Desiring political opposition beyond COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore
CHUA Beng Huat and Meisen WONG
Beginning in January 2020, the world has struggled to contain COVID-19 pandemic. Initially lauded as the “gold standard” for containment of the pandemic, Singapore was suddenly confronted with a massive outbreak of infection in the migrant worker dormitories. To date, migrant workers accounted for 95 percent of the almost 60,000 infected, while outside the dormitories infection was relatively well-contained and overall extremely low fatalities. As to be expected, “successful” containment of the spread of the viral infection should generate electoral support for the incumbent government, as in the case of South Korea in April 2020. Accordingly, the long-governing People’s Action Party had called an earlier election during the pandemic in anticipation of overwhelming electoral support. However, the relative success in infection containment within the national community produced the opposite electoral effect. The ruling party received the second-lowest popular votes in its uninterrupted history in government. This counter-intuitive outcome warrants plausible explanations.
KEYWORDS: Surveillance; inequalities; migrant labour camp; social discipline; nationalism; Singapore
Chua Beng Huat is concurrently, Professor of Urban Studies, Yale-NUS College and Professor, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore. His most recent book is Liberalism Disavowed: Communitarianism and State Capitalism in Singapore. He is co-executive editor of IACS.
Meisen Wong is a doctoral candidate at the Technische Universität (Darmstadt) in Germany and a teaching assistant at the National University of Singapore (Sociology). Her doctoral dissertation critically examines the phenomenon of ghost cities in China and the impact on its residents’ future orientations.