« Why Singapore is struggling to reinvent itself » by William Pesek, 11/07/2017, Nikkei Asian Review
Roots of today`s problems were visible in the city-state over 20 years ago.
There is a hot new industry in Singapore: Kremlinology.
Paul Krugman once compared the city-state to the Soviet Union under Stalin, and the Nobel laureate had a point. He was not referring to communism or to mass killings, of course — but the art of observing, deducing and obsessing over a secretive organization is again consuming the nation of 5.5 million people. The subject of the latest intrigue is a bizarre spat within the family at the core of Singapore’s astounding success and the row is fueling an unprecedented scandal that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says could dent the nation’s squeaky-clean image.
As far as Singapore’s budding Kremlinologists can tell, the tiff concerns the estate of Lee Kuan Yew, who died in 2015. Some of Lee’s children accuse their brother, the current prime minister, of preserving a family home that Singapore’s founding father wanted demolished. They took to social media to air the dirty laundry of a family that long maintained a facade of having none. Many are asking what is really going on and what the first family brawling means for the trajectory of Singapore’s top-down political and economic system.
The echoes of Krugman’s 1994 critique are impossible to miss. His over-the-top comparison was this: Lee Kuan Yew’s model of appropriating domestic savings, championing state-linked companies and steering the workforce into moderate-paying jobs « would have done Stalin proud, » but would ultimately prove unsustainable. The fallout from that unsustainability is now the biggest challenge facing the younger Lee. Efforts to recalibrate the engines of growth away from demographics to greater productivity and innovation are not doing Singaporeans proud.
Juliette Koning, Gwenaël Njoto-Feillard (eds), New Religiosities, Modern Capitalism, and Moral Complexities in Southeast Asia, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017
As Southeast Asia experiences unprecedented economic modernization, religious and moral practices are being challenged as never before. From Thai casinos to Singaporean megachurches, from the practitioners of Islamic Finance in Jakarta to Pentecostal Christians in rural Cambodia, this volume discusses the moral complexities that arise when religious and economic developments converge. In the past few decades, Southeast Asia has seen growing religious pluralism and antagonisms as well as the penetration of a market economy and economic liberalism. Providing a multidisciplinary, cross-regional snapshot of a region in the midst of profound change, this text is a key read for scholars of religion, economists, non-governmental organization workers, and think-tankers across the region.