Sunday, May 15, 2011

The world's only technocratic dictatorship-the unique tale of Singapore

While reading the Economist's article( on how Singapore had successfully made itself into a finance hub, some of my experiences here(as well as observing the election ruckus here) led me to write this post
  1. Singapore IS a one family dictatorship:-If you define dictatorship as a oligarchic single family rule, then Singapore does fit the bill. One man(Lee Kuan Yew aka Minister Mentor) ruled Singapore till 1990, and is accused of squashing politically opposition to the extent that when the opposition won 6/87 parliament seats, there were claims of 'paradigm shifts' happening. MM's son is the present Prime Minister, with little signs of succession change. To be fair, they have achieved this de-facto(and not by military force) because they have performed.
  2. But it uses technology well:- As any user of the public transport system would attest to, it has been designed with the user in mind-as have ALL public utility services. Not many places can claim that. And the public services use technology amazingly well like SingPass etc. Also, the broadband speed, power, water supply etc is all good.
  3. And has low corruption:-Barring the usual crony capitalism examples(ministers/MPs holding on to Govt corporation posts despite being the highest paid politicians globally), Singapore corruption is virtually non existent(I say virtually only because no system is 100% safe)
It does allow political dissent(that is why concerns are aired in the press AND I can write this post). But in a system where a party getting 60% of the votes can win 81/87 seats, there seems something wrong with the system itself. I'll leave you to Google the electoral system here.  As someone famously said, why care what colour the cat is as long as it catches mice?This Faustian bargain seems to exist here, and had lasted for seeming eternity till the first cracks surfaced in 2011(post economic crisis) leading to the loss of a parliamentary constituency(5MPs). For the sake of the world, I do hope this unique experiment continues. After all, this is perhaps the best functioning and cheapest run Government in the world and it is a pity to see it fall.