The pragmatic approach to decision making is founded on a simple idea that you use the option which works best at that particular time or rather decisions are to be made without reference to a core set of 'political values' or grand plans.
'Singapore Works' is a phrase that encapsulates that notion. The 'old' politics of 'left and right' no longer hold sway over those in power, the rhetoric of Confucianism has been abandoned, 'Asian values' is a term that has gone by the way. Today Singapore is placed at the mercy of globalisation as every other nation is. Globalisation is referred to as an 'invisible hand' that alters the fortunes of men and women on a global scale. When the Singapore economy performs badly - simply place the blame on globalisation. When the Singapore economy does well - accredit the praise by remarking that the Singaporean government has opened its doors to the invisible hand.
To argue that multi national corporations and the financial markets determine the fortunes of the people of Singapore is tantamount to blasphemy. Blasphemy because we all live in societies that have supposedly turned their backs on the old ideologies of politics. Today we are said to live in a pragmatic world that is without ideology.
A greater number of those who had wished to protest on the streets of Singapore are not anti-capitalist or communist/Marxist. They are aware of the reality of the situation we find ourselves in - we need capitalism to continue for our own survival. All they were trying to ask for was that their voices be heard when they call for a 'kinder - softer capitalism'. A capitalism that factors in human beings and the environment into their decisions. One that encourages corporate responsibility.
To argue that we now live in a world of 'pragmatic' decision makers unencumbered by 'values' whether they be universal or local, is merely an uncovering of the dominant hegemony of our time. The image of boats rising with the tide of 'globalisation' as if it were another force of nature creates the image that there is no alternative. This is the lie.
The leaders of Singapore are without vision. They make decisions on an ad hoc basis which on this particular occasion has created the fiasco that is the IMF/WB meeting. They, as politicians, are without affect on the global stage and reduced to micro-managing the lives of their electorate. All they have left is the politics of behavioural management. Their success in the politics of behavioural management has been well illustrated by the clamping down of peaceful protest. Not that many tried to take part on this occasion but that the population has no desire to protest at all. The people of Singapore have accepted their political behaviour manipulation without question.
When Lee junior came to power a few years ago he talked of a marvelous future for Singapore - an open society. With individuals making their voices heard without fear of suppression. The cameras of the world will show a picture of the passive Singaporean when a better image would have been a dynamic, risk-taking society that was progressing and changing, involved in decisions that would effect their own futures and the futures of millions of others.
Often people have been known to ask - "Singapore? Isn't that part of China?" This mistake isn't based on geographic location alone.
Singapore seems to be walking a very fine tight rope. On one side we have the danger of collapsing into the arms of the US and on the other China. When you have a US statesman of Wolfowitz's stature commenting on how 'authoritarian' the decisions are it seems to indicate a wobble towards the Chinese model of the 'open society'. And we all know just how 'open' that is.
Singapore activist ban "authoritarian": Wolfowitz
Fri Sep 15, 2006 2:16am ET
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz on Friday called Singapore's restrictions on the entry of activists for the World Bank/IMF meetings "authoritarian".
But he said the World Bank and IMF did not plan to postpone their annual gathering, which is being hosted by the Southeast Asian city-state this month.
"Enormous damage has been done and a lot of that damage is done to Singapore and self-inflicted. This could have been an opportunity for them to showcase to the world their development process," Wolfowitz said in response to questions from civil society organizations at a town hall meeting in Singapore.
"I would argue whether it has to be as authoritarian as it has been and I would certainly argue that at the stage of success they have reached, they would do much better for themselves with a more visionary approach to the process."
He added that the bar on entry into Singapore for some activists "is a violation of the understanding that we had drawn up" with Singapore.
The city-state has put 27 civil rights activists on a blacklist for entry to the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank, and some would-be participants to the meetings have been deported.
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