Singapore, after gaining independence about 50 years ago, had a problem. The country is a small island with practically nothing. So to survive & prosper, the country focused on a highly deliberate, highly central planned, highly step by step & highly orderly, development path. Today, 50 years later, Singapore is a successful, business center, thriving, but hit with many global problems, and so it is slowing. The cost, of the Singapore “Deliberate” development model, was Democracy, Liberty & Rights, where justice, and the rule of law, was stress, as part of the overall, Singapore model.
The result, is Singapore, becoming a deeply “Orwell 1984” type of society. As George Orwell said, basically, when the people become deeply into beers, sports and gambling, they become very easy to control. Singapore success, economically, literally, have turned the Singaporean people into “Sheeple.”
Sheeple is defined as people compared to sheep in being docile, foolish, or easily led. “Orwellian” is an adjective describing the situation, idea, or societal condition that George Orwell identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free and open society. Big Brother is an omnipresent, seemingly benevolent figure representing the oppressive control over individual lives exerted by an authoritarian government.
Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, wrote an analysis, titled: “Singapore Challenges the Idea That Democracy Is the Best Form of Governance.” Graham gave a long comparison, backed up by statistic, & also briefly, touch on human rights & freedom (significant & important governance issues) comparing, the positives & negatives, of USA and Singapore (see full article here).
However, the question on Singapore, has never been about “Is there something, better than liberal & open, Western Democracy” or about “Governance” in general but the question about Singapore, has always been, about:
“How long can Singapore, keep the deeply Orwellian 1984 system going.”
In any country, where the press is controlled to present the state view, dissent not allowed, and dissenters and activist, who challenge the system are punished, the population, basically, is not a real factor to consider, as they are mostly, volunteer to be “Sheeple.”
In Singapore, in fact, in the last election, dissent, made in-roads, despite the very “Big Brother” of Orwell 1984, been in power, since independence, teaching and re-enforcing the Singaporeans people, to be “Sheeple” when it comes to politics.
Graham concluded his analysis, with the following:
“Therefore, what? I am not yet ready to give up my belief that democracy is, as Churchill quipped, the worst form of government known to man, except for all the others. But when I stop to examine the facts about Singapore, I am left with more questions than answers. Is an open, competitive Western-style democracy required to deliver the life, liberty and happiness citizens want? As Singaporeans celebrate their 50th birthday and look to the decades ahead, can their current system of government continue to meet the customers’ demands? Will wealthier citizens not demand a greater role in governing themselves?”
“Is wide-open, American-style democracy with an unconstrained press a necessary prerequisite for sustainable delivery of life, liberty and happiness? Or is it instead another good thing in itself — independent of whether it contributes to or degrades life, liberty and happiness? Was Lee Kuan Yew correct in his belief that Mandarins (in the tradition of Plato’s philosopher kings) who put the public good above their personal interests are necessary for good governance? If so, will Singapore be able to sustain such high levels of talent and sacrifice in its public service? And is there something about the current practices in American democracy that make that less likely? As more Americans see D.C. as an acronym for “Dysfunctional Capital,” these are questions that deserve a rigorous debate.”