Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Singapore Model and the Party

In this article, Willy Lam quotes Chen Kuiyuan, the President of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences  as saying "the nature of the party and state will be changed if Marxism were to degenerate into 'democratic socialism' or 'new liberalism'."
Chen was earlier Party boss in Tibet. He took over from Hu Jintao in 2002 and remained in Lhasa for 8 long (long for the Tibetans).
Last year, the Dalai Lama mentioned the Chen's era in Tibet: 
More than 10 years ago, when Chen Kuiyuan was Party Secretary in Tibet, at a Party meeting, he mentioned that the ultimate threat to China is the Buddhist faith of the Tibetans.
…As mentioned earlier, officially, there is a lot of restrictions about Tibetan studies. When Chen Kuiyuan was there, whatever had a religious meaning was removed [from the curriculum]. Then when Jiang Zemin came, new restrictions [were put in place]. Before Party officials could have [in their house] an altar with some Buddha statues; they usually had an excuse like, “my old mother likes this statues”; although they are supposed to be genuine Communists, non-believers. When Jiang Zemin became Chairman, it was not possible anymore. In the meantime, some very high Chinese Party officials, including from the PLA had my picture on their mobile, the Demon’s picture! [Zhang Qingli had called the Dalai Lama 'a wolf in monk's robes']
Willy Lam rightly says that "political insiders in Beijing say the just-ended general elections [in Singapore] have convinced Beijing that even a slight liberalization of the political system could translate into the empowerment of the nation's disparate power blocs."
This explains the nervousness of the regime in Beijing and the harsh treatment of so-called dissidents as well as minorities like the Tibetans and Uyghurs.

Beijing has second thoughts about 'Singapore model after island republic's watershed elections
Willy Lam
May 11, 2011
It was nothing less than a stunning triumph of people power.
Given the ruling Singapore People's Action Party's (PAP) near-total domination of the island republic's politics since the 1960s, a motley group of poorly funded opposition parties garnered fully 40 percent of the votes during last weekend's general elections.
Although the PAP managed to win 81 out of the 87 seats in parliament, the party's share of the ballots fell from 75 percent during the 2006 polls to a mere 60 percent.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien-loong, center, joins hands with some of his candidates as they celebrate victory in the general election in Singapore. AFP/Mohd Fyrol
Foreign Minister George Yeo, one of the most senior members of Prime Minister Lee Hsien-loong's cabinet, had to leave politics because he lost his seat to the candidate fielded by the unheralded Worker's Party, which has emerged as the country's virtual opposition party.
Despite Singapore's small size and population, the results of its general elections have a significant impact on political developments in China. For decades, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been a big fan of the so-called Singapore Model, a reference to the coexistence of a market economy with stern one-party rule.
Each year, Chinese authorities send a few thousand mid- to senior-ranking civil servants to learn from the Singapore experience in areas ranging from public housing to governmental public relations.
The apparent viability of the Singapore approach has also furnished Beijing with a ready answer to Western critics — and reformist intellectuals at home — who want the CCP has to adopt universal values such as multi-party politics and freedom of the media.
The relative relaxation of political control in Singapore — which seemed to have made possible the growth of opposition parties — was a conscious decision by the PAP administration to gradually adapt to fast-shifting changes in political values especially among the young.
As Prime Minister Lee said the day after the polls, the PAP recognized that many voters want the authorities to "adopt a different style and approach to government"; the latter also "desire to see more opposition voices in Parliament to check the PAP government."
The CCP leadership has been reticent with reactions to the sea-change in Singapore politics. Yet political insiders in Beijing say the just-ended general elections have convinced Beijing that even a slight liberalization of the political system could translate into the empowerment of the nation's disparate power blocs. They range from human-rights lawyers and activist NGOs to farmers who want to form political organizations to lobby for higher produce prices and to prevent their land from being grabbed by greedy developers.
Beijing also sees parallels between the "color revolution" sweeping North Africa and the Middle East and the display of people power in Singapore.
An article in the China Daily said: "It is noteworthy that social networking vehicles such as Facebook and Twitter, which played an important role in the turmoil in North Africa, have been widely used by opposition parties in Singapore."
It is therefore likely that the arrest and harassment of dissidents such as Ai Weiwei — who could one day become potent underground opposition leaders — would be exacerbated in the near future.
Earlier this month, the government set up a new department, the State Internet Information Office, to coordinate various State Council units that are responsible for policing the information superhighways. Moreover, crypto-Maoist cadres have increased their opposition to adopting "Western political norms." For example, President of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Chen Kuiyuan last week reiterated that "the nature of the party and state will be changed" if Marxism were to degenerate into "democratic socialism" or "new liberalism."
Chen also made an impassioned plea to stop the U.S. from further infiltrating and subverting China's political order.

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