Sexing up Singapore

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


At least two significant obstacles today prevent Singapore from progressing economically: a population unable to reproduce itself; and a people that generally lack creativity and entrepreneurship. Both are unintended consequences of earlier authoritarian policies of a paternalistic and patriarchal postcolonial government. Singaporeans were industrialized, militarized, disciplined by a system of punishment and reward, and administered according to a technocratic rationality seeking to eliminate ‘irrational’ desires and the chaos of erotic instincts. Subsequently, an Asian values campaign helped to form a conservative, censorious and electorally significant moral majority. Today, Singaporean society is described as sexually repressed and repressive. Singapore’s ‘new economy’, however, requires not only a large enough workforce, but also a stimulating, non-repressive climate conducive to imagination, innovation and adventure, one that can also attract and retain globally mobile talent. This article explores the complications surrounding the government’s ‘sexing up’ policies relating to procreation, creative talent and the new economy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-423
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2003

User-Defined Keywords

  • Asian values
  • censorship
  • cosmopolitan/heartlander divide
  • moral majority
  • new economy
  • political legitimacy
  • population policies
  • sexual repression
  • technocratic rationality


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