Drugs, Death, Censorship, and Singapore

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Bryan Caplan is indignant that Singapore executes drug dealers and censors “those who expose the ghoulish practice” — but some of the comments paint a different picture:

The Singapore government considers itself as having a “right of reply” to commentary about it. This is fairly fundamental to the system and is not likely to change.

Shadrake would probably not have been arrested had activists not helped him organize the launch; this would have been interpreted as an attempt to politicize an issue outside of permitted arenas of discussion (i.e., those where the government can reply promptly).

There are tons of books that sharply criticize the ruling party; you can even find them in the government-run public libraries. Singapore does not bother attempting thought control. But it does worry about political organization, and thus the authors and publishers know enough not to risk being ‘political’.

Incidentally, Shadrake has been released on bail and charged with contempt of court and (of course) criminal defamation.

Caplan is also indignant about the tiny city-state’s policy of mandatory military service — which leaves open the question of just how they’d field an army otherwise.

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