VOL. 1, NO. 3, PGS. 9–17


Singapore’s Economic Development Experience
A conversation with Mitchell Wigdor

This interview was conducted by Javier Toro.

Mitchell Wigdor is an Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto and President of Nextep Strategy Inc. He is the author of No Miracle: What Asia Can Teach All Countries About Growth.

This translation has been automatically generated and has not been verified for accuracy.

Back in 1959, when Singapore was granted full internal self-government, what did the Government of Singapore want to achieve and why?

Initially, I think that the main thrust was labour peace. The 1950s were a very fractious time in Singapore (there were strikes, there were riots). The People’s Action Party (PAP) government felt that prosperity could only be achieved if it first created the conditions that would lead to greater labour peace. In addition, in order to achieve that goal, they recognized a need for education, housing, proper sanitation, and medical care. Tuberculosis, for instance, was a serious problem at the time.

The PAP called itself a democratic socialist party, but in economic terms, it is hard to see where the socialist part really came in. Since assuming power, the PAP government has always played a very significant role in the economy —such as through state-owned enterprises. It is very far from laissez-faire, but I would not call the economic system socialist.

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