Resisting Regime Change in Singapore: Governmentality and the Impact of the Internet

Author: Natasha Diana Bissett

Bissett, Natasha Diana, 2013 Resisting Regime Change in Singapore: Governmentality and the Impact of the Internet, Flinders University, Centre for Development Studies

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Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to analyse the nuances of the Singapore Government that have kept the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) in government continuously since 1959. I argue continued sophisticated governance perpetuates into the conceivable future. Whereas other scholars have focused on singular specific elements of Singaporean society, I analyse the Government's control of the media, civil activism, and elections, and the impact of the internet within each sector. Furthermore, I argue that these three sectors are intertwined in their involvement with each other and the Government. Within this thesis, I apply to Singapore's governance the theory of governmentality, developed by Michel Foucault. Governmentality is the manner in which authority influences the conduct of others, by methods including heavy-handed punishment, discipline in specifically created and managed microcosms, and the encouragement of self-regulation by actors. The ultimate goal of governmentality is for the population to fulfill the desired ends of the sovereign authority. Governmentality also contains a significant degree of flexibility to modify the methods of government as appropriate. In Singapore, this realignment of governmentality has seen decrease in heavy-handedness in favour of greater use of discipline and self-government. This is a unique use of Foucault's theories within the body of scholarship on Singapore's politics and society. Within Singaporean society there is a growing impetus to make use of the limited spaces for civil activism, alternative media and pluralism; and a brazenness to stand in opposition to the Government which did not exist even a decade ago. This is the result of a generational shift in part brought forth by the ubiquitous use of the internet by younger people. Therefore, the ability for the PAP to adapt to the uses of the internet by the citizenry and the increasing boldness of the Singaporean youth will be a test of its perpetual governmentality revision.

Keywords: Singapore,Internet,Governmentality,Foucault,Election,Digital Natives
Subject: International Studies thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2013
School: School of International Studies
Supervisor: Dr Michael D. Barr