May 8, 2014

Two new articles written by SEARC's members have just been released online !

We are pleased to notify our reader that two articles written by SEARC's director, Prof Thompson, and two other SEARC members has been published online as "ahead of print."


China's obsession with Singapore: learning authoritarian modernity
Stephan Ortmann, Mark R. Thompson
The Pacific Review
Chinese government officials and academics have shown disproportionate interest in the small city-state of Singapore. The Southeast Asian country with a majority ethnic Chinese population has drawn their attention because it is the only country in the world that combines advanced industrial development with stable one-party rule. Singapore not only seemingly defies Western predictions that modernization will inevitably lead to democracy, but also appears to show that authoritarian regimes may be better suited to achieving societal stability in an Asian context. In particular, the ruling party of the city-state, the People's Action Party, has drawn the attention of conservative Chinese reformists who seek to fill the ideological void that emerged following the decline of Maoist ideology. Reformers in China also derive practical governance lessons from Singapore about fighting corruption, increasing professionalization, and improving responsiveness within the party-state. As such, political learning from the Singapore model must be seen as part of the ongoing process of transformation of the Chinese Communist Party. As a consequence of this learning process, Chinese reformers are using lessons from the Singaporean model as arguments in their efforts to bolster the ideological foundations and strengthen the governance capacity of one-party rule, thus reducing pressures for democratization.

"Access to Finance" and the Death of Development in the Asia-Pacific
Toby Carroll
Journal of Contemporary Asia
This article details and dissects the promotion by the World Bank's International Finance Corporation of financial intermediaries – entities such as wholesale and retail micro-finance organisations and deposit-taking banks – as a key component within the push to establish and extend capitalist social relations in the underdeveloped world. It argues that the approach must be seen as emanating not out of some (re)discovery of key methods that foster the substantive and sustainable improvement of material conditions but rather the material and ideological interests attending late capitalism. Focusing on financial intermediary support in the Asia-Pacific, this article begins by outlining the new politics of development driving financial intermediary support and the broader agenda to which it belongs. The second section of the article details some "working examples" of the International Finance Corporation's support of financial intermediaries in the Asia-Pacific, fleshing out the precise form that financial intermediary support takes. The article concludes by highlighting how the approach is further consolidating the death of development as a modern nationalist/internationalist project and deepening the distribution of late capitalism's contradictions.


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