; Singapore as a Digital Village a Plausible Reality; Making Singapore a Digital Village.

Lead Researcher: Dr Carol Soon

A new conception of the meaning and purpose of life that goes beyond the convenient catch phrase of “happiness” is needed. Central to this is the idea of leading a self-cultivating, de-atomised and hence flourishing existence. To bring it about, fundamental changes to education and society will be required.

Lead Researcher: Tan Tarn How

This study is a collaboration between IPS and the Living Analytics Research Centre (LARC) at the Singapore Management University. It is a sequel to a 2014 study, “Rationality of the Political Online Space”. It aims to further develop an online media analytics system that analyses online public opinion, and determine if there is a convergence between online and offline public sentiment. Using the National Day Rally 2016 (NDR 2016) as a case study, data relating to NDR 2016 was collected from Facebook, Twitter, blogs, forums and mainstream media articles. A survey of 2,000 Singaporeans was also conducted to understand which NDR 2016 issues Singaporeans were interested in, their attitudes towards those issues, as well as their media consumption habits. A seminar was held in February 2017 to present the findings from LARC and IPS.

Lead Researcher: Dr Carol Soon

A follow on to the 2010 Study on Emigration Attitudes of Young Singaporeans, this survey takes a prospective approach to studying emigration attitudes of young Singaporeans still in Singapore. Research on emigration traditionally focuses on the experience of immigrants in the country of settlement, which inadvertently confines the empirical investigations to those who have left the country. The survey aims to address the broader social dynamics and attitudes associated with outbound migration. Read more about the 2010 survey in IPS Working Papers No.19: A Study on Emigration Attitudes of Young Singaporeans (2010).

Lead Researcher: Dr Gillian Koh

The cluster continues work on analysing data from Wave IV of the Asian Barometer Survey. The survey works with Global Barometer Surveys to establish global indicators of democratic development and quality of governance; for use by a myriad of organisations, be they academic, government, or from civil society.

Lead Researcher: Dr Gillian Koh

In December 2017, the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) conducted a survey among 2,000 citizens of voting age, recruited though randomly selected landline telephone numbers, to gauge the national sentiment about the outcome of the election.

An additional 500 interviews were conducted among racial minorities to confirm that we received a fair representation of the views in the primary sample.

Lead Researcher: Dr Gillian Koh

The Singapore Economic Roundtable (SER) is a flagship programme of IPS. The twice-yearly meeting of a select group of senior private sector economists, academics, business leaders and policymakers is conducted under the Chatham House rule and is intended to generate a frank discussion of major macro-economic policy issues facing Singapore. Each SER assesses current monetary and fiscal policy in the light of changing economic circumstances and provides a forum for non-policy makers to air their recommendations. In addition, each SER also looks at a longer-term structural issue facing Singapore in detail. The insights from the SER are published as an IPS publication and in the media.

Lead Researcher: Dr Faizal Bin Yahya

The aim of this project is to work with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to find out how the SME environment as a whole experiences policy changes. This is especially relevant considering that SMEs employ 70 per cent of the workforce, and contribute about half of Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product (as of 2014). This research covers areas such as access to financing, mergers and acquisitions, tax rebates, subsidies and internationalisation.

Lead Researcher: Dr Faizal Bin Yahya

This project aims to uncover the drivers of rising living costs, as well as rising business costs over the previous two decades. Rising costs of living and doing business is a perennial concern for businesses in Singapore, and rising costs reduce the cost competitiveness of Singapore relative to its trading partners. The research explores several main drivers of cost increases, such as real estate costs in residential and retail markets, labour costs, market structure and characteristics in factor and product markets, and the role of broad macro factors such as capacity over-utilisation, population growth, and large liquidity inflows into the real estate sector in Singapore over the preceding decade. Read more about the findings in IPS Exchange Series No.9: Rising Costs in Singapore.

Lead Researcher: Manu Bhaskaran

IPS conducted a research study on friendships and communities in Singapore. It gathered the views of 3,000 Singapore citizens and permanent residents in households that were randomly selected. Blackbox Research Pte Ltd conducted the fieldwork which is now completed. The researchers, IPS’ Dr Gillian Koh and faculty from NUS’ Department of Sociology, Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser and Assistant Professor Vincent Chua, are now analysing the data and crafting the report on the study.

Lead Researcher: Dr Gillian Koh

As of 2016, there were an estimated 213,400 Singaporeans living, working or studying abroad. This survey explores the demographic and socio-economic profile of overseas Singaporeans, their attitudes toward Singapore and returning home, as well as their general concerns and views towards outreach and engagement programmes. This study is a follow-up to an online survey conducted in 2013, which interviewed over 3,000 respondents.

Lead Researcher: Dr Leong Chan Hoong

A survey of 12,000 Singapore citizens aged 21 or older will be conducted to get a sensing of citizens’ perceptions and attitudes in areas such as social values, governance, municipal issues, cost of living, housing, integration and emigration. The survey will also investigate Singaporeans’ perceptions of key institutions and political attitudes, and gauge the extent of political legitimacy.

Lead Researcher: Assoc Prof Tan Ern Ser

This study is a collaboration between NUS’ Department of Communications and New Media, IPS, and NUS School of Computing. Led by Associate Professor Zhang Weiyu with Dr Carol Soon as Co-Investigator, the project is a multi-phase study that brings together new media technology, policy studies and public communication strategies to address theoretical and implementation issues in policymaking. Involving a pre-deliberation survey, online deliberation and post-deliberation survey, the study examines how online deliberation on three population issues (fertility, foreign workforce and new immigrants) affects people’s opinions on the issues, the legitimacy of policymaking, and how platform design affects the process of deliberation. The project aims to develop a platform that will enable policymakers at various levels to incorporate citizen participation using digital technology. Visit http://onlinedeliberation.org/ for more information and publications.

Lead Researcher: Dr Carol Soon

In August and September 2016, the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) brought together around 100 people from different sectors in a series of scenario-planning workshops to discuss Singapore’s future in the year 2026. Participants were divided into three groups to discuss and debate three key themes that will shape our future — Longevity, Skills and Innovation. Each group was led by an IPS expert. Learn about the scenario-planning process and read the final report titled Year 2026: Doing Singapore Differently.

Lead Researcher: Dr Gillian Koh

A survey on public perceptions of Singapore’s history was conducted between August and October 2014 to explore the different strands of the Singapore narrative, and the influential stories that inspire current and future generations of Singaporeans. More than 1,500 Singaporean respondents were taken through a list of 50 local historical events. We asked: Which events were Singaporeans aware of, and which did they think were important to them and to future generations? Findings from this survey were presented at the Singapore Perspectives 2015 “Choices” conference in January 2015.

Lead Researcher: Dr Leong Chan Hoong

A nationwide online survey of 2,000 voters was conducted following General Election 2015 to examine voters’ use of media and the Internet, and its impact on political participation and voting behaviour. The main results were presented during the IPS Post-Election Conference held on 4 November 2015. Following that, the cluster also organised the IPS Symposium on Media and Internet Use During General Election 2015 where our collaborators from NTU, NUS and SMU provided a more detailed look at media use during the election. The findings of the survey have also been compiled into an IPS Exchange Series No.11: Media and Internet Use During General Election 2015.

Lead Researcher: Dr Carol Soon

In the midst of a growing concern about Singapore’s “culture wars” over contentious topics such as LGBT rights, or sanctity of life issues, such as abortion or the death penalty, The New Singaporean Pluralism project was a study done between 2015 and June 2016 involving closed-door focus group discussions and individual interviews to attempt to identify the specific basic points of contention, as well as objectionable advocacy tactics that have been used in recent years. Most importantly, the study attempted to tease out the potential principles and practices of governance that may help to maintain the civility of Singapore’s shared political space. The outcome of these discussions was reported in IPS Working Papers No. 25: SG50 and Beyond: Protecting the Public Space in the New Era of Singaporean Pluralism.

Lead Researcher: Dr Gillian Koh

Is cyberspace a Wild Wild West that is partisan, irrational and vitriolic? The first part of this study relied on human coders to examine and rate blog posts on political and social issues from nearly 200 blogs on their ‘rationality’. The second part was a collaboration with the Living Analytics Research Centre, where results obtained by human coders were used to train the computer to identify the topics of discussion in each blog post. Findings from the study were presented in a seminar in February 2015 as part of the IPS Digital Frontiers Seminar Series. It was also published in IPS Exchange Series No.6: The Rationality of the Political Online Space.

Lead Researcher: Dr Carol Soon

A first of its kind in Singapore, this study is an empirical snapshot of Chinese, Malay and Tamil blogs in their current form. It also serves as a record for purposes of comparison with future stages of non-English blogs’ evolution and provides a starting point for further research on their significance and contributions. The findings were presented in a seminar in April 2014, reported in the IPS newsletter and published in IPS Exchange Series No. 3: Study on Chinese, Malay and Tamil blogospheres in Singapore.

Lead Researcher: Dr Carol Soon

In order to aid the government in policymaking on issues of harassment, a conference was organised in November 2013 to identify, address and tackle the issue of harassment in our society. The topics of discussion included sexual harassment and stalking, harassment in school, and cyber harassment.

Lead Researcher: Dr Carol Soon

A closed-door discussion was held in April 2012 to examine if the government’s idea to have a voluntary Code of Conduct to regulate online behaviour would lead to more civility in cyberspace. Elsewhere, countries such as Malaysia and India have already put in place a Code of Conduct. Topics such as why a Code of Conduct is required, what problems the Code is trying to solve, and how effective it is, were discussed. The results were compiled into a report.

Lead Researcher: Tan Tarn How

The Post Election surveys, were conducted immediately after the 2006, 2011, and 2015, general elections; as well as the Presidential Election of 2011. The surveys provided insights into what shaped political attitudes and how Singaporean voters made their electoral decisions.

Lead Researcher: Dr Gillian Koh

This project was first conceived in 2007 to consider and analyse the public policy issues arising from Singapore’s demographic challenges through 2050 and offer possible solutions to address them. The objective was to undertake a holistic and multi-disciplinary view of the economic, social and political implications of projected demographic scenarios for Singapore over the next 40 years, and identify balanced and flexible policies that can ensure that Singapore’s future generations will be able to live, work and play in a good environment, and in a sustainable manner. The findings were published in IPS Exchange Series No.1: Population Outcomes: Singapore 2050.

Lead Researcher: Dr Yap Mui Teng

The IPS Prism Project was conducted in 2012 using the scenario planning method to help participants look beneath events to identify the deep driving forces that will shape the future and how these driving forces will interact with each other to create of alternative, plausible stories about the future, or “scenarios”.

Lead Researcher: Dr Gillian Koh

The General Election 2011 was dubbed by some as Singapore’s first “Internet election”. Yet, results from a national survey of voters conducted after GE2011 found that it was not quite so. Findings from the survey were also discussed at a conference in October 2011, and published in the book Battle for Hearts and Minds: New Media and Elections in Singapore. Read excerpts from the book: Youth, media and voting during the elections; Does the Internet help increase voter’s political knowledge; Mobilising political supporters online.

Lead Researcher: Tan Tarn How

Based on the results of a national telephone survey of 1,090 Singaporeans aged 21 and above, this study examined the political use of both traditional and social media, as well as the attitudes of people towards politics and political traits. It also looked at the correlation between cynicism and the consumption of online political news, as well as the two dimensions of political efficacy and their effects on political participation and media use. The results were presented in a seminar in September 2011.

Lead Researcher: Tan Tarn How