Term Paper: Singapore, Nationalism, Global City

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[. . .] The norms in Confucian teachings were redefined as:

Loyalty-identification with country's interest

Filial piety- respect for elderly

Benevolence- humaneness


Virtue- social ethics

Honesty- resistance from corruption

Sense of shame- awareness of right and wrong (Tamir, 1993)

Political Structure of Singapore as 'Global City':

Since its independence on 9th August 1965 People's Action Party has dominated the political structure of Singapore. In the initial years People's Action Party have been devoted to the deal with communists but in the recent decades it has found its governance in the social democratic system. In the regime of People's Action Party (PAP) Singapore had the power structure which had been characterized as authoritarian, practical, lucid and legalistic.

The administrative structure of the Singapore political system can be defined as bureaucratic rather than democratic. All the appointments are made on meritocracy where authority and power of governance is given on the basis of skill, performance and loyalty to the nation. The authorities cascade down from top to the bottom level and the economic development and political stability is maintained through the guidance of PAP.

There are also three main opposition parties-

1. The Worker's Party- WP

2. The Singapore Democratic Party- SDP

3. The Singapore Democratic Alliance- SDA

The active parties of Singapore are:

1. Democratic progressive Party

2. National Solidarity Party

3. People's Liberal Democratic Party

4. Worker's Party

5. Singapore's People's Party

6. Singapore Justice Party

7. Singapore National Front

The ministries and organs of Singapore are governed and managed by the Civil service through its important commission 'The Public Service Commission' (PSC). The PSC is responsible to appoint, confirm, promote, transfer, dismiss and take any disciplinary action to control and monitor public officers. Singapore with the diversity and pluralism in racial and religious elements believes in the fair treatment of all and consider its primary duty to provide equal opportunity to its population in education, healthcare and housing. The minority groups are also given assurance of equal representation in the parliament through the system of Group Representation Constituency. The prevalence of the dominant role of government in the local economy has no way affected the transparency of the system. Instead government has been an active contributor in the economic development, social justice and maintenance of plurality in the society.

Singapore Controversy-Democracy without Freedom:

Singapore has been criticized for the ironical situation of being 'democratic without freedom'. The political structure of democracy within the region also hold true with this statement to some extent. Since its independence Singapore has always been ruled by one party that is People's Action Party- PAP. The amalgamation of authoritarianism in the democratic structure of Singapore is mainly because of the regions inheritance of the Chinese culture. The dominance of the Chinese culture is due to the population strength that accounts for 70% of the total population. This has imposed Confucius socio-political ethics in the society through which patriarchy and hierarchy have influenced Singapore's socio-political value system.

The patriarchal system of Singapore is structured by the absolute role of government in the power and authority of the political system. Government takes active part in structuring cultural values, religious rights and rituals and takes corrective measures if any of such activity is observed which is not in favor of the national interest. Singapore government strongly believes in the ruling system governed by the notion of creme de la creme of the society.

However, the strict law enforcement system doesn't hinder in bringing about change in the country for its advancement. Government has always tried to work on the political stability. Therefore it has always provided opportunity to the leaders belonging from the meritocratic backgrounds possessing reasonable skills and knowledge to govern the country irrespective of their ethnic background, culture and creed.

Evidence against the nationalism

Singapore is known as a diverse nation. Unlike any other country for example Germany whose citizens believe themselves to be German, the people of Singapore believe themselves to be a part of one of the four background races in Singapore. These four races have separate color, creed, religion, language and other aspects. In the presence of these diverse races it is not possible to have the concept of nationalism in Singapore. Apart from this the country is surrounded by sixty different islets, so the country is not even a geographically one solid bloc of land. There is high influx of foreigners in Singapore which further makes it difficult to incorporate the phenomenon of nationalism in the country.

Cosmopolitanism and National Identification in Singapore Political Culture:

There have been several views on cosmopolitanism and national identity in political sciences. One such view according to Michael Keith is that 'if the cosmopolitan is to represent a normative vision of the future, the city is to be its empirical realization' (Keith, 2005: 22). Thus the cosmopolitan vision has been associated with urban civilization since long. It is considered to be the city open to global interactions, associations, flows and conditions that serve various kinds of people sharing their ideas and concepts. Therefore in the recent development of civilization cosmopolitanism is related to the endurance of urban spaces. In the geographical context of cosmopolitanism, there are two prominent views that have studied on the issue Ash Amin and Doreen Massey. They both have supported the concept of 'relational politics of place' that encourages wide geographical concern. Similarly, another view has been brought up by Amin who has expanded the discussion on 'politics of propinquity'. This concept necessitates the 'negotiating the immanent effects of geographical juxtaposition' (Amin, 2004: 39). On the way of nation's attitudes towards the concept of cosmopolitanism and nationalism he further suggest that for achieving its optimum outcome it demands an ethnic care and 'mutual regard towards those unlike us' (Amin 2006: 1017). Similar researches have been done by Keith, Ulrick Beck and Binnie through their books on Cosmopolitan vision and Cosmopolitan Urbanism.

Singapore is the home of diverse group of people. Immigrants have travelled to Singapore for employment, investment, domestic reasons, better education, better standard of living etc. thus they all have their own logical reasons behind dwelling in Singapore. With this cultural mix Singapore has become a 'global city'. It has also been a political concern for the country to survive with such diverse group of people and have sustainable economic development. The former Prime Minister Mr. Lee Kuan Yew have always wanted the nation to be tough and resilient to face the challenges imposed by the cultural, social and political dynamics of the society. Singapore has always been confronted with the dilemma of achieving national unity within this diversity and grows economically with the nationalism perspective. Various literatures have been evolved to rationalize the multi-faced environment and influence it towards national unity.

To cope with the challenge of diversity, cosmopolitism and national identity Singapore has taken the approach of open-mindedness. According to them the country can't progress if it confines its thinking to the national borders. In the initial years of its inception when Chinese cultural heritage had a greater influence on their value system, Singapore was considered as 'insular' with narrowed vision of global economic union and interaction. With the advancement of the business sector, financial sector and technological sector it has gained huge economic growth and became receptive to the international interference in the economy. Although, it has always been governed by the central state and have strong conviction on the authoritarian structure of politics, its leaders on the other hand have always been receptive to change and advancement in the society where every individual is given a chance to contribute towards the common goal of 'national progress'.

To have friendly association with the international front the nation has also engaged in various trade associations through international trade bodies. It has tried to keep a balance between the national growth and advance through global competition and moving not with the time but ahead of the time. This is why the country have tried to take advantage of the skills and capabilities of its intellectual property from diverse backgrounds and considered 'pluralism' as a strength for economic development rather than a hindrance to it.


Singapore with its pluralistic socio-political system has emerged as a 'global city'. This has posed various pressures on the economy and political framework of the region. Its cosmopolitanism and nationalism structure had always been taken advantage of the diverse territorial integration of its population and has enabled the country to rank high in the business and economy on the international level. The political structure is based on the meritocracy where appointments are based on the bureaucratic structure of hiring through skills, knowledge, experience and loyalty of the member towards the nation rather than the voting system which can give undue advantage to the majority group of the society leaving the minor sector… [END OF PREVIEW]

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