Academic Visitor Dr PJ Thum unpacks the common myths and misunderstandings surrounding Singapore, offering lessons for a post-Brexit Britain.
In a speech earlier this year, then-Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt extolled Singapore as a model for the UK post-Brexit. This idea has persisted throughout the Brexit campaign and the debate over the future direction of post-Brexit UK. Implicit in these models is a vision of Singapore as an economically liberal, “low-tax, low-spend, low-regulation” environment that appeals to many anxious over Brexit. This is underpinned by a myth of Singapore having successfully transformed itself from a small fishing village into a gleaming, modern, cosmopolitan, and prosperous society while uplifting its people from poverty into a country with one of the world’s highest per capita GDP.
But how accurate is this vision of Singapore? In this talk, Dr PJ Thum unpacks the common myths and misunderstandings surrounding Singapore, explains the economic, political, and social mechanisms used by the ruling People’s Action Party to achieve its aims, and offers potential lessons for a Britain searching for its role in post-Brexit world.
Dr Pingtjin Thum is a Singaporean historian, and founder and Managing Director of New Naratif, a movement for democracy, freedom of expression, and freedom of information in Southeast Asia. As civil rights activists, he and his colleagues have been threatened, harassed, and condemned as traitors by Singapore’s government. Dr Thum earned his DPhil in History from Oxford in 2011 and is currently an Academic Visitor at Hertford College. His academic work centres on decolonisation in Southeast Asia, and its continuing impact on Southeast Asian governance and politics. His most recent published work is “Independence: The Further Stage of Colonialism in Singapore” in Barr and Rahim (eds.), The Limits of Authoritarian Governance in Singapore’s Developmental State (Palgrave, 2019).
The talk will take place in the Old Library at Hertford College.
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