Singapore and the United States are both first world countries pioneering in advancement as compared to the nations around them. They serve as an emblazonment of prosperity that has been ensured by firm and successful leadership. However, unlike USA, the leading front of Singapore has not changed since its independence. The People’s Action Party has brought its nation into the 21st century without being displaced. The United States, though, has remained torn apart between the Democrats and the Republicans. What then did the PAP have that neither of these strong political parties in the most powerful country of the world, did not?
Use of Fear
A main weapon in favour of the PAP has been fear. It is not PAP which has created these fears but rather a common misconception of the Singaporean people themselves. In a Strait Times interview with MM Lee when the concern of voting against PAP was raised he clarified that the PAP will have no knowledge on who casts a vote against them and that people themselves are creating this illusion.1 Yet, this fear though not a political tactic by the PAP, does serve as a political advantage. The fear surfaces in the case of raising voices against the PAP too. Any comment going against the PAP has a high probability in a lawsuit against the critic. In the highly liberal state of the United States, people are fearless enough to publicly make mocking videos and insulting publicity against the government.2 It is hence proven that the minimising of critics lead to the retention of power. This is what the PAP has managed but the parties in USA have failed.
Influence of the Education System
The education system in Singapore has been groomed in a way to enable PAP to hold their eternal positions. Students from their primary level of education are nurtured in a highly disciplined manner with them barely being given chances to speak. Many a time, when children are caught talking they are reprimanded and the message is ingrained in them that voicing out has a negative consequence. The United States believes in a more liberal system of educating their young in their nation via more interaction and openness. Such liberty has its social drawback as it tends to disorganisation. However as Lord Acton once said, “Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.”3
Suppression of the Oppositions
The suppression of the Opposition is another factor that assists the PAP in retaining its held power. The PAP has many modes of destabilizing its opposition. The judicial system of Singapore has a bias that acts to the benefit of the PAP. Singapore’s former solicitor-general, Francis Seow said “… the Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew uses the courts as a legal weapon to intimidate, bankrupt or cripple the political opposition … in numerous legal suits against dissidents and detractors for alleged defamation in Singapore courts, and has won them all.”4 Hence the element of fear shows itself to be victorious. Such mode of politics can barely be used in the United States due to the fact that its judicial system is not controlled by the government.
Financially destabilising a political opponent prevented them from running successfully with funds in an election is another tactic employed by the PAP. Pushing many political opponents into bankruptcy using law suits has enabled the PAP to eradicate majority of them. These are all the PAP law suits till 1996 (all of which have been successful): 5
Year Sued by Sued Amount
1979 Lee Kuan Yew Jeyaretnam S$ 130,000
1988 Lee Kuan Yew Seow Khee Leng S$ 250,000
1989 Lee Kuan Yew Jeyaretnam S$ 230,000
1989 Lee Kuan Yew FEER S$ 230,000
1900 Lee Kuan Yew Jeyaretnam S$ 260,000
1991 Lee Kuan Yew Quek Teow Chuan S$ 200,000
1994 LKY, GCT, LHL IHT S$ 650,000
1994 Lee Kuan Yew IHT S$ 400,000...