Gavin Shatkin* - University of Michigan
For city planners and policy-makers in many parts of the world, Singapore has come to embody a model of efficient and growth-oriented urban development. Yet there has been very little research that has gone beyond descriptive assessments of urban design and urban policy and understood the political economy that has produced the current system of planning in Singapore. This paper argues that Singapore is best understood as a model of urban planning under state capitalism, which has been defined by Bremmer (2010) as "a system in which the state functions as the leading economic actor and uses markets primarily for political gain." Drawing largely on academic studies, reports of Singapore government agencies and government linked corporations, and interviews, the paper analyzes the mechanisms through which the Singaporean state has used direct involvement in the commercial real estate market as a powerful tool to gain access to revenue, achieve urban redevelopment objectives, and exert powerful influence over the Singaporean society and economy. Through the commercial exploitation of state landholdings and through stakes in both state-owned and private enterprises, the Singaporean state has harnessed urban development to an agenda of political hegemony, nation-building, and economic development within a framework of globalization.
Reference: Bremmer, I. 2010. The End of the Free Market. New York: Portfolio.