The Singapore state revisited

Natasha Hamilton-Hart

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    83 Citations (Scopus)


    Singapore's governing elite is less bureaucractic and less separated from private interests than commonly thought. The bureaucracy has little independent strength and the political leadership is entwined with leading members of the business community, particularly the financial sector, to the point that the line between public and private is frequently indistinct. Given that democratic or interest-group constraints are minimal, transparency low and the rule of law in doubt, why Singapore's activist economic policies have not decayed into a search for private rewards is rather puzzling. This article argues that Singapore's record of sound government rests on informal governing institutions as well as attributes of the formal government sector. The informal institutions encompass nominally public and private actors in a systematized way, structuring the incorporation of private actors to embed the values of performance-based merit and working with, not against, government. The system of government is, however, fragile and may be showing signs of decay.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)195-216
    Number of pages22
    JournalPacific Review
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2000


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