Disavowing Liberalism: Evolution of the Political Economy of the PAP Regime by Prof Chua Beng Huat
Date : 14 Sep 2017
Time : 16:00 - 17:30
Venue : Asia Research Institute, Seminar Room
AS8 Level 4, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
National University of Singapore @ KRC

This event is jointly organized by Asia Research Institute, and Singapore Research Nexus at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore.


Assoc Prof Greg Clancey, Asia Research Institute, and Tembusu College, National University of Singapore


Since the 2008 global recession, the globally hegemonic liberal democratic capitalism has been in ideological and practical crisis: government bailout of financial industry shows that the state is the last resort for saving capitalism; anti-globalisation of capitalism turns into anti-immigration and xenophobia, the much touted liberal cultural tolerance turns into Islamophobia. The crisis opens up space for emergence of old and new alternative ideologies to liberalism. So far, it has most prominently given rise to extreme right-wing political sentiments in Europe and America. The left appears still unable to seize the opportunity to reassert and claim its ideological space. Yet, socialism as a critique of capitalism remains an important and valuable idea that should not be discarded along with the failures of the European and Soviet socialist economies. Ironic as it may seems, I will argue that it is the institutionalization of the ‘socialist’ elements in the early years of the People’s Action Party as a social democratic government and the subsequent evolution of these elements that accounts largely for its longevity in parliamentary power, rather than continuing authoritarianism. It is also this social democratic beginning that all subsequent generation of PAP leaders evoke in their ideological disavowal of liberalism.


Chua Beng Huat is Acting Head of Studies, Urban Studies at the Yale-NUS College, Singapore. Professor Chua received his PhD from York University, Canada. He has previously served as Provost Chair Professor, Faculty of Arts and Social Science (2009-2017), Research Leader, Cultural Studies in Asia Cluster, Asia Research Institute (2000-2015); Convenor of Cultural Studies Programmes (2008-2013) and Head of Department of Sociology (2009-2015), National University of Singapore. His publications on the society and political economy of Singapore include: The Golden Shoe: Building Singapore’s Financial District (1989), Communitarian Ideology and Democracy in Singapore (1995), Political Legitimacy and Housing: Stakeholding in Singapore (1997), Life is Not Complete without Shopping (2003), Liberalism Disavowed: Communitarianism and State Capitalism in Singapore (2017), and as editor, Singapore Studies II: Critical Studies (1999). Beyond Singapore writings, he has edited several volumes on cultural politics in Asia, including Consumption in Asia: Lifestyles and Identities (2000)Communitarian Politics in Asia (2004), Elections as Popular Culture in Asia (2007). He is founding co-executive editor of the journal Inter-Asia Cultural Studies.


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Contact Person(s)
Valerie YEO