The Loving Critics Have Votes, What They Want Is Voice

While recent events have triggered concerns over democracy and fundamental freedoms in Singapore, Seow Yongzhi argues that these debates conflate the terms “democracy” and “liberalism”. Democracies, as Yongzhi points out, can be highly illiberal. Instead, what Singaporeans want is not necessarily democracy, but liberty – the right to voice their disagreements.

Read more

A Historical Perspective on Singapore-China Relations: 1965-1975

In this research paper, Katherine Enright argues that Singapore-China relations from 1965-1975 can best be understood not merely as a bilateral relationship, but as one situated in a complex web of international political dynamics, both in relation to Cold War powers (the US and the USSR) and Southeast Asia. Singapore’s pragmatic foreign policy outlook – one that prioritised economic security and the balancing of international and regional powers – in turn influenced Singapore’s engagement with China and its reaction to broader Cold War dynamics. Ultimately, the confluence of these factors contributed to a dramatic warming in Singapore-China relations during this period.

Read more

Imagining Utopias: The Importance of Moral Idealism in Singapore

“It is tempting to believe that the cynic is, somehow, more intelligent than the dreamer. But in truth, pragmatism is no smarter than idealism.” Lee Chin Wee argues that, in discussions about Singapore’s future, we should leave room at the table for idealists and dreamers. In his view, it is a mistake to treat the government’s growth-oriented and metrics-focused narrative of pragmatism as gospel truth. When Singaporeans present and grapple with competing visions of the ‘good’, this strengthens social inclusion and improves policy-making.

Read more

In Defence of Protest Culture

Protests have a bad rep in Singapore. Framed by the state as violent, divisive, and a threat to stability, protests are deliberately discouraged, largely disallowed, and when permitted, heavily controlled. Poh Yong Han make a case for encouraging “protest culture” in Singapore by responding to common criticisms of protest culture, and outlining the ways in which protests might actually serve to strengthen Singapore.

Read more

The Limitations of Subject-Based Banding: What About Single-Stream Schools?

Much of the debate on MOE’s recent moves to integrate schoolmates of different academic streams via Subject-Based Banding (SBB) has focused on whether SBB will be effective, or what the implementation of SBB will look like. However, one underdiscussed aspect of MOE’s policy change is its lack of impact on single-stream schools. Izzah Haziqah Haris explores why this is a problem, and potential policy options to deal with this issue.

Read more

Love, Labour, and Loss: Decoding the ‘Migrant Worker’

‘Migrant workers’ is the typical term used to describe migrants who work in Singapore. But they are far more than just workers defined by their labour. Theophilus Kwek argues that we should move beyond the simple trope of ‘migrant workers’ in our discourse on migrant issues, as a first step to seeing them as people whose lives are just as full and fraught as our own, and treating them accordingly.

Read more

Golden Mile Complex: Not Just Another Space

Golden Mile Complex is a Brutalist building facing potential demolition after its owners agreed to a collective sale attempt – much to the dismay of many in Singapore. Most news coverage, however, focuses on its architectural importance to Singapore’s heritage. But it plays an important social role, too, for Thai migrants. In this long-form research paper, Al Lim explores Golden Mile, and investigates the effect of its potential destruction on the Thai migrant community in Singapore.

Read more

Can the Migrant Speak?: Migrant Worker Poetry and the Art of Advocacy in Singapore

A humane society cares for all of its members, whether they are citizens or not. But in today’s world, rights are often tied to citizenship. Poh Yong Han explores the options for migrant worker advocacy in Singapore, focusing on the potential power of the arts in bringing about positive change.

Read more

“Elite” and “Neighbourhood” Schools: Exploring School Names and Social Hierarchies

Tay Hong Yi examines the psychology behind the “elite” and “neighbourhood” school labels, exploring the link between school names and the prestige associated with “elite” schools. He argues that school names play a role in entrenching educational stratification and have become an indicator of social hierarchy – and that reframing the discussion this way can facilitate more targeted education policy design.

Read more

Measuring with the Heart: How We See and Speak About Inequality

Amidst the ongoing debate on how Singapore’s Government responds to inequality-related issues, Theophilus Kwek points to misalignments between the policy lens of the technocratic state, and the naked human eye through which its constituents must view the same issues. He argues that we must go beyond purely data-driven perspectives of inequality, and include street-view perspectives in policy considerations too.

Read more

Expanding The Value Proposition For The SAF and Home Team

Since its establishment, the National Service (NS) institution has helped Singapore to maintain its security through military and civil defense. To increase the value proposition of NS in peacetime, Ng Paul Seen explores ways to enhance the nation-building aspect of NS, through a more holistic conception of the institution that includes individual development.

Read more

Disrupting National Service Policy: An Alternative for Ben Davis and Singapore

Ben Davis should be allowed to disrupt or defer National Service, writes Brendan Dean. That this will not be allowed under current policy shows that the policy should be changed, to recognise the dynamics of team sports and the contributions to national spirit that having Singaporeans on the world athletic stage makes. The supposed choice between duty and talent development is a false dichotomy.

Read more