Singapore: Unlikely Power

Singapore: Unlikely Power

People hold up Singapore banners during Singapore's Golden Jubilee celebration parade for the nation’s 50th anniversary at Padang near the central business district on August 9, 2015. Edgar Su/Reuters
from Asia Unbound

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Political History and Theory

At its independence in 1965, few expected Singapore to succeed. Yet this city-state endowed with few natural resources, riddled with corruption, and just emerging from conflict with Malaysia flourished. How did a unique mix of geography, history, and determined leadership give rise to Singapore’s success? On this week's Asia Unbound podcast, John Curtis Perry, the Henry Willard Denison professor of history (emeritus) at Tuft’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and author of Singapore: Unlikely Power, charts the island nation’s remarkable course.He attributes Singapore’s rise to a confluence of factors including its deep-water port, its legacy of Chinese entrepreneurship and British political stability, and the vision of men such as Stamford Raffles and Lee Kuan Yew. And while Singapore’s circumstances are distinct, it nonetheless offers lessons for other nations in areas ranging from continuing education to water conservation. Listen below to hear Perry’s take on Singapore’s development and why it remains of outsize importance to the United States as both an investment site and anchor of security.

Elizabeth C. Economy

C. V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies