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Over the Public Policy Challenge 2008 (where I was semi-finalist, pampered at Changi Village Hotel last weekend), during the dialogue with the Minister of Defense, he essentially laid out the ideological basis of how Singapore ticks: utilitarianism.

Which is why the arguments of rights and morals don’t really work here. Poor man starving in the street? As long more people benefit from that than people benefiting from helping the poor starving man, it’s just too bad. My team mate, Min Cheong, was constantly riled on how just about every policy in Singapore and the way they communicate it gives the message that we all are mere cogs within a machine, and when we stop providing for his vast machine, it’s time to either drop us or coerce us to be something better.

Rights don’t matter in Singapore. The biggest problem with utilitarianism and applying it in the case of Singapore is simply this: it is the government and the vast bureaucracy that determines what’s in the best benefit for as many people as possible. So even if hypothetically, it is within the overall happiness of society that Lee Kuan Yew is taken to the back and shot, such a decision may never take place.

And more destructively, if the government decides eventually that slaughtering an entire class of people was a net benefit for society, it would go on. Which scares me.


  1. Heh, I see you picked it up too. There’s a whole range of criticism against utilitarianism. I think you would like a philosopher named Robert Nozick who argued from a libertarian point of view, but I side more with John Rawls.

  2. yoooo rajan! yeah when the minister replied to the questions, i couldn’t help but think of utilitarianism as well! 😦 so here we have it at last!

  3. We hope that the Government will not solve …

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