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Singapore's leadership transition: erosion or refinement of authoritarian rule?

Rodan, G. (1992) Singapore's leadership transition: erosion or refinement of authoritarian rule? Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, 24 (1). pp. 3-17.

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In Novermber 1990 Goh Chok Tong became Singapore's second prime minister since self-government was instituted in 1959, with the former leader, Lee Kuan Yew, assuming the post of senior minister in the new cabinet. Conducted with remarkable precision and order, this leadership transition has been completed under economic and social conditions that pose new challenges to the People's Action Party (PAP) objective of retaining absolute political supremacy. This has resulted in a number of significant modifications in the political process in Singapore, though it does not necessarily mean a decisive shift away from authoritarian rule. Rather, while Singapore's younger leaders have actively promoted new outlets for political participation and dissent, these have tended to take a pseudocorporatist form wherein the PAP enjoys a significant capacity to define the limits of debate. At the same time, the new leadership has tried to enforce the closure of genuine political pluralism through a series of repressive measures. The bulk of this paper is dedicated to outlining this two-pronged strategy as a way of understanding the significance of the leadership transition for the prospects of political liberalization in Singapore.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Asia Research Centre
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
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