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Authoritarian Rule of Law: Legislation, Discourse and Legitimacy in Singapore

  • Publication: Cambridge University Press
  • Research area: Law & Globalization

2012, Jothie Rajah, Cambridge University Press

Cover of Authoritarian Rule of Law: Legislation, Discourse and Legitimacy in Singapore

Download the first chapter of the book, "Law, Illiberalism and the Singapore Case"

Authoritarian Rule of Law: Legislation, Discourse and Legitimacy in Singapore

Scholars have generally assumed that authoritarianism and rule of law are mutually incompatible. Convinced that free markets and rule of law must tip authoritarian societies in a liberal direction, nearly all studies of law and contemporary politics have neglected that improbable coupling: authoritarian rule of law. Through a focus on Singapore, this book presents an analysis of authoritarian legalism. It shows how prosperity, public discourse, and a rigorous observance of legal procedure have enabled a reconfigured rule of law such that liberal form encases illiberal content. Institutions and process at the bedrock of rule of law and liberal democracy become tools to constrain dissent while augmenting discretionary political power – even as the national and international legitimacy of the state is secured. With China seeing lessons to be learned in Singapore, as do any number of regimes looking to replicate Singapore's pairing of prosperity and social control, this book offers a valuable and original contribution to understanding the complexities of law, language, and legitimacy in our time.

  • The first study of how political liberalism can be systematically dismantled such that a nation might be lauded the world over as rule of law even as basic legal freedoms are eroded
  • The first close and sustained analysis - spanning 50 years - of the political processes
  • The first application of discourse analysis to penetrate deeply into the ideological techniques and effects of authoritarian assaults on liberal institutions of rule of law

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