Albert Winsemius and the transnational origins of high modernist governance in Singapore

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter studies Winsemius as a strand of transnational technical expertise which helped forge high modernist governance in Singapore. James Scott’s (Seeing like a state: how certain schemes to improve the human condition have failed. Yale University Press, New Haven, 1998) concept of high modernism outlines the characteristics of state-planned mega-projects: they typically express a scientific-rationalist view of the world, seek to transform nature and human nature and work through emergency situations. These features are found in Singapore’s one-party state. Since 1959, the PAP has implemented ambitious reforms from above to shift the economy from entrepôt trade to manufacturing and services. These reforms were scientific-rationalist, designed by technocrats in the government and civil service trained in engineering, architecture, urban planning and economics. The reforms were also driven by a deep sense of emergency, attributed to Singapore’s enduring vulnerability as a city-state with no hinterland and a history of ethno-religious strife and political subversion. Singapore’s high modernism is illiberal, technocratic, crisis-driven, perpetually in reform, and transnational.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Limits of Authoritarian Governance in Singapore's Developmental State
EditorsLily Zubaidah Rahim, Michael D. Barr
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9789811315565
ISBN (Print)9789811315558
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2019


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