Thursday, March 26, 2015

Yew's death makes us ponder authoritarianism in Singapore, without corruption; India's Internet restrictions

The New York Times has an interesting issue “A Rebuff to India’s Censors”, link here . The issue is a law called Section 66A which had been intended to deter speech contributing to terrorism (after the 2008 Mumbai attack) but instead has been used suppress normal criticism or personal communications.  The ruling also said that only government, not private groups, could force social media companies to take down troubling posts.
The death of Singapore’s former president Lee Kuan Yew (WSJ covers Bill Clinton’s attendance at the funeral here ) is also notable.  Singapore, a city-state whose only natural resource is its harbor and climate, built a prosperous economy with very little or no corruption (compared, say, to China and Russia) despite a somewhat authoritarian system that did limit personal freedom, especially open speech.  Singapore was noted in the 80s and 90s for strict cleanliness and anti-littering laws, with canings as punishment (even for visitors).  Yew also claimed to be pro-family and pro-natalist ("Asian values"), but nevertheless Singapore has more recently struggled with a low birth rate.  There is an idea in some political circles and progress and stability – and respect for future generations – only happens with a lot of discipline on the individual (especially the “divergent” or “factionless” today). Usually that results in a lot of corruption of leadership (like in Russia).  But in Singapore it did not.  Of course, Singapore is smaller. The Singapore Symphony Orchestra made a lot of recordings of obscure romantic works in the 1980s for Records International and Marco Polo labels. 
A coworker vacationed in Singapore in 1999.  
Wikipedia attribution link for photo of Marina Bay Sands, by “Someformofhuman”, under Creative Commons 3.0 Share-Alike license.  

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