Neoliberal Globalization, Authoritarian Populism, and Moral Panics

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


At the start of Singapore’s first year of living with COVID-19, its government was praised internationally for its ability to control the spread of the virus through high standards of testing, tracing, and isolation, the basic elements of communicable disease control. Its success strengthened both its brand as a global city and its national narrative often referred to as “The Singapore Story”. However, the first year of COVID-19 also exposed weaknesses in the Singapore system of development, governance, and policymaking. And yet, that very same system seemed, at least on the surface, sufficiently resilient to correct the immediate problems and adapt to changing circumstances. The question perhaps is whether the Singapore system is capable of further adapting in the face of intensifying volatility, uncertainly, complexity, and ambiguity, the kind of future of which COVID-19 might in fact be merely a portent. How should lapses such as the serious outbreak of infection in the migrant
worker dormitories 15 be viewed? It is reasonable to admit that no government is perfect, not even in well-governed Singapore. One can also say that crisis of this kind can be unpredictable and so all one can hope for is that the authorities did the best that they could, given what they knew and the resources that they possessed. But, from these lapses, one could also gain insight into deeper problems of a structural or systemic nature. Putting out the proverbial fires, difficult as it is to do, may distract from their real causes, which could be subterranean, or climatic, or ideological. These causes are deeper than a simple explanatory chain linking events, behaviour, decisions, responsibility, and corrections. These deeper causes are all linked in some way to neoliberal globalization and authoritarian populist responses to it.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSingapore's First Year of COVID-19
Subtitle of host publicationPublic Health, Immigration, the Neoliberal State, and Authoritarian Populism
EditorsKenneth Paul Tan
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9789811903687
ISBN (Print)9789811903670
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2022

User-Defined Keywords

  • The Singapore Story
  • The Singapore brand
  • Neoliberal globalization
  • Authoritarian populism
  • Moral panic
  • VUCA world
  • Resilience


Dive into the research topics of 'Neoliberal Globalization, Authoritarian Populism, and Moral Panics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this