The Culture Mandala, Volume 6 No 2, Copyright © Rachel Caoili 2004-2005


Reflections on Democracy and Development in Southeast Asia:

Why do the Philippines and Singapore differ?

By Rachel Caoili(1)


The following discussion is motivated by an interest in the disparities of democracy and development in Asia. Personal experience and academic research in the circumstances of the Philippines and Singapore have highlighted the critical influence of political culture in the success of a nation. One need only consider how the Philippines has been an American platform of democracy in Asia, yet it remains a developing country with entrenched inequalities and poverty. On the other hand, Singapore – with its own home-grown communitarian culture - advocates certain values opposed to Western liberal democracy and has become one of the world’s most advanced industrial countries in less than half a century. It appears that a particular political culture supporting success in Singapore contrasts with Western liberal values still promising socio-economic progress in the Philippines.

I Democracy and Development

Democracy tends to be measured by citizenship participation, electoral competition and civil liberties. Yet existing representative democracies in Asia are not functioning as intended as the developing world still struggles to achieve socio-political stability and sustainable economic growth. In explaining the relationship between democracy and development, Herbert Werlin highlights two important questions:

  1. the question of priority: Is economic development essential for democracy or vice versa?; and
  2. the question of definition: Is liberal democracy the only acceptable form of democracy? (2)

Research reveals that "while economic development often precipitates democracy, democracy does not automatically lead to economic development."(3) It is emphasised that economic development is necessary, though not sufficient, for democratisation.(4) Regardless, the more prosperous a nation is, the greater the chances that it will sustain democracy.(5)

In the symbiotic relationship between democracy and development, democracies accompanied by liberalised markets provide the engine for growth. This is because decentralisation of political power and market liberalisation contribute to producer confidence, initiative, investment, and growth.(6) Ultimately, however, it is domestic stability that attracts capital and stimulates growth. Nations that have been able to create political stability have been able to grow much faster than those that could not, regardless of the type of political regime.(7) Democracy and economic growth are further linked through democracy's emphasis on the provision of literacy, education, and communication. Moreover, democracies resolve social conflict through non-violent political solutions; therefore, democratic regimes tend to be more politically resilient than authoritarian regimes where stability is often short-lived and violently managed.(8) Essentially, democracy indirectly affects economic growth through influencing a country’s political stability and corresponding investment appeal.

In order to understand the discourse on democracy and development, it is important to distinguish that classical democracy is arguably more essential than liberal democracy. The former is based on the Athenian concept of community, political education in civic virtue, and recognition of a shared fate; while the latter is based on the idea that the individual is the core consideration of humanity. The modern West’s fundamental tenet of individual self-fulfilment within a democratic framework contrasts with the ‘economic miracles’ and continuing resilience of East Asian countries, embedded as they often are in Confucian social ethics. The experience of democracy in Asia has allowed for political systems to feature patron-client Communitarianism, personalism, deference to authority, dominant political parties, and a strong interventionist state.(9) Nevertheless, Communitarian political culture alongside good governance has been and continues to be a crucial element in the successful economic progress of Singapore. Indeed, democracy is experienced differently across nations. As Samuel Huntington aptly emphasises: the prevalence of modernisation does not substantiate widespread acceptance of Westernisation.(10)

The Asian Experience

Asia’s modernisation experience provides a rich field for examples of the corruptive reputation of power, as elites have become the notorious practitioners of ‘crony capitalism’ and nepotism at the cost of national productivity. Prior to the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, it was questionable whether countries in Southeast Asia that had adopted liberal economic standards would follow through with political reform.(11) The Asian crisis highlighted the need for accountable governance and transparent institutions. While liberal democratic reform has gradually become evident across contemporary Southeast Asia, Singapore displays the least change towards a liberal democratic political system, (12) and yet was rated by Transparency International in 2001 as the world’s least corrupt country.(13) Indeed, the globalisation phenomenon tends to reward countries with good economic governance and disadvantage those with poor economic governance: "The more expert governments were in directing the national economy toward developmental goals then the more likely there would be sustained economic growth and relative equality in distribution of resources." (14) Concurrently, good governance is defined by the Asian Development Bank as the manner in which power is exercised in managing a country's social and economic resources towards development.(15)

National development is much dependent upon the quality of a nation’s human capital. A country's policies toward education, opening the economy to foreign trade, land reform, and government intervention in the economic growth process tend to determine economic growth more than democracy.(16) The success of Singapore and other Newly Industrialised Economies of East Asia questions the view that democratisation is a political conditionality for foreign aid and economic success. Arguably, it is strong government leadership managing economic progress rather than democracy that is necessary for economic development. Thus, Singapore is an exceptional example demonstrating how communitarian ideology and strong leadership implement good governance, resulting in economic prosperity and political stability. In outstanding contrast, a country such as the Philippines, a consolidated liberal democracy with a vibrant civil society has no legacy of good governance and is still awaiting economic renaissance. While this contrast is developed in section II, below is a summary by way of introduction.

The Philippines

Christianity from the West rather than Confucianism from China shaped the Philippines in terms of social values. As the Philippines struggles toward greater economic and social progress, political inadequacies in the Philippines’ formal democracy are clearly evident. Since the 1946 independence from the United States, the Philippines persisted as an oligarchic democracy though civil society has grown strong.(17) Four centuries of colonialism have influenced political-administrative culture in the Philippines; thereby affecting political and economic developments under recent presidents. The Philippines’ democratic consolidation process has been difficult due to the state’s weak capacities, vibrant but contentious civil society, and slow growth economy that accentuated class, regional, and religious cleavages.(18) Political leaders have been committed to reform of the country’s political, economic and social condition, however, sustainable economic development has not yet been realised. This is exacerbated by domestic insurgency that thrives in the absence of regime legitimacy. Does the Philippines therefore suffer from an unruly political culture compared to Singapore’s more disciplined one? The case of Singapore will be examined in greater detail in section III, but below is a short explanation.


Singapore’s government is well-known for its post-independence Communitarian ideology. ‘Communitarian capitalism’ is criticised because it is not founded on Western values of individualism, and hence there are differing attitudes toward human rights between American and East Asian political cultures. Nevertheless, Singapore displays vital signs of democratic life in the form of popular representation, political equality and majority rule except when it comes to giving opposition parties adequate political space. Singapore’s ‘dominant one-party system’ – via the People's Action Party (PAP) - has been termed ‘soft authoritarianism’,(19) ‘illiberal democracy’, ‘semi-democracy’, ‘controlled democracy’, ‘guided democracy’, and ‘Communitarian democracy’.(20) Government by the PAP has acquired a distinctive reputation as an ideologically self-conscious interventionist, but popularly elected government that controls freedoms in the civil society while producing a better material life for the population.(21)

How did this come to be? The PAP has charted a path towards good government based on the Confucian moral right to rule and advocacy of ‘shared values’, while maintaining its popular dominance due to performance legitimacy.(22) This is based on the Asian values debate that economic growth can occur without the individualism associated with Western pluralistic democracy. In conformity with a Confucian orientation, the rights of the individual in Singapore are considered subordinate to collective welfare. However, critics such as Chris Patten have argued that elements of Asian values are found in Western as well as Eastern culture; the ‘Tigerism’ of East Asia is not unique in its value system as Europe and North America today desire their own golden ages of old-fashioned discipline.(23) Patten even disputes the Confucian essence of Asian values, noting its convenient political utility in justifying the subservience of individual interests to those of the state; and yet Confucius passionately defended personal liberty through the family unit against state power.(24) Thus, claims about the Asian way are considered by some as purely self-serving rhetoric. However, there is no point in throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater: Confucian ethics have much to teach on how to harness harmony, partnership, responsibility and community consciousness toward greater economic and social progress. Moreover, whether one agrees with or disputes the Asian values argument, its existence in the rhetoric of a state’s political life suggests a political culture open to its deployment. In other words, that Asian values are capable of being invoked invests them with the power to colour a particular political culture. The contrast between two societies with strong Confucianism roots, Singapore and Taiwan, demonstrates this. Both are proud of their democratic credentials but one, Singapore, has invoked Asian values; the other, Taiwan, rejects the relevance of Confucian or Asian values to democratisation. Thus, even in strongly Confucian societies, political culture can differ markedly. What, then, constitutes political culture?

What is Political Culture?

International relations involves more than power politics between states. States with interests and policies must be regarded at a deeper level; one needs to understand the culture that conditions policymakers and society into having such interests. Human beings, singly and collectively, are the source of all international politics.(25) Hence, studying culture is significant to understanding the similarities and differences in people’s experiences of political systems. Culture is understood as "any interpersonally shared system of meanings, perceptions, and values".(26) In this way, culture is a template for human action, ultimately explaining the driving force behind a nation’s identity and direction. Postmodernist studies suggest that all things "political" have their roots in broad systems of shared meaning.(27) Insofar as politics reflects the broader societal culture, political culture may be understood as "all of the discourse, values and implicit rules that express and shape political actions and intentions, determine the claims groups may and may not make upon one another and ultimately provide a logic of political action".(28)

Political culture studies sprung from the cultural anthropology research of Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, Harold Lasswell, and others who sought to understand how socialisation of children might relate to political identity. However, while such work influenced studies of ‘national character’ in the Second World War, they soon proved unconvincing in explaining the political behaviour of Germany, Japan, and the US.(29) By the 1980s and 1990s, political scientists retreated from reductionist tendencies and decided to research institutions, recognising the need to understand rational self-interest in comparative contexts of laws, rules, ideas, beliefs, and values, which explain the political identity of different countries. Thus, political culture studies are now more rigorously researched, including historical and descriptive analysis as well as important theoretical explanations allowing for a better understanding of economic growth and democratisation in different cultural contexts.(30)

The end of the Cold War highlighted the significance of cultural identity as seen in the hegemony of Western culture, capitalism, and liberal democratic order that was imposed on the culture of most societies.(31) Democracy is said to require a distinctive set of political values in its citizens: moderation, tolerance, civility, efficacy, knowledge, and participation.(32) However, a society’s orientation towards democracy depends on their distinct culture. In this way, political culture involves the knowledge, beliefs, feelings, and value judgements of a political system.(33) Notably, political culture is not a static phenomenon but dynamically conditioned by such factors as economic change, civil society, institutional practice, the international climate of ideas, and national security. Indeed, the last of these introduces political culture’s off-shoot in the form of strategic culture. Nations display a distinctive and strategically evolving style of digesting the problems of national security: "Strategic realities are therefore in part culturally constructed as well as culturally perpetuated".(34) Differences in values are reflected in how culture influences economic development, with some cultures possessing distinct advantage because of their values. For instance, Confucian values are used to justify East Asian governments who promote sacrifice for the sake of the nation and virtue in loyalty to the state. The spirit of Confucius becomes the spirit of nationalism in East Asia, as "Confucian family values became the propaganda link between economic prosperity and political obedience".(35)

Former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was able to mould the society of Singapore into a ‘success story’ because he implemented policies that changed the society’s "software"(36) to obtain national security inclusive of economic progress. In doing so, Lee Kuan Yew thoroughly advocated Asian values in a Confucian context. He criticised the West’s exploitation of individualist tendencies and the erosion of individual responsibility, resulting in over-reliance on government to solve social problems.(37) Western culture understands the individual as an "autonomous entity, marked by its ability and right to choose freely between equal alternatives as well as its potential for unhindered self-fulfilment".(38) This is contrary to the Confucian concept of the individual who is not atomistic but rather defined through social institutions and relationships. Political participation in Confucian terms is based on the family metaphor and values such as loyalty, responsibility, duty, mutual trust, and reciprocity are necessary to keep harmony in the community. Confucianism, while hierarchical in social stratification, is no enemy of democracy. After all, it positions itself within traditional Chinese culture, and in this a major political concept is the Mandate of Heaven (Tianming) which is understood to reflect the will of the people.(39) How democracy is achieved is the key question in relation to Confucian culture.

The Pursuit of Democracy

"Democracy cannot mean all things to all people"; there are definitional limits for any realistic use of the term ‘democracy’.(40) In the most basic sense, democracy is a political system that has: (41)

  1. meaningful extensive competitions between individuals and groups for effective government positions, at regular intervals, and without the use of force;
  2. a highly inclusive level of political participation in selecting leaders and policies; and
  3. a level of civil and political liberties to ensure integrity of political competition and participation – freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom to form and join organisations.

As noted earlier, an essential distinction between classical and liberal democracy is the difference in values; classical democracy is concerned with civic virtue while liberal democracy is concerned with individual freedom. Institutions of democracy may have a variety of forms and are differently valued according to cultural contexts. Countries that have formal institutions of democracy are not necessarily practising or fully experiencing the essence or rewards of democratic participation and are yet to become more substantial and consolidated democracies. A true democratic political condition is a constitutional or role-governed order where virtue exists in equal citizens actively participating in the arrangements through which they are governed.(42) A perfect democracy is impossible because democracy is a constant horizon that must continually be reached for – "democracy will always be unfinished business".(43) However much a strong democracy is commonly desired, it depends on greater equality and the notion of active citizenship and engagement.(44) This requires reformed social attitudes towards power, not just as a tool for political ends but also as a system of checks and balances through popular mandate.

Transitions to democracy do not necessarily lead to democratic consolidation.(45) Certain socio-political conditions are necessary for a democracy to endure and consolidate: democracy itself, affluence, growth with moderate inflation, declining inequality, a favourable international climate, and parliamentary institutions.(46) There is a normative idea that democracy is a universal good as seen in democracy’s current moral prestige and the extent to which it is employed (at least rhetorically) by nearly all regimes as an agent of political legitimation in contemporary international discourse.(47) Since the mid-1970s, there has been a significant growth in liberal democracies around the world with three quarters of today’s governments ruled by free or partly free democratic institutions.(48) Thus, promoting democracy is a prerequisite for many international bodies such as the World Bank that commends democracy as the preferred form of government in light of certain empirical realities:

  1. no sustained famine has occurred in recent decades in an independent democratic country because democracy allows regular elections, opposition parties to voice criticism, and media to report freely thereby questioning government policies for the sake of public welfare;(49)
  2. Democratic peace theory (50) suggests there are no wars between democracies because, ideologically, the democratic ethos promotes tolerance, moderation, and a basic inclination to seek peaceful conflict resolution; and structurally, it engages in power sharing and public accountability which makes it difficult for leaders to convince the public to go to war.(51)

In the past it has been debated whether democracy is beneficial for growth because it limits the ability of the bureaucracy to be proactive in economic policies. Regardless, "democracy appears to prevent the worst outcomes, even if it does not guarantee the best ones."(52) Indeed, as Richard Swift remarks, "[T]o build a strong democracy based on a ‘popular sovereignty’ that is more than a convenient fiction is the potential beginning of sanity, stability, and sustainability."(53)

When addressing the linkage between political culture and democracy, and ultimately development, it is important to note that socio-economic development is not entirely due to culture. There are non-cultural variables that affect it.(54) Nonetheless, some Asian values are found to be favourable to economic growth in developing countries, not discounting the positive necessities of democratic values in the West. Regardless of which value system is better, it is notable that culture as the sum of values in society defines the rights and duties for individuals as they interact, and therefore cultural values affect national behaviour, policy, and outcomes.(55)

Governance and the Developmental State

The concept of governance regards "the extent to which government is effective, honest, equitable, transparent and accountable".(56) The Asian financial crisis in 1997 highlighted how the Philippines, like many of its Asian counterparts, needed to improve governance practices. On the other hand, Singapore’s resilience through the crisis reflected well on its governance. After the Asian financial crisis, the concept of governance became associated with building civil society, democracy and human rights.(57) Governance includes several related factors: (58)

  1. the form of political regime;
  2. the process by which authority is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development; and
  3. the capacity of a government to design, formulate and implement policies and discharge functions.

The attraction of good governance is not just for the sake of economic growth, but also to create the proper environment for the rule of law, greater transparency in government operations, support for civil society, better human rights protection, and opposition to corruption. Moreover, sustainable economic development and good governance depend on transparent public-private partnerships that check each other.(59) However, when a state has the capacity to deal authoritatively and not dependently with both domestic and external economic interests in pursuit of national developmental objectives, it is characterised as a ‘developmental state’.(60) Rather than a hands-off laissez-faire attitude, it has a hands-on policy of advancing economic growth for nation-building purposes.

Democratic developmental states are considered as ‘authoritarian democracies’ because they fall short of fulfilling all the requirements of a liberal democracy and are differentiated from the attributes of an authoritarian regime.(61) Nevertheless, development is possible in democratic developmental states, especially if one-party dominance is able to implement effective, long-term policies for social welfare.(62) Otherwise, in pluralistic liberal democratic developing societies, state autonomy to implement necessary economic reform is hindered by lack of bureaucratic continuity and competitive local and foreign interests that do not serve national development goals.(63)

This leads to the ‘strong state’ (developmental) – ‘weak state’ (pluralistic) governance dichotomy with regard to Singapore and the Philippines. In distinguishing between the perceived ‘strong state’ status of Singapore and ‘weak state’ characterisation of the Philippines, one needs to look at the capacity of each to manage modernisation. A strong state has cohesive and flexible political institutions independent of outside pressure - such as multinational companies (MNC) or foreign governments - and regardless of domestic pressure (such as insurgent or separatist movements) that challenge state authority.(64) In contrast, a weak state lacks the capacity to manage or resist outside and domestic pressure and is therefore subject to manipulation by foreign and/or domestic forces.(65) Thus, while such assessments are necessarily subjective, it may be said that strong states such as Singapore are able to manage the global economy and domestic interests towards the benefit of the wider community; while the weak state of the Philippines bends to the parochial interests of domestic elite and foreign influences. Section II will examine the Philippine experience to understand this ‘weak state’ attribution of its governance and development.

II The Philippine Experience

The Philippines was granted independence by the United States in 1946, after undergoing Spanish colonial rule from 1571 to 1898, then American rule for close to half a century, including coming under Japanese rule for three years. Independence was plagued by the Marcos years of dictatorship, and democracy was finally ushered in through the People Power revolution of 1986. With such a background, building a liberal democratic state has understandably been difficult. Spanish colonialism may be credited with subdividing the country into administrative and political units while American influence introduced democracy and popular representation through elections, yet the cultural aftershocks of colonial experience are still being felt. The patron-client structure inherited from the Spanish hacienda system (large family holdings tilled by tenant farmers) deeply institutionalised an elite and peasant divide.(66) Unhampered individual greed became common due to the impact of American materialistic and individualistic values within an incompetent socio-economic system that rewarded the rich. Such colonial influences created an inefficient administrative culture dominated by an elite interest that has since become institutionalised into the social norms of corruption and poverty in the Philippines today. From colonial days, throughout the Marcos era, and the democratic administrations thereafter, Philippine history has shown how the political and economic system continues to be dominated by dynastic oligarchies, making the notion of democracy highly problematic. Thus the Philippines is known as an "oligarchic democracy" due to its colonial traditions.(67)

Indeed, the Philippines had been regarded as the most persistently undemocratic democracy in Asia.(68) Decades of slow economic growth and stagnation have resulted in sustained labour migration (especially to the Middle East), minimal foreign direct investment (FDI) because of a poor socio-economic infrastructure, and therefore a deteriorating quality of life - especially for the urban poor.(69) Yet, in contrast to this view of an undemocratic or oligarchic democracy, the Philippines has also been called Southeast Asia's Showcase of Democracy.(70) This is because it has managed necessary liberal democratic reforms in order to re-engage as an active participant in the global economy. However, the Philippines has failed to live up to its potential and democratic promises of prosperity in one of the world's most economically dynamic regions. For instance, it has almost 80 million people ranked according to the Human Development Index as 77th in the world, and having a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, converted to purchasing power parity, of US$3,725. The poor socio-economic conditions of the Philippines are blamed on the Marcos era in which every sector in society - from banking to construction – was devastated with corruption;(71) a high level of foreign debt managed by an incompetent bureaucracy; persistent poverty due to an entrenched peasant culture and elite interests; as well as insurgencies due to the government's lack of legitimacy. All these factors can be better grasped in the context of Philippine political culture.

The Political Culture of the Philippines

The Philippines has no specific ideology underlying its political culture except for liberal democratic aspirations. The 1987 Philippine Constitution states: "The Philippines is a democracy and republican state. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them."(72) Moreover, strong democratic ideals of justice, freedom, equality, and patriotism are instilled in early school age children.(73) Despite such aspirations, democracy in the Philippines is mainly a formality rather than substantial reality. Indeed, the Philippine state will continue to be weak and ineffective despite its democratic facade. Attitudes to authority and patterns of relationships are powerful legacies from colonial times. Colonialism encouraged ‘top-down’ rule by an alien bureaucracy unaccountable to the masses and the tendency for leaders to be incapable yet suited to elite and foreign interests. The reality in Philippine political culture is shaped by its colonial legacy cementing elite control over government policy. Consequently, many Filipinos have a general cynicism towards politics as an instrument of genuine structural change due to the hierarchical patron-client structure of Philippine society. Philippine politics is perceived as being fraught with dishonesty, personal ambition and greed.(74)

The Philippine bureaucracy and media are blatantly partisan, and public opinion and political discourse seen to be lively but fickle.(75) Additionally, nationwide insurgency continues to prevent the solidarity of the Philippine state. The military has established its own political identity and shifting allegiances between serving dictatorship to partnering with civil society, or vying for political leadership itself. All this confuses the state of democracy and order in the Philippines. Today, the military is firmly under the control of the elected civilian government, but retains a high political profile as politicians continue to use their clients in the police and military establishments to pursue personal ambitions.(76) Thus non-government organisations (NGOs) and grassroots participation in politics are a strong counterbalance to elite parochialism in order to create a vibrant public sphere.(77)

The Philippines is a sanctuary of NGOs. Initially, civil society emerged as elite charities and cultural pursuits, but gathered momentum through the Catholic Church’s social and grassroots programs in the 1960s. NGOs had a large role in the People Power revolution of 1986, which overturned the regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Thereafter, NGOs were institutionalised in domestic affairs and able to proliferate. The period from 1986 to 1995 saw a 160% growth in NGOs (from 27,100 to 70,200), making the Philippine civil society one of the most active in the developing world.(78) The state has encouraged strategic alliances with NGOs, a situation which has sometimes led to government-initiated self-interested NGOs mishandling development funds. Media groups, investigative journalists, artists’ circles, social weather stations, academic think tanks, trade unions, migrant workers’ alliances, women’s organisations, student councils, environmental groups, farmers’ and fishers’ associations, and the Catholic Church - are all major elements of Philippine civil society. This vibrant democratic element, however, has its problematic side in promoting divisiveness, class conflict, and ethnic tensions; as Joaquin Gonzalez observes, national unity in diversity remains a daunting task.(79) As a constitutional democracy, many Filipinos have been socialised into believing that the ballot box provides regime legitimacy to overcome frustrations with oligarchic unaccountable government. Voting day is a national holiday, and voter turnout is exceptionally high. Yet, despite the faith in the electoral process, the Philippines is notorious for resorting to People Power to de-legitimise and overthrow an unpopular regime through the people’s perceived right to demand an immediate resignation.(80)

Governance and Legitimacy in the Philippines

Even though ‘Asia’s oldest democracy, (81) the Philippines is a weak state and a poor example to its neighbours. Despite the triumph of People Power over the authoritarian Marcos government and then the triumph of People Power II to impeach Estrada for corruption, the Philippines is still lacking a substantive democracy. Though dictatorship was ousted, it simply meant a return to democratic governance characterised by weak parties, factionalism based on personalties rather than ideology, and the dominance of traditional land, political, and business elites. The Philippine culture shaped by colonial traditions runs deeper and stronger than People Power transitions and democratic elections.(82) Repetitive rhetorical democratic and development promises at every election successfully garner hope from the masses for a better future, later only to disappoint them every time.(83) Despite formal democratic institutions and attachment to democratic values, nepotism, corruption, and plunder are the norm in Philippine political culture. A self-aggrandising oligarchy governs without thought to much-needed land reform or the persistence of poverty. This oligarchy hides behind the appearance of Western-style liberal democracy while dominating the political parties, legislature, bureaucracy, and elections through its money, private armies, the military, and police.(84) The norm of corrupt practices and elite control maintains the state as subservient to elite interests and therefore weak and incapable of meeting the demands of the wider public.

Philippine politics may be characterised as being more concerned with winning the elections than implementing effective policy. Politicians, once elected are preoccupied with recovering costs and meeting patron-client demands;(85) not to mention planning of strategic Hollywood-style hype to mobilise the population's parochial mentalities for the next election. In a dualistic society with 90% living in utter poverty,(86) the mentality of the 90% of targeted voters is constrained by poverty - lack of education, lack of untainted information, lack of competent alternatives, as well as vote-buying tactics common in electoral competition. To ensure fair and free elections, independent bodies - such as the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and the National Movement For Free Elections (NAMFREL, a Southeast Asian non-partisan electoral watchdog) - monitor elections. However, the problem is more than ensuring fair elections. It is the lack of cultural control over the individual aspirations of the elite who dominate the country, and that the poor 90% who vote with the desire to have freedom and prosperity through new leadership are effectively disenfranchised.

While the Philippines commits to liberal democratic values, partly in an attempt to imitate the much-idolised American culture, a culture of corruption persists. Corruption in the Philippines protects and rewards inefficiency, undermines accountability, thwarts honest economic competition, and mismanages plus severely reduces international aid and loans for infrastructural projects, as corrupt bureaucrats contrive new rules, delays and requirements in order to extract more payments.(87) Corruption prevents national progress and perpetuates inequality and poverty thereby seriously undermining the legitimacy of the government and democracy. Philippine civil society is seen as the hope for reforms towards more substantial democracy. Already, public-private partnerships have been used towards more effective activities such as transportation improvement, communications, tourism, and industries that have slightly improved the government’s transparency, predictability, and accountability.(88) Despite such cooperative relations, however, mistrust between people persists due to historically entrenched attitudes of suspicion. People tend to blame the government for inefficiency, criticise civil society as too narrow and biased, and view business as unduly money-orientated.(89) The distrust in government honesty, as politicians and bureaucrats seek power and control, is an institutionalised attitude in society. It is not easy for the Philippines to improve transparency and efficiency as corruption permeates all social levels, from influence peddling on the street to rigged public bidding.(90)

Future Prospects

American-style democracy has had an ironic legacy in the Philippines, including: the dominance of personality in politics over ideology or policy; separatist and revolutionary movements persistently challenging government legitimacy; the high crime rate; uneven land and income distribution; dire poverty; patron-client business and politics; a weak economy; corruption; and an incapable bureaucracy. As the Philippines superficially imitate American liberal, democratic, and popular culture, it cannot hide the fact that the political system is essentially inadequate to deal with the negative aspects of a colonial legacy and the complexity of a diverse society. As a weak state still characterised by authoritarianism, patron-client ties, hierarchy and socially perpetuated poverty, Philippine politics has become a spectator sport.(91) Nevertheless, a strong civil society and two People Power revolutions demonstrate an unflagging desire for democracy. Hence, the public sphere is vibrant and vital in the Philippine transition to more substantial democracy. Social movements like the new Citizens Action Party, representing the disenfranchised majority, seek to become political parties in order to transform a weak incompetent government dominated by rent-seeking elites. Indeed, the Philippine state needs to strengthen its institutional apparatus to reflect and meet the needs of the masses and to create the opportunities for Filipinos to expand and utilise their capabilities.

There are no short cuts to conditions enjoyed in mature Western democracies. While democracy has facilitated some economic growth in the Philippines, the challenge is to sustain political vibrancy that will gradually usher in a political culture that more adequately meets the needs of the ordinary Filipino. Americans introduced democratic institutions, but corruption flourished in order to overcome inefficient government and the patron-client social structure established by the Spanish hacienda system. After years of Marcos’ authoritarianism, Corazon Aquino was able to restore formal democracy; Fidel Ramos improved internal security and reforms for economic liberalisation resulting in growth; Joseph Estrada, beset with economic crisis and local insurgencies failed to realise economic renaissance; and the current President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has since made economic and political advances, enjoying popular support as evident in her re-election. Arroyo is highly educated, with an extensive political background supported by her father’s honourable name in presidential history. Her re-election highlights the emergence of a more intelligent electorate, one that has learned from experience that sympathy votes for a widow and voting for one's favourite movie star do not improve the country. History has shown that in the Philippines, the quest for democracy and development lies in a resilient People Power but needs to be carried forward by mature electoral judgement.

III The Singaporean Experience

Singapore has had 140 years (1819 to 1959) of British colonial rule, interrupted by a brief Japanese occupation, and became a ministerial government in 1955. The People’s Action Party (PAP) was born in 1959 after winning 43 of the 51 seats in the May 1959 general election. After gaining independence from the British in 1963, Singapore became one of the 14 federated states of Malaysia; but after only 23 months was ejected from the Malaysian Federation to become, in September 1965, the 117th member of the United Nations. The small island city-state thought it needed Malaysia to survive, but soon learnt to exploit its geographic and heterogenous assets.

Since becoming an independent and formally democratic Republic in 1965 with a Westminster parliamentary model, Singapore’s success story is largely due to the values of its leaders and their manner of governance through a one-party dominant system. In 1959, Singapore was a Third World country dependent on entrepot trade. With low GDP, 1.58 million population growing at 4%, a 5% unemployment rate, a serious housing problem with half the population living in squatter huts, rampant corruption, and a rising crime rate, Singapore was considered as "going down the drain… a poor little market in a dark corner of Asia".(92) Four decades later through the PAP’s policies, Singapore has entered the ranks of the First World, with an affluent and competitive economy, ranking fourth richest country in the world in 1997, a 3.21 million population enjoying a per capita GNP of US$32,490, a 90% increase in government spending on education, a successful public housing program for 86% of the population, effective anti-corruption policies, the lowest crime rate in the world, and a well managed urban landscape.(93)

The PAP has been the sole ruling party of Singapore for over four decades and has been able to produce tangible benefits for Singaporeans. Through benevolent paternalism, a highly competent and uncorrupted bureaucracy rewarding compliance and condemning opposition, the PAP has been successful in advancing economic development and socio-political stability. This represents a considerable achievement considering Singapore’s previously volatile multiethnic society. Effective government policy has buttressed social harmony and equality in a society so multiethnic (77.5% Chinese, 14.2% Malays, and 7.1% Indians), multilingual (English, Mandarin, Malay, Tamil) and multireligious (53.8% Buddhists, 12.9% Christians, 3.3% Hindus).(94) Through a program of nation-building, policies of modernisation, social reform and economic development were reinforced through political and ideological institutionalisation.(95) The PAP has been able to keep a clear and pragmatic vision for Singapore’s development, creating social harmony through encouraging pride in the Singaporean identity.(96) Considering the Malays have tended to be at a disadvantage in a modern society based on meritocracy, the government has tried to provide assistance in their adaptation. PAP policies significantly alleviated poverty, reinforced a culture of meritocracy and esteem in education, encouraged a cosmopolitan business class, and implemented multiethnic programs to create a harmonious plural society.(97) For instance, civil-military relations in Singapore add to national identity. With 250,000 reservists in the force and 15,000 more joining each year through national service, it is understandable how military values such as patriotism, discipline, loyalty, organisational sense, and teamwork are mobilised at every level in state and society.(98)

The economic success of a limited democracy in Singapore was largely due to a leadership that promoted a shared sense of national purpose in programs for economic development that were compatible with market principles. Rapid growth was made possible by Singapore’s human capital, driven by the value of education and meritocratic achievement, a cheap high-quality workforce dependable and disciplined, and good governance that attracted investment.(99) Lee Kuan Yew established an administrative state that was able to attract foreign investment but not be held captive by it.(100) Singapore was able to "find a healthy balance between preserving a sense of identity, home, and community and doing what it takes to survive within the globalisation system".(101) While states in the international system are being redefined by the globalising forces of political change, internationalisation of financial markets, and an increase in technological capabilities, Singapore demonstrates how to be a successful player in the globalised economy and ensure socially inclusive benefits. "Economic hybridity" (102) is a helpful way of understanding the Singaporean political economy as the economic pragmatism that issues from a balance between capitalism and Confucianism.(103)

The Political Culture of Singapore

While Singapore’s democracy may be evidenced in elections and the rule of law, the PAP is criticised as paternalistic and authoritarian. Lee Kuan Yew strongly defended Singapore’s limited democracy on the basis of Asian values which emphasise: (104)

  1. priority of society over the individual;
  2. the importance of emotional bonds based on reciprocal obligations as between family - rather than legalistic relationships based on voluntary contracts; and
  3. power as legitimated by virtue. Consequently, there is an absence of feedback mechanisms and an institutionalised system of checks and balances. Those in power, according to Confucian values, should be there for moral reasons; thus there is no need to construct a countervailing force to oppose them. Indeed, in the Chinese language, politics has a moral connotation as it means ‘rectification’ and the word ‘de’ can be translated as either ‘power’ or ‘virtue’.(105)

This Asian values proposition has been criticised succinctly in this way:

The attachment to family becomes nepotism. The importance of personal relationships rather than formal legality becomes cronyism. Consensus becomes wheel-greasing and corrupt politics. Conservatism and respect for authority become rigidity and inability to innovate.(106)

Nonetheless, it is recognised that the PAP

is popularly elected, financially incorrupt, manages the economy well, has improved the population's standard of living and governs through due parliamentary process, all with a dash of self-sacrifice on the part of its leaders and members, [which] adds up to a very powerful set of legitimatising elements for the PAP regime.(107)

Lee Kuan Yew’s delineation of Asian values are in essence Confucianist, therefore one cannot ignore how Confucianism has been significant in the Singaporean development experience. The creation and efficiency of the PAP’s development policies were supported by social values. Singapore’s success is attributed to the value of commerce and labour (non-Confucian), which advanced Confucian values of education and meritocratic achievement, which in turn results in economically valuable human capital that is attractive to FDI. Thus, it is the PAP’s strong desire for development and pragmatic economic logic, not Confucianism, which guided it to achieve macroeconomic stability, promote exports, and coordinate investment.(108) Confucian principles supported these policies to great success. Some criticise that Confucian capitalism is overestimated, in that Confucianism priorities emotional goods over material goods, moral intellectual development over human capital development; and, how graded benevolence in different personal relations can lead to confusing public and private spheres, nepotism, and cronyism.(109) Nonetheless, the Confucianist emphasis on education, self-discipline, and moral government certainly was a major contribution to Singapore’s growth as it provided the cultural basis for human capital development, rapid capital accumulation, work ethic and a relatively clean government.

As values inherently shape political culture, Singapore’s political culture is understood in the context of Confucian values. Confucian values emphasise moral government, harmonious society with defined hierarchic relations, and emotional bonds that disallow the atomised individual.(110) Lee Kuan Yew has explained the underlying principle in Singaporean society as ‘xiushen qijia zhiguo pingtianxia’: individuals are to cultivate themselves, look after family, and look after their country, so that all is peaceful under heaven.(111) Therefore, as individuals strive to be virtuous they exercise self-control and self-discipline that would mitigate against the abuse of power in lieu of an institutionalised system of checks and balances.(112) Virtue and benevolence, rather than force and power, define human relations. Thus, Singapore’s political culture advocates identity through social institutions such as family and civic values based on the notion of social harmony and consensus. The individual does not realise his or her potential independence and freedom from other people’s interests, but through responsibility and care for others and the social environment.

The continued relevance of Confucian values to the character of Singaporean society depends on citizens holding these values and continuing to practice them. For instance, in Taiwan a comprehensive survey found liberal democratic values have been markedly more widespread and accepted than Asian values; showing that whether or not Asian values prevail, there is some ground to argue that Asian values are not necessarily permanent or sustained.(113) Values change. In Singapore, Confucianism is said to shape the values and political choices of ordinary people, yet the government had to promulgate its values through the education curriculum.(114) The presumed role of Confucianism in the population must be understood as at least having a significant impact on civic attitudes to family, education, social responsibility, and government.(115) Under the subsequent Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong, the advocacy of Confucian ethics was repackaged in the national ideology of Communitarianism. Critics have interpreted this as escaping the logical progression to liberal democracy, while others explain that it reflects the government's adaptability to a rapidly changing society, an adaptability that maintains the key to the PAP’s long-term survival.(116)

Communitarianism resembles Confucianism in attempting to balance individual rights with the common good. The Communitarian doctrine positions the government as custodian of the community will, imposing civic values on individual behaviour by emphasising the community as the greater good and individual responsibility over egocentric behaviour.(117) Considering the apparent social decay and fragmentation in the West, it is suggested that the West needs to find a similar balance between individual freedom and social responsibility. Essentially, Singaporean political culture challenges Western individualistic biases. The privileging of communal values over individual rights necessarily creates alternative understandings of human dignity and human rights.(118)

Governance and Legitimacy in Singapore

According to Confucian values which permeate Singaporean society, a ruler (in today’s terms, the government) is expected to be virtuous; through virtue the government would win the people, through winning the people, it would posses the realm through which it would command the revenue and resources to meet all demands.(119) Meanwhile, Communitarian values foster cooperative goals in society, which create sufficient socio-political stability among diverse groups necessary to sustain the economic policies put in place.(12) The PAP’s claim to power is based on an ideology of shared values, as evidenced in its 1991 White Paper on "Shared Values" in which core values were identified as: (121)

  1. nation before community and society above self;
  2. upholding the family as the basic building bloc of society;
  3. regard and community support for the individual
  4. resolving major issues through consensus rather than contention; and
  5. religious and racial tolerance and harmony. (122)

The PAP has been criticised for its cultural relativism in viewing its political regime as a democracy.(123) There is lack of democratic practice in freedom of speech and separation of powers in the judiciary and executive as the government dominates media culture, and judges often hand down decisions based on political expediency rather than law.(124) However, the PAP has been in government for more than 40 years, and has infused its formal democratic institutions with Confucian Communitarian elements that have served society well. Singapore’s political identity is understandable in the context of this cultural background, which takes pride in national unity and national progress. The PAP is continually re-elected perhaps in part because of a repressed civil society; however, essentially PAP policies are based on Communitarianism and the PAP’s popularity through regular elections is largely reflective of community interest in being governed by the ‘best and brightest’.(125) The ruling party is likely to continue to be supported by the people as long as it maintains its honest and efficient reputation. Thus, Singapore’s limited democracy will continue because it has worked so well thus far. It is likely to continue to be successful as long as good governance is institutionalised, and political stability is balanced with demands for greater political participation.

For Singapore, ‘good governance’ is a national ethos constituting accountability and transparency, long-term orientation, and social justice.(126) Singapore's leaders refer to their one-party rule and high degree of social control as their secrets to success.(127) Leaders insist that pluralistic democracy is neither inevitable nor desirable for economic prosperity. While good governance is often assumed as being a liberal democratic principle, the case of Singapore illustrates how the role of good governance depends on the context of political and cultural dynamics. In Singapore, good governance is not realised in liberal democratic conditions but instead seems to serve as a barrier to liberal democratic ideas such as civil society being embedded in domestic political discourse.(128) Governance in Singapore involves: (129

  1. meritocracy - recruiting civil servants on the basis of merit, thereby favouring efficiency as the basis for promotion rather than seniority;
  2. emphasis on clean government through stringent anti-corruption measures; (130)
  3. pragmatism – relying on MNCs for growth rather than conforming to regional anti-American or anti-MNC attitudes of the time;
  4. reliance on policy diffusion – using role models in international society to inspire public policy in areas such as defence, crime prevention, technical education, and quality control.(131)

There are 23 registered political parties in Singapore, with only a few that are active and the PAP as dominant.(132) However, the ideology of good governance and administrative efficiency displaces the criticisms of the PAP being undemocratic. Democracy is hailed as a Western value, but must be politically managed in Singapore in order to mobilise the people to common goals. Singapore has kept its government free from corruption, maintained an annual growth rate of about 9%, with national income per capita at around US$32,000. The Singaporean experience contradicts the truism that ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’ and, with the PAP’s transparent politics, upholds the traditional Chinese power-virtue equation of ‘de’. By contrast, widespread corruption in developing countries has become a scourge that it stunts development and threatens the growth of democracy. Singapore demonstrates that with a strong administrative system, political will and public cooperation, corruption can be prevented.

Future Prospects

Political involvement of Singaporeans is low, many do not vote, but the significant 35-40% who did not vote for the PAP in the last four elections forced the party to reform in order to meet public demand for opposition and provide avenues of criticism.(133) Government feedback mechanisms now encourage discussion of national concerns through ministerial walkabouts, grassroots organisations, parliamentary select committees, and weekly meet-the-people sessions.(134) Thus it appears the purpose of elections in Singapore is not to overturn the government but rather to provide a significant avenue for citizens to express their dissatisfaction and expectations in the PAP which, in accordance with Communitarian ideology, proceeds to address the grievances raised.(135) The PAP’s performance legitimacy is founded on "soft authoritarianism in exchange for economic prosperity"; with equitable distribution of economic goods and social justice improving social, economic, civil, and political rights over the years.(136) The PAP has been re-elected repeatedly and will continue its dominance as long as it meets the expectations of its increasingly educated, well-travelled, informed and affluent society.

As a strong state seeking to maximise the benefits of globalisation for its citizens, the government has successfully engineered social cohesion and trust in government. It has managed to avoid the negative features of global internationalism: dissolution of loyalties in the domestic realm. However, Singapore is well aware that without a strong civil society, free-flowing information, debate and dissent, human ingenuity is stifled and could result in loss of global competitiveness and hence Singapore’s enviable standard of living. For example, holding back the development of a robust civil society restrains social movements that heighten public awareness of environmental degradation, economic disparities, gender discrimination, and so on, which, in turn, reduces the capability of the state to develop effective mechanisms for dealing with emerging social problems.(137) In the past, the majority of citizens were willing to sacrifice personal freedoms for the sake of the country’s economic prosperity and national security. Now that the population is wealthier and better educated, few seek political upheaval and instead share the government’s interest in maintaining Singapore’s cultural edge required to remain economically competitive in globalisation.(138) In an era of heightened human, cultural and capital mobility, civil society will inevitability grow stronger as citizens regard inclusive citizenship as their right, not a Western value.(139)


IV Concluding Considerations on the Philippine and Singaporean Experiences of Democracy and Development

As discussed above, Singapore’s political control to ensure economic growth accords with the prevailing global economy in which a strong state is needed to manage capital for the welfare of society. Singapore’s Confucian Communitarian values support a strong government because it is an advantage for social progress. In contrast, the individualistic tendencies learnt from Spanish and American influence in the Philippines have indirectly fostered a culture of corruption and poverty. Democratisation in the Philippines is supposed to be the result of rising affluence, diversification of economic interests, education, and the rise of a middle class. (140) Unfortunately, affluence and modernisation are managed by an oligarchic class that lacks Communitarian values and exploits the democratic freedoms adopted from the US. Thus, future prospects for the Philippines seem fragile in light of a political system that is self-serving for the elite rather than benefiting the wider community. However, through a vibrant civil society, socio-political change towards more substantial democracy is possible.

Conversely, Singaporean political culture is in need of a stronger civil society. Despite Communitarian political culture’s boost to the PAP and limited democracy’s success in fostering national development, today the PAP must reinforce its legitimacy by meeting the community’s demand for greater political participation. While ‘too much democracy too fast’ is criticised by conservative leaders in the East, efficient soft authoritarianism is promoted. The result, however, is a slow democratic development in society that may jeopardise the very economic dynamism necessary to maintain a thriving economy.(141) Despite a weak capacity for effective democracy in the Philippines, the authoritarian tendencies in Singapore have led to the preservation of the status quo which could become an impediment to continued innovation, economic advancement, and social stability. Thus, democratic progress, however inconvenient in the Singapore or Philippine context, is still necessary for long-term stability and legitimacy of the political order.

Remarkably, the PAP has enjoyed near total political dominance without succumbing to any sustained abuse of power, arbitrary rule, corruption, mismanagement, or disregard for Singaporean interests.(142) Unfortunately, the opposite situation prevails in the Philippines where Western liberal democracy has failed to live up to its expectations because of the mismatch between democratic political institutions and existing socio-economic realities. As strong states are able to implement effective policy due to their power to penetrate the global economy, weak states fail to do so because they are subject to the whim of the market, foreign interests, and domestic elite control. Singapore has been an instructive example of a strong state that has incorporated market principles to promote community progress. In the weak state of the Philippines, pursuing private agenda through the global economy and controlling government policy was commonplace and led to the nation’s dismal economic performance. Thus, whether through democracy or semi-democracy, effective economic policy requires responsiveness to public needs and insulation from greedy private interests. The issue is not the type of political regime, but what cultural values determine the political identity of the state.

Regardless of the pros and cons in the political culture of the Philippines or Singapore, the study of Communitarian and Confucian values is certainly valuable in highlighting deficiencies in the Western tradition when applied in different contexts. The practice of Western liberal democracy is not perfect, but it is the preferred choice so long as it is recognised that there are other elements necessary to maximise freedom through democratic processes. Thus, Confucian values prioritising the community over the individual are a major challenge to the panacea of the Western model of democracy, capitalism, and individualism. Notably, democracy remains a work-in-progress. Through continuous critical assessment of existing political practices that claim to be democratic, the question becomes not whether a country is a democracy but how it may be further democratised.(143) Meaningful participation by all citizens in the practice of development and democracy is the concern of current development discourse. When pondering Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Singapore are like the yin and the yang of the present era of democracy and development. To avoid the dangers of the extremities found in each system, a balance must be struck between the strong state’s instincts to interfere with civil society and the weak state’s submission to vested interests.



1. Rachel Caoili is the recipient of The Centre for East-West Cultural & Economic Studies award for excellence in postgraduate study of East-West issues, Bond University, October 2004.

2. Werlin, 2001:169.

3. Burkhart and Lewis-Beck, 1994:903.

4. Bhagwati, 2002; Gupta et al., 1998; Yi Feng, 1997; Barsh, 1992; Werlin, 2001; Acharya, 2003; Akwawua, 2002; Burkhart & Lewis-Beck, 1994; Cassanova, 1996; Ganesan, 2001;Gasiorowski & Power, 1998;Glasure et al., 1999; Marsh, 1991; Neher, 1991.

5. Lipset cited in Glasure et al., 1999:466. Lipset [1959] offers the first well-known empirical test of the economic development hypothesis (Barsh, 1992:124).

6. See Bhagwati, 2002:151,153, 159; Barsh, 1992:124.

7. Gupta et al., 1998:587.

8. Ibid.

9. Neher & Marlay, 1995:27.

10. Huntington, [1997] 2002:78.

11. Subramaniam, 2001:65

12. Ibid.

13. Werlin, 2001:176.

14. Haynes, 2002:71.

15. Cited in Xinhua News Agency, 1999:1008114h01909.

16. Gupta et al., 1998:588.

17. Rocamora cited in Quadir & Lele, 2004:196; Gonzalez, 2001:287.

18. Rivera, 2002:466; Velasco, 1999:200.

19. An authoritarian system has extensive political control of the polity via the existence of state institutions/agencies that buttress and consolidate the regime's power, and where opposition parties are often denied channels to contest state control. (Hewison et al., 1993; O'Donnell, 1979, 1986; Huntington, 1991; Huntington & Moore, 1970) Unlike ‘hard’ authoritarian states, where democratic ideas have no place, Singapore's ‘soft’ authoritarian style allows some procedural democratic norms to function. (Mutalib, 2000:317)

20. Mutalib, 2000:315.

21. Beng-Huat, 1994:664.

22. Ibid., 1994:657; Quah, 2001:309; Mutalib, 2000:313.

23. Patten, 1999:149.

24. Ibid., 1999:164.

25. Hudson, 1997:5.

26. Millennium 1993 quoted in Hudson, 1997:2.

27. Hudson, 1997:10.

28. Ibid., 1997:10.

29. Almond, 1993:ix-x.

30. Ibid., 1993:xii.

31. Murden, 2001:460.

32. Diamond, 1993:1, 8-10 (Diamond also cites Almond, Verba, Lipset, Dahl, Inkeles).

33. Diamond, 1993:8. The political system being the political institutions [political parties, interest groups, mass media], processes [actions, conflicts, alliances, party behaviour style, interests groups, individuals], and policies [output of decisions in the system]. (Diamond, 1993:8)

34. Booth 1990:124 quoted in Dellios, 1997:204.

35. Byker et al., 1995 (video).

36. The adequate operating systems and institutions to allow the society to get the most out of the system of international free markets and protect it from the worst situations of investment and capital flight. (Friedman, 2000:Chapter 8)

37. Khong, 1999:295.

38. Pohl, 1999:274.

39. Dellios, 1997:210.

40. Lawson, 1996:110.

41. Ibid., 1996:114.

42. Jones, 1997:6

43. Swift, 2002:138-139.

44. Ibid., 2002:138.

45. Velasco, 1999:167.

46. Przeworski et al., 1997:295 That is to say democracies are more durable at higher levels of development; when they generate economic growth; moderate inflation; reduce income inequality; when political culture promotes democratic foundations and traditions; if the international climate is favourable; and, if adopted, parliamentary institutions are effective. (In Przeworski et al., 1997)

47. Lawson, 1996:112.

48. Kegley & Wittkopf, 2001:640.

49. For Indian famines of the 19th century, and serious efforts by modern Indian governments to avert famine deaths, see Mellor & Gavian 1987; Hardiman 1996.

50. The liberal idea presented by Immanuel Kant in Perpetual Peace now embodied in a theory that explains how democratic states do not fight each other as the diffusion of democratic governance throughout the world reduces the probability of war. (Kegley & Wittkopf, 2001:640)

51. Hamilton, 2004:81-82.

52. United Nations Development Program, 2002:56 quoted in Hamilton, 2004:80. Democracy rather than authoritarianism is deemed to support sustained economic growth because democracy institutionalises control on the predatory potential of rulers, fosters a social environment that is innovative, improves productivity, and social decisions are based on an exchange of different views giving legitimacy to the politics of inclusion that maintains social stability. (Lim, 2000:312)

53. Swift, 2002:139.

54. For example, the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 cannot entirely be blamed on Asian values: other downturns across Russia and parts of Latin America and by the near failure of US hedge funds shows that issues of risk management and unfettered globalisation are also to blame. Risk-bearing by the government through implicit loan guarantees was hard to monitor; de-regulation and de-protection was delayed, thus the continued practice of public bearing of private risks provoked the impetus to privatise gains and socialise losses. Risk management with its lax oversight and ‘moral hazard’ is a problem also experienced in Western society despite the tendency for cronyism and corruption in Asia; and unregulated flow of short-term capital can be blamed on the Western emphasis on individual freedom. Asian deference to authority and the absence of institutions of checks and balances aggravated risk management due to unchecked cronyism and nepotism, but Asian values merely aggravated the economic defects that led to the Asian financial crisis. Thus, solely blaming Asian values for the economic crisis neglects factors beyond Asian culture that are necessary for rigorous explanations free from cultural determinism. (Lim, 2000:298-299, 308)

55. Marsh et al., 1999:11; Lim, 2000:299.

56. Funston, 2001:421.

57. Ibid., 2001:422.

58. World Bank, 1994:xiv cited Hamilton, 2004:80.

59. Funston, 2001:423; Johnston, 2000:87. In the economy, private investment and efficient business management must be complemented by strong public institutions such as a legal system that defends economic rights while maintaining fair competition; and reliable accountable transparent agencies to collect taxes, regulate customs, and maintain a sound currency. In politics, governments need citizen participation for guidance and legitimacy; citizens need honest officials to ensure effective implementation of policy and essential public services. (Johnston, 2000:87)

60. That is, a state with internal politics and external relations that serve to concentrate sufficient power, authority, and capacity to pursue and encourage the achievement of clear developmental objectives through establishing or promoting economic growth. (Leftwich, 1996:284-289)

61. Leftwich, 1996:290.

62. Ibid., 1996:291

63. Ibid.

64. Simone & Feraru, 1994:143.

65. Ibid.

66. Kingsbury, 2001:324.

67. Neher, 1991:139; Kingsbury, 2001:299.

68. Rocamora cited in Quadir & Lele, 2004:196.

69. Lo & Yeung, 1999:11.

70. Neher, 1991:146.

71. Cronyism is still very much a part of the Philippines elite business culture. Most cronies have close friends in government and are pillars of the Filipino business society elite. Examples given by Kingsbury (2001:323) are: billionaire Edouardo Cojuangco headed Estrada’s political party, Jose Yao Campos is a real-estate tycoon and owner of the largest pharmaceutical company (United Laboratories), Enrique Razon - the boss of Manila’s port – owns the newspaper: The Manila Standard, Lucio Tan retains his Fortune Tobacco company and Allied Bank.

72. Leones & Moraleda, 1998:289. This implies an American style presidential form of government with the separation of powers (legislature, executive, and independent judiciary) as well as aspirations and institutions for maintaining the sovereignty of the people, civil authority over the military, separation of church and state, and the government providing protection, peace, welfare, and liberty to its citizens. (Gonzalez, 2001:277)

73. Gonzalez, 2001:277.

74. Sidel, 1995:139; Leones & Moraleda, 1998:334.

75. Leones & Moraleda, 1998:333-334.

76. Hedman, 2001:186.

77. Organised groups such as the Makati Business Club, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting and the Bishops-Businessmen Conference, all inform the citizenry of what is happening inside and outside government so that Filipinos feel they are involved in government processes. (Quadir & Lele, 2004:28)

78. Clark, 1998 cited Gonzalez, 2001:278.

79. Gonzalez, 2001:252.

80. Ibid., 2001:285.

81. Hedman, 2001:186.

82. It should be noted, however, that Corazon Aquino’s successor, Fidel Ramos, was able to implement substantial reform for the Philippines in his time such as reconciling certain elements within the rebel military by granting amnesty for political crimes, pacifying Muslim insurgents by granting autonomous territory to the Muslims in the south, and negotiating with communist insurgents. He also initiated effective economic reform by launching an anti-monopoly campaign replacing Marcos cronies with people favourable to the government.

83. Filipinos are continually dissatisfied with their public officials and frustrated with the government’s deficient performance in areas of land reform, environment, human rights, tax collection, insurgency, crime, foreign debt, and corruption. (Neher & Marlay, 1995:71)

84. See Neher & Marlay, 1995:67-68; Simone & Feraru, 1994:144.

85. Leones & Moraleda, 1998:336. The emergence of democracy in Philippines has created a space for prevalent corruption as politicians, having captured office through funding from capitalist elites to buy votes, are obliged to return the favour by channelling rents (bank loans, tax exemptions, privatised contracts) to the business elites. (Gomez, 2002:10) Thus, there emerges a co-dependency between government and business as neither can effectively do without the other. (Wedeman, 2002:56) By serving the interests of the elites, the government has been too weak to serve its country’s wider needs and interests.

86. Simone & Feraru, 1994:145.

87. Johnston, 2000:90.

88. Gonzalez, 2001:286.

89. Ibid., 2001:288

90. Ibid.

91. Rocamora cited in Quadir &Lele, 2004:28.

92. Winsemus quoted in Quah, 2001:292.

93. Quah, 2001:292.

94. Seng, 1998:343; Hefner, 2001:37; Quah, 2001:292.

95. Khong, 1999:290.

96. Through media campaigns, education, and integrated housing plans (Simone & Feraru, 1994:143). See also Sours, 1994:108, regarding Singapore’s quest for an identity in Southeast Asia that is more than merely Chinese.

97. Khong, 1999:291.

98. Yong, 2001:293.

99. Lim, 2000:301-302; Khong, 1999:298-299.

100. Simone & Feraru, 1994:143.

101. Friedman, 2000:42.

102. Explained as the coming together of economic logics and practices from different epochs and cultural histories. (See Yang, 2000:477)

103. Hefner, 2001:37.

104. Lim, 2000:305; Inoguchi, 1998:179; Lawson, 1996:116-117. See also Patten, 1999:146-173 for constructive criticism of the Asian values argument.

105. Dellios, 1994b:6-7.

106. (Economist) Lim, 2000:300. The ‘Western’ view is that cultural relativism cannot mask political repression. The advocates of Asian values criticise the US for its high crime rate, broken families, drug abuse, selfishness and general social decay, yet there is a prevalence of rich Asian families choosing to live in such a Western society. Even the vast diversity within Asia questions the overarching concept of Asian values. Advocating values that are common to all of Asia is problematic because there are so many values – Confucian, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic. (Patten, 1999:149-155) Also, democracy has historically incorporated the notion of community as well as equality. (Lim, 2000:305)

107. Beng-Huat, 1994:657.

108. Lim, 2000:307.

109. Ibid., 2000:306-307.

110. Pohl, 1999:274-277; Lim, 2000:305.

111. Lee Kuan Yew cited in Lim, 2000:305, 315.

112. Lim, 2000:305.

113. Parish & Chang, 1996 cited in Marsh et al., 1999:4.

114. Khong, 1999:296.

115. Ibid. The Confucian state was based on values of obedience, courtesy discipline, moral education, society over the individual and three objectives: increase in population, the development of the economy (agricultural not mercantile terms), and the promotion of education. (Jones, 1997:11)

116. Khong, 1999:296.

117. Ibid., 1999:296-297. For example, Communitarianism in action is evident through Singapore’s legislation that makes it a crime for people to not support their elderly parents except if there is a history of child abuse. Such legislation upholds/reflects the Asian values of sanctity of family and respect for elderly while placing the onus on the public to support the elderly population as much as possible. (Inoguchi, 1998:180)

118. Dunne & Wheeler, 1999:11.

119. Lege 1893 cited in Jones, 1999:11-12. See also Dellios, 1997:208-209, 226 on the key terminology used for traditional Chinese values and their application to governance. This relates to the way the Singapore government exercises moral leadership with a strong and virtuous governing hand to maintain peace and order and promote a better society.

120. Khong, 1999:295.

121. Quah, 2001:309-310; Hurrell, 1999:295.

122. Ethnic, religious, and linguistic differences have been cleverly managed through a government policy of encouragement of official mother tongues, setting up ethnically based self-help groups, and preventing ethnic enclaves through an integrated housing policy. (Seng, 1998:358)

123. Confucianism has been criticised as being a veil for various modes of political practices such as nepotism and authoritarianism across East Asia. (Lawson, 1996:88)

124. See Kingsbury, 2001:346-348.

125. Lim, 2000:311; Sachsenroder, 1998:4.

126. "Principles of Governance", Singapore National Education Website, accessed on 19 May, 2004. Also found in Subramaniam, 2001:70.

127. Hodson, 2003:4.

128. Subramaniam, 2001:74.

129. Quah, 2001:318.

130. Prevention of Corruption Act and Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau. Also, higher salaries are paid to reduce vulnerability to corruption, and increased penalties are in place to deter corrupt behaviour and reduce opportunities for corruption. (Quah, 2001:317; Kim, 2003: 356)

131. Singapore has used Israel and Switzerland as models in devising public policies for defence and other areas; Germany for technical education; the Netherlands for the international airport; and Japan for crime prevention. (Quah, 2001:317)

132. Simone & Feraru, 1994:144.

133. Seng, 1998:362. After a surprising decrease in votes by 12.8%, resulting in the PAP gaining only 64.8% of votes in 1984, the PAP government learnt to reform its paternalistic style through consultative mechanisms, such as establishing the Feedback Unit in 1985, National Agenda in 1987, Institute of Policy Studies in 1987, and six advisory councils in 1988. Also, in 1991 it introduced presidential elections causing the Prime Minister to share powers with the elected President. (Quah, 2001:319)

134. Seng, 1998:363.

135. Khong, 1999:297.

136. Quah, 2001:315.

137. Mackerras, 2000:323.

138. Hefner, 2001:44.

139. Ibid., 2001:49.

140. Simone & Feraru, 1994:153.

141. Sachsenroder, 1998:4.

142. Vasil, 2000:233.

143. Giddens & Pierson, 1998:175.



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