Here is my proposal for a focus group on "Democracy in Singapore", for the Ethics Fellow for the Future program. I look forward to the feedback anyone may have.
Focus Group on “Democracy in Singapore”
“Authoritarian democracy” – that is the label some have for the state of democracy in Singapore. Singapore has established an international presence for its rapid economic development within a short history, but it is less admired for its lacklustre performance in terms of democratic reforms. According to founding father Lee Kuan Yew, “political reform need not go hand in hand with economic liberalisation”, but this conviction of the long-time leader of ruling party People’s Action Party (PAP) may not be shared amongst Singaporeans today. Consolidation of decision-making power in a single ruling party may have been effective in building foundations for economic development, but the 2011 Parliamentary General Elections have shown that perhaps Singaporeans want more than that now. Not only did the conversations indicate increasing dissatisfaction with the ruling party, the fact that these conversations were taking place on social media platforms narrowed the influence that state-run media had on public opinion. Alternative news sources and opposition parties had a voice in online spaces that the state and its ruling party had significantly less control over. That elections saw the ruling party’s power visibly shaken, an outcome attributed to the increasing power of social media led by a more technologically savvy and connected younger generation. Not only has the freedom of press been of increasing concern, issues surrounding the mandatory death penalty for drug offences and homosexuality have been gaining prominence in civil society debate.
This focus group aims to study the state of democracy in Singapore, specifically on whether democratic reforms are desired and how they are prioritised by Singaporeans today, and the outlook of such a change being led by the younger generation of voters today.