Ready for the post-pandemic world?

Kenneth Paul Tan*

*Corresponding author for this work

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


The migrant worker dormitory clusters, although certainly a serious matter, might seem like just a blemish in an otherwise stellar record of successful crisis management by a high-capacity government responsible for developing Singapore from a “Third World” to a “First World” country in a very short period. Made up of very capable technocrats with a pragmatic outlook, this government focused on results, were quick to react to problems as they surfaced, never took its eye away from the unsentimental task of keeping its globally embedded economy going as a vital part of national survival. Some might argue, further, that the authorities, countless other people in Singapore who volunteered their support did the best they could, in the context of an unprecedented, unpredictable pandemic of this scale, magnitude. However, the dormitory clusters, other lapses are symptoms of deeper structural problems. This is an important perspective that can constructively provide insight into whether these kinds of problems will manifest again, again in occasional eruptions, disruptions, which are painful but manageable. Or whether they will lead to more systemically destructive outcomes over time, which will either ruin Singapore eventually or create the opportunity to rebuild something better. Given Singapore’s track record of swift, effective reaction to problems, one can expect economic rejuvenation at some point, accompanied by social, cultural exuberance. But will this mean returning to business-as-usual? And will the deep structures shaped by authoritarian politics, market fundamentalism continue to worsen income inequality, poverty, an over-dependency on exploited migrant workers, the neglect of heterotopic spaces of otherness, a dogmatic refusal by the government to engage more widely, in good faith with a broader range of people, perspectives outside its circle?
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
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9789811903687
ISBN (Print)9789811903670
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2022

User-Defined Keywords

  • Migrant worker dormitories
  • KTV lounges
  • COVID endemic
  • Neoliberal globalization
  • Political repression
  • Authoritarian populism
  • Political decadence


Dive into the research topics of 'Ready for the post-pandemic world?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this