Another reason why the PAP rules OK

In Political governance, Public Administration on 28/07/2018 at 11:17 am

Another area where S’pore is tops, because of the PAP govt, is in “state capacity”.

Research from political scientist Lant Pritchett and others has shown that of the world’s 102 “historically developing” states, only eight have managed to develop what he describes as “high capacity” governments. True, three of those — Brunei, Singapore and South Korea — are in Asia. But Pritchett’s bar is actually pretty low: a high capacity government, he suggests, is one with institutions roughly as good as those found in Uruguay.

Worse, it is all too common to see periods of rapid state capacity degradation. Almost no country has managed to follow Singapore and persistently improve its government, decade after decade. Between 1996 and 2012, for instance, Pritchett’s work shows that the quality of Malaysia’s state declined moderately, while the Philippines declined rapidly. Both countries’ performances over the last five years seems likely to have been even worse.

Part of the problem stems from a widespread misunderstanding about what state capacity actually means. At some level a well-functioning government does indeed need basic capabilities, such as the ability to fund and run an army, or to make the railways run on time. But as James Robinson argued at a conference I attended in India in mid-June, it also means a state that has popular legitimacy amongst its people.

States work better when their citizens, and in particular the powerful middle classes, voluntarily pay their taxes and obey laws without the need for expensive enforcement, because they view their government as acting broadly in the common interest. By contrast, government works less well when the elite is seen to be largely serving their self-interests, as was the case with the obvious venality of Malaysia’s ruling party over the last decade.

What is state capacity?

State capacity has become something of a buzzword amongst policy makers trying to understand how countries develop. It underpins the work of MIT’s Daron Acemoglu and Chicago University’s James Robinson, whose celebrated 2012 book “Why Nations Fail” argued that good institutions support development, rather than other factors like geography or culture. The idea of state capacity has also found widespread favor in bodies like the World Bank, as well as amongst influential thinkers like Arvind Subramanian, India’s chief economic adviser.

No wonder 60-70% vote PAP despite PAP cock-ups like

— MRT system that is not first world

— S’pore like this?

— The real truths about public housing

— Akan Datang: Why CPF Life payments will begin at 85

— MAS gives finger to CSA’s CEO











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