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Why Hong Kong can never copy Singapore’s ‘dictatorship’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 July, 2018, 6:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 July, 2018, 7:48pm

I would be gobsmacked if the Hong Kong government succeeds in copying Singapore’s style of “dictatorship”, as some commentators are accusing it of doing (“If Singapore is now Hong Kong’s political role model, will it also inspire housing policy?”, July 13)

After all, the Lion City’s “police state” is most unconventional and unique – one that is tailored specifically to its evolving needs and circumstances, and not for wholesale dissemination.

Where in the world can Mr Albert Cheng find a totalitarian political system which guarantees fresh general elections every five years or so, for all eligible Singaporeans to choose their members of parliament (MPs) from various political parties to form the next government? And, unlike in many of the world’s leading democracies, voting is compulsory in Singapore.

Every single seat in the legislature was contested in the last general elections, some by as many as four parties. Yet, time and again, the majority of voters pick the incumbent People’s Action Party to lead the country. Such affinity for a party – which has delivered most of its electoral promises over the years – in open elections has, however, rubbed hard core human rights activists the wrong way.

Hong Kong is not Singapore, don’t believe ‘dictatorship’ hype

These critics continue to begrudge Singaporeans their right to decide for themselves, by repeatedly harping on their boring, predictable and overbearing “one-party dictatorship”.

Must democracy wear only a certain face, such as the chipping and changing of government every electoral cycle, or the throwing of missiles and other violent antics to express filibustering disapproval, as seen in the legislatures of Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea?

Stop comparing Hong Kong to Singapore; it’s pointless

In fact, one can argue that Hong Kong’s style of democracy is as unconventional and unique as Singapore’s style of dictatorship.

Nowhere in the world can one experience a democracy where universal suffrage remains elusive other than in Asia’s self-styled global city. Contrast this with Singaporean politics, where a bill has been passed to allocate more seats to opposition members via the “non-constituency MP scheme” – reserved for the best losing candidates – after the next general elections, on top of a “nominated MP scheme” whereby Singaporeans with no party affiliation can apply to lend their independent expertise to discussions in the House.

How Carrie Lam has become an empress

Political pundits like Mr Cheng can rest assured that it will not hurt their credibility to try and get up to speed with the scope and scale of political developments in Singapore for their diatribes.

John Chan, Singapore