The Role of Citizen Political Participation in Hong Kong and Singapore

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The Role of Citizen Political Participation in Hong Kong and Singapore

Both Hong Kong and Singapore are city states that traditionally have lacked broad political participation, instead political decisions were left up to a small group of leaders. Historical factors were critical in determining the role of political participation in both city states. Hong Kong's history of colonial rule and the strength of the People's Action Party (PAP) in Singapore acted to keep broad citizen participation in government to a minimum. Hong Kong after World War Two remained a colony of England and it's government remained under colonial rule. Unlike in other Asian nations such as Singapore their existed no major anti-colonial movement and the Colonial government was insulated from political pressure because many residents and immigrants from China appreciated the commercial opportunities that Hong Kong had to offer and were afraid that if England gave up control of Hong Kong the small state would be over run by the newly established and expansionist communist China to the north. During the years immediately after 1949 China was expanding, taking over Tibet and Mongolia; Hong Kong's feeling of insecurity was very real. The Colonial government did in subsequent years establish Hong Kong's Legislative Council and Executive council, and the Colonial government appointed prominent and respected local Chinese citizens to serve on these bodies. These councils although far from democratic did ensure that the Chinese citizenry would at least have representatives to express their pleasure or displeasure with the colonial administration. But these representatives lacked any real power and served only at the pleasure of the Colonial administration. The government of Hong Kong was administered and run by the English Foreign service officers that flocked to Hong Kong, the last vestige of English Empire. In Hong Kong it really was the English that ruled not the Chinese...
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