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Singapore's Authoritarian Capitalism

by Dr. Christopher Lingle


Dr. Lingle began research for this book during his fellowship at the National University of Singapore. Lingle's Singapore visit came to an abrupt halt after he wrote a response to a previously published editorial comment that appeared in the International Herald Tribune. In his article, Lingle inferred that some regimes in East Asia are able to thwart criticism by relying on a compliant judiciary. Within two weeks he had been interrogated repeatedly by police detectives - which prompted him to resign his position, flee the country and seek refuge in the USA with nothing more than his overnight bag and notebook computer. The Singapore government seized his property in Singapore and sentenced him to jail in absentia.

In March, 1996 Mr. Lee Kuan Yew's lawyer urged the High Court of Singapore to order Lingle to pay substantially more than $300,000 in damages for libelling the Senior Minister. Justice S. Rajendran handed down a $70,000 judgment against Lingle.

Dr. Lingle comments: "I am not surprised by the Singapore judge's ruling. I guess the courts didn't see the irony in the judgment against me. As far as I can see it, the judgement vindicates me and supports the criticism that Singapore's rulers use a compliant judiciary to bankrupt their critics .. whether they are the political opposition or news media or foreign nationals."

Dr. Lingle has held university professorships all over the globe including the continents of Asia, Africa, Europe and America.

In his book, Dr. Lingle identifies Singapore's "authoritarian capitalism" as combining a selective degree of economic freedom and private property rights with strong-armed control over political life. According to him, political loyalty is the ultimate determinant of success rather than the efficient utilization of resources, and sycophantic business relations replace the growth-inducing actions of true entrepreneurs. Singapore's Authoritarian Capitalism questions the long-term survival of the People's Action Party (PAP) and its capacity to sustain Singapore's "miracle" growth record due to internal contradictions arising from the imposed institutional arrangements.