Resisting authoritarian populism: Lessons from and for Singapore

22 May 2017

The Donald Trump presidency and Brexit have dominated public discourse this year. Both have been characterised as manifestations of what appears to be a rising tide of right-wing populist politics in many parts of the world.

Six years ago, in 2011, Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) won the country’s general election, but earned its lowest percentage of the popular vote since coming into power more than half a century ago.

Although many viewed these more competitive elections and improved prospects for political opposition as a sign of political liberalisation and maturity, a few were quietly concerned. They fear that Singapore’s paternalistic and technically rational administrative state, credited with the Republic’s remarkable success and largely insulated from political pressures, would start to succumb to populism, and that the Singapore success story would start to unravel.

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Kenneth Paul Tan is vice-dean for Academic Affairs and an associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. This article was published in Today on 22nd May 2017.

Kenneth Paul Tan

Associate Professor