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.
|Title of host publication
|The Limits of Authoritarian Governance in Singapore's Developmental State
|Lily Zubaidah Rahim, Michael D. Barr
|Place of Publication
|Number of pages
|Published - 6 Feb 2019