Singapore’s latest book on the local political scene is officially published. Authored by prominent local political academics Dr Bilveer Singh, Dr Walid Jumblatt Abdullah, as well as Singapore Institute of Management’s very own Dr Felix Tan Thiam Kim, the book takes an in-depth look at the Singapore 2020 General Elections and the shifting local political sentiments.
The book is available for purchase online from World Scientific.
On 10 July 2020, Singapore held its 18th general elections in history and the 13th since independence in 1965. The ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) once again retained its supermajority by capturing 83 out of the 93 seats, controlling 89.2 percent of parliamentary seats. In spite of a changing social, political and economic landscape, Singapore is still very much identified as an illiberal democracy that has somehow thrived over the years.
As the general election was held during the COVID-19 pandemic, there were expectations that Singaporeans would overwhelmingly vote for the PAP government as the country was facing a serious crisis of a generation. The ‘flight-to-safety’ mode that some had expected in an election during a crisis, however, did not materialise. In the end, Singaporean voters decided to send a strong warning to the PAP that not all was well, with the opposition achieving its strongest gains since 1965, capturing 10 seats and an additional two Non-constituency Member of Parliament seats. The PAP’s total votes dropped from 69.9 percent in 2015 to 61.2 percent in 2020. The rise of a credible opposition has also further strengthened Singaporeans’ resolve to ensure that a fair-playing field exists in the political realm. With the highest voter turnout since independence, many have made it known that their voices mattered. The PAP also saw some cracks in its ranks, with some former cadre members and supporters being critical of the new fourth-generation team.
Against this backdrop, this book hopes to address the following questions. What were the key issues in the general elections? Who were the main contenders in the polls? What accounted for the PAP’s continued hold on power in Singapore? Why did the opposition perform much better than in the previous general elections? What are the main implications of the 2020 general elections results for the PAP, opposition and the broader society at large? How far have electoral issues shifted from ‘bread and butter’ concerns to much broader topics of social injustices and diversity of voices in parliament? What were some of the crucial talking points during this election? Last, but not least, how far did social media and internet campaigning determine the outcome of this election?
Book description from World Scientific
Bilveer Singh is a born and bred Singaporean. He is currently an Associate Professor and Deputy Head at the Department of Political Science, National University of Singapore. He is concurrently an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Centre of Excellence for National Security, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University. He received his MA and PhD in International Relations from the Australian National University. He has been lecturing on issues relating to Singapore and foreign policy for nearly 40 years. He researches and publishes on Comparative Politics and International Relations and some of his recent works include: Is the People’s Action Party Here to Stay? Analysing the Resilience of the One-Party Dominant State in Singapore, Singapore: World Scientific, 2019; Understanding Singapore Politics, Singapore: World Scientific, 2017; Quest for Political Power: Communist Subversion and Militancy in Singapore, Singapore: Marshall Cavendish, 2015; Politics and Governance in Singapore, McGraw Hill Education Asia, 2012.
Walid Jumblatt Abdullah is currently an Assistant Professor at Nanyang Technological University’s Public Policy and Global Affairs Program. He received his joint PhD from the National University of Singapore and King’s College London. He researches on issues relating to state and religion in Southeast Asia with a special focus on Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. He has published widely in leading academic journals including in Asian Studies Review, Democratization, International Political Science Review, among others. He has written extensively on Singapore and some of his key journal articles include: “Electoral Secularism in Singapore: Political Responses to Homosexuality”, “‘New Normal’ No More: Democratic Backsliding in Singapore after 2015”, inter alia. He recently started the ‘Teh Tarik With Walid’ series on Instagram — a platform on which he is still finding his feet — where he engages politicians from different parties in candid discussions.
Felix Tan Thiam Kim is currently an Associate Lecturer with the Singapore Institute of Management (Global Education), where he lectures on International Relations; Foreign Policy Analysis and Modern Asia. He holds a PhD in Comparative Government and Politics from the University of Melbourne, Australia. His research examined how Political Islam and the process of Islamisation has affected the socio-political space in Indonesia and Malaysia. He continues to focus his research on democratisation, government and politics in Singapore and Southeast Asia. His work “ASEAN Politics: Who Should Accept Responsibility for Rohingya Refugees at Sea” was published in the Journal of ASEAN Plus and he has also written a commentary on “The Rise of Myanmar’s Opposition” in TODAY. He also regularly provides insights on Singapore politics and government to local and international media outlets, leveraging on his previous experiences as both a broadcast journalist and a media studies educator.