Singapore: does democracy work in Asia? Part 3 of 6

January 21, 2016

The People’s Action Party (PAP) of Singapore has been the dominant political party since 1959. The politics of Singapore take the form of a parliamentary republic and the Prime Minister is the head of the government.

The 2015 Singaporean general election was held on September 11th to form Singapore’s Parliament. The previous Parliament was dissolved on August 25, 2015 by President Tony Tanon on the advice of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and candidates were nominated on 1 September.

The 2015 election was the first since Singapore’s independence in 1965 which saw all seats contested. PAP won 83 of the 89 seats.

Singapore has been accused of being a social democracy. The Economist Intelligence Unit says Singapore is a “hybrid” country, with authoritarian and democratic elements. Freedom House does not consider Singapore an “electoral democracy” and ranks the country as “partly free”.

Reporters Without Borders ranked Singapore #136 of more than 178 countries listed in the 2010 Worldwide Press Freedom Index.

The ruling Party’s policies contain aspects of socialism as does mainland China, which includes government-owned public housing constituting the majority of real estate and the dominance of government controlled companies in the local economy.

For 31 years from 1959 to 1990, Lee Kuan Yew ruled Singapore as its prime minister. He died March 23, 2015. Imagine the United States with the same president and party in power for more than three decades.

Chinese make up 76.8 percent of the population and according to a comment left for another post, the Chinese mostly vote for the PAP keeping Lee Kuan Yew’s party in power.

The CIA says unemployment is 2.2% and there is no information from the World Bank, the CIA, the World Health Organization, or from  Global Edge on how many live in poverty in Singapore.

Mr. Biao.com says, “Singapore has no beggars, because they will be picked up by the police. … We have no poverty, because Singapore has no official poverty line.”

Continued with Thailand on January 22, 2015 with Part 4 or return to Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Discover three of Asia’s Republics–Singapore: Part 3 of 3

January 16, 2014

I’ve written about the Republic of Singapore before in The Reasons Why China is Studying Singapore.

Singapore is a model “republic” respected around the world. In fact, Singapore is tied for number one in the Corruption Perception Index for 2010 with a score much better than the U.S. Source: Transparency.org

Focus Singapore says, “It is interesting to note that Singapore laws are very strict with harsh punishments for smoking and littering in public places.”

For example, “A drug offence in Singapore can attract severe penalties including a death penalty.… Homosexual acts, including kissing between men, are illegal in Singapore and penalties include imprisonment.”

Human Rights Watch reports, “Singapore officials should cease using criminal defamation and contempt laws to silence government critics. … Free speech is an endangered species in Singapore.”

In fact, “Singapore remains the textbook example of a politically repressive state,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Individuals who want to criticize or challenge the ruling party’s hold on power can expect to face a life of harassment, lawsuits, and even prison.” Source: Human Rights Watch

But the Western media often ignore human rights violations in Singapore, because, “The United States has maintained formal diplomatic relations with Singapore since it became independent in 1965. Singapore’s efforts to maintain economic growth and political stability and its support for regional cooperation harmonize with U.S. policy in the region and form a solid basis for amicable relations between the two countries.”

About religion — “Singapore generally allows religious freedom, although religious groups are subject to government scrutiny, and some religious sects are restricted or banned. Almost all Malays are Muslim; other Singaporeans are Taoists, Buddhists, Confucianists, Christians, Hindus, or Sikhs.” Source: U. S. Department of State

Lee Kuan Yew, Prime Minister from 1959 to 1990, was the world’s longest serving prime minister and was elected seven times. His son Lee Hsien Loong has been Prime Minister since 2004. When he runs for office, there is no competition.

When examined closely, Singapore seems similar to China except for China’s policy that leaders may only serve two five-year terms and must retire at sixty-seven.

Return to Discover three of Asia’s Republics: Part 2 or start with Part 1, South Korea

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Making the Hajj from China: Part 1/2

May 27, 2013

This two-part post may come as a surprise to many in the West that think there is no religious freedom in China.

In fact, China handles religious freedom similar to how Singapore does, and Singapore is seldom if ever criticized in the Western media for this practice.

The U.S. Department of State says that Singapore’s government has broad powers to limit citizens’ rights and handicap political opposition, which it uses. One of those restrictions is a limited freedom of religion.

However, the Constitution for the Republic of Singapore offers the same fundamental liberties China and the US does, which includes freedom of speech, assembly and association and freedom of religion.

For example, Singapore bans the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Unification Church by making public meetings illegal. The Falun Gong has also had problems in Singapore.

China, on the other hand, recognizes five religions — Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism but has banned certain new religious movements that are considered cults. China does not recognize cults as religions.

In the video embedded with this post, Al Jazeera follows Chinese Muslims as they prepare to undertake the hajj pilgrimage.

The ancient city of Xian in Shaanxi province is home to about 60,000 ethnic Chinese Muslims.

Xian claims it has a Muslim history going back more than thirteen hundred years when Islam was first introduced to China in 650 AD.

In fact, the oldest mosque in China was built in 685-762 AD in Xian during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty.

Chinese Imam Ma Yi Ping speaks both Chinese and Arabic. He studied at the Islamic University of Medina and has made the hajj several times. He was taught to be a devout Muslim by his parents during Mao’s time when the mosques in China were closed.

Despite the persecutions that took place during the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976), Islam survived in China.

Ma Yi Ping says that after Mao and the Gang of Four were gone and China opened for trade with the world, he did not have to study the Quran in secret anymore.

Since the 15th century, Xian Muslims have been going to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

In the past, during the ancient days of the Silk Road, these journeys started and ended in Xian’s Muslim quarter. Today is no different.

Continued on May 28, 2013 in Making the Hajj from China: Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Jackie Chan’s Cultural Collections

February 4, 2013

If you enjoy watching films, you probably know who Jackie Chan is. However, outside China, many may not know he is a collector of Chinese cultural things such as rocks, old Chinese wood houses, wine, and ceramic tea cups and saucers.

Chan started acting in movies in 1962 and now has more than 100 films under his acting belt. You may remember Rush Hour 1 to 3 (1998 – 2007); The Karate Kid in 2010, and many others.  According to Celebrity Networth.com, Chan’s estimated net worth is $130 million.

What I didn’t know until my wife and daughter returned from China on New Year day 2013 was that Chan also has been building cultural collections for decades.

Jackie Chan magazine cover

In China, my wife bought a magazine that was exclusively about Jackie Chan’s life, film career, charitable giving and his collections.

one Jackie Chan ancient Chinese wooden structures

Asia One.com says, “Mr. Chan had started his collection (of older Chinese houses and wood structures) some 20 years ago. His collection currently comprises seven houses and an opera performing stage, dating from the Ming and Qing dynasties.”

Jackie Chan rock collection

Then as Chan aged, he became concerned that his collections survive after he is gone, so he is donating them to Singapore and Beijing.

Jackie Chan wine collection

Zee News.India.com reported, “Kung Fu movie legend Jackie Chan wants to donate historical Chinese houses worth more than 67 million US dollars to a university being set up in Singapore … Chan will give the campus seven wooden houses and a performing stage from his private collection …”

Jackie Chan china collection

From Asian Fanatics.net we learn that Chan’s “collecting passion was also influenced by his late father, who loved old Chinese wooden houses. Chan’s dad, Charlie, died … at the age of 93 after battling cancer. The star’s love of all things historical can be seen in his property purchases here. He owns the 105-year-old Jinriksha Station at 1 Neil Road, once the central depot for rickshaw drivers in Singapore, and the four-storey The 50s complex. Both are historic buildings within the Neil Road conservation area.”

If you live in the United States or Canada and are interested in this copy of the Jackie Chan magazine, leave a comment for this post letting me know, and I will hold a drawing March 2013, and then mail the magazine to the winner. If no one is interested, the magazine will be recycled.

Discover China’s Rising Film Industry

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The differences between Individualism and Collective Cultures – Part 3/5

December 19, 2012

When I wrote why China is studying Singapore, my goal was to show Westerners why China couldn’t model itself after an individualistic culture such as the United States.

It wouldn’t fit China’s culture.

Even Dr. Sun Yat-Sen – China’s Democratic Revolutionary, said any democracy in China would have to fit China’s culture saying, “An individual should not have too much freedom. A nation should have absolute freedom.”

Individualism promotes individual goals and encourages each person to express him or herself freely.  Each person is encouraged to be unique. Rules and laws attempt to ensure independence, choices and freedom of speech.

For example, in the US, there is no need to fit in or conform to the group or society.

Relying or being dependent on others is often seen as shameful, and people are encouraged to do things on their own, to rely on themselves. Source: Psychology – Collectivist and Individualist Cultures

However, James Surowiecki says, “We once accused the Japanese of being copycats and now we turn on the Chinese. But the truth is that we have all become imitators. … In many situations, collective decisions are better than individual ones.” Source: Co-Society.com

Continued on December 20, 2012 in Individualism and Collective Cultures – Part 4 or return to Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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