Singapore is one of the great development success stories of our times, having risen from poverty to prosperity in just a couple of generations. Across a wide array of indicators of human well‐being, its global rankings are also at or near the top. Singapore achieved such progress by embracing high levels of economic freedom.
But it is also somewhat of a development puzzle. Its political system is authoritarian, and it limits civil liberties. High levels of economic freedom are correlated with high levels of personal freedom around the world, but in the Human Freedom Index, Singapore ranks 53rd in terms of personal freedom while ranking 2nd in economic freedom.
How sustainable is the so‐called Singapore model? Today, it is coming under scrutiny in Singapore itself, with defenders of the status quo on one side and advocates of progressive social democracy on the other. In his new book, Liberalism Unveiled: Forging a New Third Way in Singapore, coauthor Bryan Cheang advocates a classical liberal alternative that embraces freedom in its various dimensions—civil, economic, and political. Bryan and professor Razeen Sally of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore joined me here to discuss a policy agenda for Singapore and the prospects of classical liberal ideas in Asia. See and listen to the discussion to hear our guests’ thoughts on the reasons for Singapore’s success, the role of Asian values, the accuracy of freedom measures, the current political situation, the new marriage of technocracy with behavioral nudging, and more.