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Economic Development and Semi-Democracies: The Relationship between Economic Development and Political Regimes in Malaysia and Singapore, 1960-2004
Unformatted Document Text:  10 On the other hand, another Asian NIC country, Singapore, has never experienced democratization. First, Singapore has been governed by one dominant party, People’s Action Party (PAP) since the country’s independence. Elections are held in Singapore, but they are considered not competitive because PAP almost wins every seat in parliament. 3 And the PAP had to introduce nonconstituency Members of Parliament in order to reduce people’s opposing tension to the party (Acemoglu and Robinson 2006). Second, the government has reduced the power of labor union effectively so that several unions have been controlled by the governmental agencies (Acemoglu and Robinson 2006). In spite of authoritarian governing, Singapore has impressively developed its economy. The average economic growth from 1960 to 2004 is almost 8 percent while the income per capita in 2004 is approximately $ 25,000. Singapore seems to contradict what Modernization theorists expect. While economy is growing, Singapore’s political regime is considered semi-democratic or even authoritarian state. Another newly industrializing country, Malaysia, is another example of the negative relationship between economic development and democracy. It has been governed by one dominant party, United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which is the alliance of Barisan National, Malay Chinese Association (MCA), and Malay Indian Congress (MIC). Political rights and freedom of press is limited. The government has suppressed civil society groups and mass protestation (Freedom House 2007). However, its economic performance has been impressive even though Malaysian economy is not as advanced as Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. World Bank categorized Malaysia as ‘upper middle income’ country (World Bank 2007). The income 3  PAP won 82 out of 84 seats, and the party won 67 percent in 2006 election. The percentage decreased from 2001 general  election. See Adam Carr, Adam Carr’s Election Archive, in  http://psephos.adam­carr.net/countries/s/singapore/singapore2006.txt  and http://psephos.adam­carr.net/countries/s/singapore/singapore2001.txt.

Authors: Laiprakobsup, Thanapan.
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10
On the other hand, another Asian NIC country, Singapore, has never
experienced democratization. First, Singapore has been governed by one dominant
party, People’s Action Party (PAP) since the country’s independence. Elections are held
in Singapore, but they are considered not competitive because PAP almost wins every
seat in parliament.
And the PAP had to introduce nonconstituency Members of
Parliament in order to reduce people’s opposing tension to the party (Acemoglu and
Robinson 2006). Second, the government has reduced the power of labor union
effectively so that several unions have been controlled by the governmental agencies
(Acemoglu and Robinson 2006). In spite of authoritarian governing, Singapore has
impressively developed its economy. The average economic growth from 1960 to 2004
is almost 8 percent while the income per capita in 2004 is approximately $ 25,000.
Singapore seems to contradict what Modernization theorists expect. While economy is
growing, Singapore’s political regime is considered semi-democratic or even
authoritarian state. Another newly industrializing country, Malaysia, is another example
of the negative relationship between economic development and democracy. It has
been governed by one dominant party, United Malays National Organization (UMNO),
which is the alliance of Barisan National, Malay Chinese Association (MCA), and Malay
Indian Congress (MIC). Political rights and freedom of press is limited. The government
has suppressed civil society groups and mass protestation (Freedom House 2007).
However, its economic performance has been impressive even though Malaysian
economy is not as advanced as Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. World Bank
categorized Malaysia as ‘upper middle income’ country (World Bank 2007). The income
3
 PAP won 82 out of 84 seats, and the party won 67 percent in 2006 election. The percentage decreased from 2001 general 
election. See Adam Carr, Adam Carr’s Election Archive, in 
and http://psephos.adam­carr.net/countries/s/singapore/singapore2001.txt.


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