SUSS POL 103e Study Unit 3 ( The Singapore Nation-State: Nation Building…
SUSS POL 103e Study Unit 3
The Singapore Nation-State: Nation Building in Singapore
Nation-Building in Singapore
a process which leads to the formation of countries in which the citizens feel a
sufficient amount of commonality of interests, goals and preferences
so that they
do not wish to separate from each other
Nation-Building for a Singaporean Singapore
Nation-building in states like Singapore were less of a
democratic uprising and revolution but more a
consequence of decolonisation
as such states were carved out of colonies that had been under the rule of a colonial master
Product of decolonisation suggest that the state itself has “no significance -bond of attachment/identity - for their populations” and the elite who “inherit the state” then faced the problem of “creating nationality”.
Creating a national identity
Political leadership refused to appeal to exclusive racial and religious identities
weave multiracialism into Singapore’s very foundation
Creating a shared national identity.
Ethnic and Religious Diversity in Singapore
What is diversity
Pew research measure diversity based on
the extent a society is split into specific groups,
visibility of minority groups and the extent to which one or more groups may dominate society
How did it came a bout
Migration stemming from the time of british colonialism period created the basis of the heterogeneous
society in Singapore
Multi-Racialism and the CMIO Model in Singapore
The multi racial society in singapore is then organised into the CMIO model.
the CMIO rubric was used to highlight that despite working towards a Singaporean Singapore, citizens should not be “decentralise[d]”
The CMIO rubric sits
in line with Singapore’s constitution
which declares that “Singapore is a multiracial nation with equality for the three primary races” and has since been “embedded as the core rationale for many public policy
Avoid ethnic discrimination
multi-racialism promotes a sense of ease, sensitivity and self-conscious in which members of different ethnic communities interact at the public level with due respect, thereby
Secondly and on a related note, it is the most practical option to ensure
smooth and safe daily functioning
of society in Singapore
Multiculturalism is en-grained in our
The 4Ms Model
A comprehensive way to understand the concept of multi-racialism and the associated guiding policies is 4M Model.
many languages are spoken
in a heterogenous society.
each ethnic group has a distinct culture and while these cultures must be preserved, they also must be eventually merged and be compatible with “an overarching Singaporean national culture”lticulturalism
Proposes that the
various ethnic groups (or races) are equal
and neither is superior over another.
Related to meritocracy as merit and performance, rather than ethnicity, are the factors that determine “social and economic mobility” (Sucess not pegged to race)
Any kind of special privileges bestowed upon any community would instil a “crutch mentality”
Acknowledges the practice of many different religious in the heterogenous society but there is an “official disinterest” (Siddique, 1989) in religion where
no one single religion is regarded as superior or official
. (Siddique, 1989) Religion is instead relegated to the private realm In place of an official religion(s), “moral order” (Siddique, 1989) is instead emphasised
The Singapore Nation-Building Project
Maintenance of Religious Harmony
In playing the mediator role, the Singapore government has put in place several measures to maintain racial and religious harmony. These include:
(MRHA) The Maintenance of Religious Harmony
Under the MRHA, the Minister for Home Affairs is empowered to “make a restraining order against a person who is in a position of authority in any religious group or institution” if they are found to commit acts that include:
Causing hostility and emnity between religious group
Promoting a religious cause.
Freedom of religion
The guarantee of freedom of religion and the right to propagate one's religion as indicated in Article 15 of the Constitution
The presidential Council for religious Harmony
The Presidential Council for Religious Harmony which consists of religious and secular leaders, was established to “advise the President on matters affecting religious harmony”
The presidential Council for minority rights.
the Presidential Council for Minority Rights was established to “scrutinise all laws passed by Parliament to ensure that the laws of the land do not discriminate against any ethnic or religious group”
The Inter-religious organisation
The Inter-Religious Organisation aims to promote religious harmony and peace in Singapore by holding interfaith dialogues regularly so as to bring religious communities closer together
The government believed that providing affordable housing to Singapore citizens would then translate into the population feeling that they had a firm stake in Singapore, that would help “foster feelings of being committed and loyal to Singapore”
Home Ownership for the People Scheme
in 1964. The aim of the financial schemes was not narrowly targeted at the lower-income strata but to allow the largest proportion of the population to enjoy housing subsidies and thus
create widespread home ownership
Rationale behind housing
The Singapore government believed that the larger the proportion of Singaporeans with a
tangible stake in the country
, the more they would be willing to “vote responsibly and contribute to political stability
Ethnic integration Policy
HDB introduced the Ethnic Integration Policy which mandated a race quota for minorities in HDB estates so as to to prevent the formation of ethnic enclaves
Singapore government sought to build a well-trained, skilled workforce that would contribute to economic growth and social stability.
Meritocracy has consistently formed the basis of Singapore’s education policy
An impartial, non-partisan, merit-based education system which is English based was established to contend with emerging economic, social and political needs was thus seen as necessary.
No to welfare state
Singaporeans to rely on their own efforts as opposed to hand-outs from the government which is deemed as costineffective and detrimental to Singapore’s growth in the long-run
social safety nets in
Assistance to children
who have been identified as vulnerable or in need of assistance and encouraging more families to open their homes to such children as foster families
aimed to protect the elderly, in particular those who have been identified as at-risk
The Central Provident Fund (CPF)
scheme is seen as the main means of providing social security to Singaporeans. It marries both employment and retirement savings – compulsory contributions by employers and employees from employment translate into funds and savings for retirement; CPF funds are also used to help finance housing ownership in Singapore.
With such a small population, the Singapore government determined that a
“citizens’ armed force
” would thus be the only option to defend Singapore
Rumblings on the Multi-Racial Landscape
was soon perceived as a cloak for elitism as many soon began to feel that it
only rewarded those who were academically inclined
reinvention of the meritocracy
aspect of the nation-building project was seen as critical for continued societal harmony.
Otherwise, the elitism that is fostered through meritocracy would reinforce the very polarisation and divisions in society
Another source of tension among individuals in Singapore society is the spread of content that may “wound the racial (and religious) feelings of another person”
The Sedition Ac
t provides for criminalisation of actions that “raise discontent or disaffection amongst the citizens of Singapore
Is there a Singapore Culture?
often referred to as a diverse mix of cultures
the very cultural diversity present in Singapore itself, is representative of Singapore, along with Singlish and hawker food
Critical Issues in Government and Politics in Singapore Today
Civil Society and Democratisation in Singapore
Civil society can be imagined as a
public space that lies between the state, the economy and the private home
It is an open arena wedged between the public and private realms where actors from all three spheres can interact with each other
comprises several actors
such as non-profit organisations, education institutions, religious organisations, community groups and interest groups and individuals
A Vocal or Responsible Civil Society?
civil society in Singapore are not strong political actor as there were
as to how much civil society could legitimately intervene in politics
In response to iconoclastic arguments, government highlight that novelists, shortstory writers and theatre groups would not be allowed to set the political agenda from outside the political arena”
Singapore, while democratisation may be somewhat present, the
citizenry are subject to a “nonparticipatory political culture
, where citizens generally leave the business of politics to the government
nonconfrontational nature of Singapore’s civil society actors
highlight that there is managed “space” (Hill & Lian, 1995) that exists between the private and public realms of Singapore society. In doing so, such civil society actors have both represented civil society interests as well as aligned themselves with one of Singapore’s Shared values of “consensus instead of contention” (Hill & Lian, 1995) which is crucial for the continued healthy growth of a civil society that is vocal while being civic-minded and responsible.
Dangers of unregulated civil soceities
one of the dangers of a wider participation of civil society is when this
sociopolitical space is hijacked by ideas that are potentially disruptive to Singapore society
If, and when, the space of civil society is irresponsibly misappropriated by groups that attempt to
spread extremist ideas
, hate speech and discrimination or derision, it is the collective voice of civil society watchdogs that must self-regulate and censure such activities in order for civil society to remain as a credible socio-political actor.
by civil society actors “
increases credibility, improves accountability
and demonstrates serious purpose” (Corbett, Vienne, Khaldoun, Namisi, & Smith, 2016) In the
Singapore case, this self-regulation was witnessed when various members of civil society spoke out against protesters who disrupted another event at Speakers Corner in Speakers Corner in Singapore in September 2014
A Socio-Political Space in Singapore
Civil-Society as a political platform
are often primary goals of civil society
Civil society itself neither has a commercial or governmental purpose.
However, it is a
that involves itself in the political process by
advocating public policy issues
Values that are central to civil society
According to Danziger and Smith (2016), civil society is deemed to have emerged if the following values are present:
of differences in opinions and behaviour
high level of
and violence while resolving differences
Modernisation, the development of civil society and democratic values and the democratisation of society.
Modernisation theory proposes that when “
, urbanisation, mobilisation, and political incorporation” among others occurs,
cultural changes occur
within society as citizens, having crossed an economic threshold and
gained an economic and material maturity
, now can concern themselves with post-materialist values such as liberty, human rights, individualism, political rights and freedoms; this that allows that society “to
proceed to its culmination, democratisation”
Challenges Facing the Forthcoming Leadership of Singapore
“Gestural politics”: A Challenge to Democratisation Efforts?
Implications of General Elections 2011 and 2015
Leadership Renewal: Challenges and Considerations for Forthcoming