Conferences and Major Events

Workshop: A New Governance Model for Singapore

10 February, 2014
2 - 5.30 PM

Supported by:

·  Department of Government and International Relations

·  School of Social and Political Sciences

·  Electoral Integrity Project

Inquiries: Lily Zubaidah Rahim, Department of Government and International Relations,


Singapore has long been touted as a beacon of socio-political stability and economic development in the Asia-Pacific region. This perspective requires serious interrogation in light of the governance challenges confronting the city-state in the twenty-first century. These challenges include widening income disparities, minimal state expenditure on social welfare, infrastructure bottlenecks, weak local private capital, strong reliance on low-wage labor and the maintenance of electoral authoritarian rule. Repeated policy failures have thrown the Singapore governance model into doubt. The post-2011 electoral setbacks experienced by the Peoples Action Party (PAP), in government for more than 50 years, exemplify the deepening groundswell of discontent with the ‘growth-at-all-cost’ mode of governance. The clamor for ‘growth with equity’ in the repoliticised polity has continued to gather momentum – galvanised further by the PAP government’s rhetoric of change but delivery of largely piecemeal policy reform.

This workshop will examine the key socio-political, economic and policy limitations of a governance model at a critical crossroad. These limitations will be placed within a comparative context and analysed in relation to other industrialised developmental states in Northeast Asia and beyond. Some of the issues and questions to be discussed include: The key differences and similarities between the Singapore model and its Northeast Asian developmental state counterparts and the extent to which these explain Singapore’s policy and governance challenges. Will continued electoral backlashes and intra-elite divisions steer Singapore’s authoritarian developmental state closer to the democratic developmental state trajectories of Northeast Asia? Has Singapore’s institutional landscape been weakened by championing the financial sector as a pillar of growth? How sustainable is Singapore’s high-growth population policy that is strongly reliant on foreign labour? To what extent is the Singapore model of development and authoritarian governance outmoded, particularly in the context of an increasingly globalised, internet savvy and sophisticated society?

The workshop will bring together leading scholars of international political economy, comparative politics, East Asian developmentalism and Singapore politics to explore the abovementioned themes and issues.

Workshop presenters

·Prof. Linda Weiss (University of Sydney), Chair

·A/Prof. Natasha Hamilton-Hart (Auckland University), ‘Championing the Finance Sector, Producing a Perverse Political Economy’

·A/Prof. Terence Lee (Murdoch University), ‘Desperately Seeking A New Model for Government Communication and Media Control in Singapore’

·Dr Michael Barr (Flinders University), ‘Old Wine in Old Skins: Singapore’s Fraught Search for a New Development and Political Model’

·A/Prof. Lily Zubaidah Rahim (University of Sydney), ‘Reclaiming Singapore’s ‘Growth With Equity’ Compact’

Location: Darlington Boardroom