Photo of Ng Eng Hen from Straits Times Mark Cheong

Responding to a student’s question about single party rule in Singapore at the Yale-NUS forum, Defence Minister defended his ruling party’s domination claiming that China is seeing immense economic progress because it has a single party rule, and that democracies like Australia and United Kingdom are facing political gridlock.

In his tacit confession that Singapore is an authoritarian state, Minister Ng Eng Hen said that such authoritarianism is the primary motivation behind economic progress:

“China, despite being led by a state party, no one has questioned the economic progress the country has made in the last few decades. On the other hand, countries with multiple parties can draw on the good ideas from each party, but they could also face political gridlock, such as in the case of Australia and the United Kingdom. I asked the question, why there was this trend globally, as we’ve seen in the last decade, towards even more authoritarian leaders and systems? It is the fact that that model hasn’t delivered as well. And the reason is political gridlock, there is a price to pay for accommodation, in other words you have a coalition party.”

However, there is no mention that China remains a third world country while Australia and United Kingdom are first world economies. Neither did Australia and UK arrived to their economic successes today using authoritarian methods.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen also declared that the number of opposition parties in Singapore is not a determinant of how the country progress:

“If the country’s progress is measured by the number of political parties in it, I think you will have an interesting result. That’s not been shown to be the determinant to how a country progresses.”

Singapore’s single party rule has resulted in serious legalised corruption that sees legislation dictating that ministers get paid the highest in the world, at S$1.2 million a year each. Recently, the single party rule has been questioned because of its unbridled power to re-write the Constitution, just so the Prime Minister can select his choice of Singapore President. There are currently 83 PAP MPs and 6 Opposition MPs, a 93.2% representation of the ruling party despite only a 70% popular vote in the last election in 2015.