The Protection of Administration (Justice) Bill

During a recent trip to China, I was thumbing through Jothie Rajah's excellent book – Authoritarian Rule of Law: Legislation, Discourse, and Legitimacy in Singapore. By examining case studies ranging from the Vandalism Act to the Public Order Act, Rajah forcefully argues her thesis that "the Singapore state (has reconfigured) the profoundly liberal concept of …

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Should we keep the death penalty? There are no easy answers.

I'm surprised at how almost everyone on my social media feed has come out so firmly against the death penalty. I respect this view, but I feel that there are no easy answers. Despite my liberal bent, it's hard to justify why someone like mass murderer Anders Breivik deserves a second chance. There exists a certain …

How Should We Develop Potential and Broaden Aspirations?

Education is such a thorny issue. Ask any three Singaporeans what they think about the current system, and you’ll walk away with four opinions. It’s easy to rehash platitudes like “every school is a good school”, but does “good” even mean? Does it mean “every school is good, but some schools are better”? Or “every …

My Thoughts on Reviewing the Elected Presidency

Last month, a Constitutional Commission was appointed to review the Elected Presidency scheme. As part of the ongoing process of evaluation and deliberation, members of the public have been invited to provide written submissions to the Secretariat. There were three areas of particular interest: (i)       The qualifying process for candidacy for the Elected …

On Public Morality, Political Capital, and Adultery

Let’s begin from an obvious premise: that despite its experience and political adroitness, the PAP has a limited amount of political capital. Both the 2011 General Election and the Punggol East by-election demonstrated that the PAP cannot simply bulldoze unpopular legislation like laissez-faire immigration policy without expecting significant pushback from the silent majority. However, because …

The Revised NCMP Scheme – Political Liberalisation or More of the Same?

At first blush, the recent revisions to the Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) scheme seem decidedly liberal. In the unlikely event of a complete electoral wipe-out, the political opposition stands to receive 12 instead of 9 NCMP seats. And now that NCMPs have the same voting rights as regular MPs, it would stand to reason that we …

Democracy and the Elected Presidency

Rumour has it that the government could soon review the elected presidential system. Various adjustments and alternatives have been touted by political observers and legislators alike – from tightening the already-stringent nomination criteria, to bypassing the electorate altogether and having Parliament directly appoint a President. This wouldn’t surprise me. Ever since gaining power, the PAP has …