Singapore's Authoritarian Capitalism: Asian Values, Free Market Illusions, and Political Dependency

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Singapore's Authoritarian Capitalism: Asian Values, Free Market Illusions, and Political Dependency

By Christopher Lingle
Locke Institute, 1996
168 pp. $20.00
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Christopher Lingle became an international celebrity after he wrote an article critical of Singapore's political leadership in the International Herald Tribune that aroused the ire of the government. At the time, Lingle was a visiting professor at the national university. Faced with the prospect of lawsuits and jail, he quickly fled the country and returned to the United States. His book is an indictment of the "suffocating, authoritarian intervention in most aspects of life there." Although he does not deny that Singapore has become one of the great economic success stories of modern times, he argues that its political repression has exacted significant economic and political costs. He questions the long-term survival of the ruling party -- the People's Action Party -- and its capacity to sustain Singapore's economic growth. Lingle's book is not a polemic, but the work of a trained economist and serious academic. It works on many levels: as a not very flattering description of political life in Singapore, as a warning that, over the long run, economic growth is not consistent with political oppression, and as a stimulating contribution to a discussion among American academics of how to achieve the right balance between individual freedom and social harmony.

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