The fallacy of Singaporean exceptionalism

Opinion  |  Nathaniel Tan
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | What are the real lessons that Singapore should be learning from BN and GE14?

A few weeks ago, former Singapore Tourism Board director Ho Kwon Ping spoke at a forum and confidently declared:

"It is not the absence of full democratic institutions, it is not the absence of full human rights or the putting down of dissent, nor the presence of paternalistic governance which brings down a government, or has brought down the (previous) Malaysian government.

"It is the unbridled, egregiously blatant and massively enormous corruption of the (former prime minister) Najib Abdul Razak's government which brought him down."

Ho’s confidence was mildly amusing. I don’t imagine he has spent much time working in politics here in Malaysia and yet, he seems very sure of this fact.

I’m not going to be the one person in the world who claims to accurately know exactly how all the factors ranked in creating the results we saw in GE14.

However, I think I’ve worked in and on Malaysian politics long enough to suggest that Ho’s analysis may be informed more by a desire to maintain the same old, tired status quo in Singapore than it is by an accurate understanding of Malaysian politics.

I will not make the same mistake of assuming I know everything there is to know about Singaporean politics...

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