Living with Distant Masters
Afterword: Hong Kong in comparative view
AbstractBeijing has looked to Singapore as an example for Hong Kong. At the core of the comparison is a substantive characterization: that the Singapore state-elite is technically proficient; that the Singapore state-elite is a-political and pragmatically focused on the pursuit of economic growth; that the Singapore state-elite has authoritatively imposed discipline on the population and has created the conditions for economic success and popular contentment; and that the population of Singapore is a-political, as it is either unconcerned with politics or content with material advance. Or in sum, a highly skilled benevolent elite has provided an acquiescent mass with good lives. Unfortunately this misreads the post-independence experience of the polity of Singapore: the city-state is not a-political; rather it is a politically mobilized society. The core work of the PAP has been the pursuit of national development, and the PAP has received popular democratic support; that is, Singapore has held regular competitive liberal-democratic style elections – and the population have supported the PAP. The PAP enjoys both performance and formal electoral legitimacy. Implementing this model in Hong Kong would require granting the population of the territory a direct voice in its political affairs – one that Beijing seems unwilling to allow.
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