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In a recently published Straits Times op-ed titled Meritocracy and how to manage its downsides, veteran journalist Chua Mui Hoong reopened the evergreen debate on meritocracy in Singapore (Chua’s well-written piece quickly provoked a thoughtful response from NUS Professor Ben Leong).

Why is meritocracy such a big deal in Singapore? Local discussions of meritocracy are rooted in a unique context due to the heavy credit and emphasis the PAP government has historically placed on “merit” for guiding its public policy. There is no shortage of quotes and policy examples to showcase this, but for non-Singaporean readers, I will supply just two here. …


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The best book I’ve read in 2020 is without a doubt Huang Yasheng’s 2008 “Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics”. I credit Adam Martin for turning me on to it as an assigned paper in a Free Market Institute class that I had the privilege to attend in 2018 but never got around to reading the full book until my co-author Bryan Cheang reminded me of it recently. This is a book on the history of China’s post-communism economic growth. …


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An image of a Singapore Armed Forces outfield training

I find much of Singapore’s public policy praiseworthy. I’ve written a book about it. But one big exception are its conscription policies, which is perhaps its most draconian yet rarely talked about.

Jailing people for doing drugs is deplorable. But conscription is far worse. At least with drugs, there is some element of free choice involved. You knew the laws, yet you did it anyway. You should’ve known better. Conscription on the other hand, does not give avail you a choice. If activated for war, there is a very real risk of death or at best, permanent injury. …


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At a recent Singapore Tech Forum, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong lauded LGBT individuals as “valued members of society”. PM Lee’s comments quickly drew the ire of the local LGBT community across social media (see Kyle Malinda-White’s commentary here) for an obvious reason: the Singapore government’s attitude towards gay and lesbian people has always been one of reluctance. At best, moderated acceptance. As reported in Bloomberg:

“These things shift, but we have to give them time,” Lee said during a question-and-answer session at the Singapore Tech Forum, where he used a keynote address to promote the country to the industry. …


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Source

Local environmentalists have a tendency to go overboard in their accusations of the PAP government when it comes to the environment. The image being painted in the popular media of the government is that it has largely neglected environmental preservation at the expense of unbridled economic growth.

Yet, a cursory study of the history of Singapore’s environmental policy and you will find this narrative to be largely without basis. In truth, the government has long committed to environmental efforts since the city-state’s independence. And it has performed relatively well.

The general approach Singapore has taken can be summarised as such:

A pro-growth long term investment strategy in energy-efficient infrastructure that deploys the use of free market mechanisms to phase out environmental harmful practices, as opposed to hard-handed carbon taxes and outright bans. …


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Football hooligans

Broadly speaking, Singapore’s politics is dominated by two distinct groups of political hooligans.

The PAP IB hooligans

The first are the pro-PAP hooligans, or what is sometimes referred as the “PAP Internet Brigade” in derogatory fashion. These guys believe in an abstract form of Singaporean “exceptionalism”, where the bedrock of this belief is Singapore’s rapid ascendancy along the road to riches from developing to developed status.

They tend to revere Lee Kuan Yew to the point of being a demigod, and gloss over the PAP’s early authoritarian tendencies as “necessary” with very little knowledge of the countries that have descended into dictatorships in the absence of democratic checks and balances. …


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I’ve always been generally critical of the opposition parties, and a lot of my friends (and haters) tend to stereotype me as a diehard PAP voter.

In fact, and some of my older friends know this, I used to be a bit of a CSJ fanboy. I remember reading “A Nation Cheated” back in the day and thinking his books were like the Holy Grail. I even wrote articles defending him in his 2016 by-election.

My views have obviously changed drastically since then. If you ask me today, I would argue that his policy platform is terrible. …


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Singapore’s 2020 General Elections are in full swing. Brought to the forefront of the conversation again is the minimum wage policy that has been soundly rejected over the years by the PAP, while continuously being championed by parties on the opposition.

For instance, the minimum wage has been heavily pushed by the latest darling of the Internet, Dr. Jamus Lim, a newcomer in the Worker’s Party. His charismatic and down-to-earth manner has won much public support. He also boasts a stellar background in economics that his fans have been rapidly reproducing across social media.

Unfortunately, economists rarely remain economists when they step into politics. The Nobel Laureate Keynesian economist Paul Krugman made such a famous U-turn on his views on the minimum wage, going from condemning it in 1998 to endorsing it in 2015. …


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Singapore’s Khoo Teck Puat Hospital which has won international design awards

Economists and politicians have long marvelled at Singapore’s healthcare system as one of the best in the world. As per the Bloomberg Health Care Efficiency Index, Singaporean healthcare has a high quality output and is widely accessible while most importantly remaining affordable, ranking out at an outstanding second in the world, only outnumbered by Hong Kong.

Nor does this healthcare system come at huge expense of the taxpayer. World Bank data shows that Singapore’s government health expenditure in 2015 is only 4.3 percent of GDP, a small fraction in comparison to other first-world countries — 16.9 percent in the US; 11 percent in France; 9.9 percent in the UK; 10.9 percent in Japan, and 7.1 …


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My article “The Dangerous Influence of Chinese Privilege in Singapore” has gotten quite a bit of traction in the past week. I’ll leave some of the criticisms to my article here and here for the reader’s own judgment.

Although the majority of my article was dedicated to public policy, most of the criticism I’ve read by the social media mobs had very little interest in policy and far more on personal insults and attacks based on my race. (looking at you zoomers on Twitter)

Whatever. Here are some brief responses to the most common objections.

Objection 1: Racism exists in Singapore. Your statistics doesn’t mean anything.

Suppose you had one million dollars to donate. You want to create as much humanitarian impact as possible. People die everyday from all kinds of man-made and natural causes everyday. Where to donate? Maybe you think that global terrorism is a serious threat and that the money would be well-spent in counter-terrorism efforts. …

About

Donovan Choy

Classical liberal. I love the Wu-Tang Clan, Spaghetti Westerns and anything Aly & Fila.

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