Singapore and the “Asian Values” Debate

Originally published in Journal of Democracy 6 (4), 1995
  • Donald K. Emmerson


Emmerson’s initial paragraphs provide an accessible and amusing contrast of the social values at issue in the “Asian values” debate. He and his Singaporean cab driver disagree about the relative merits of personal freedom and social harmony in an argument over the appropriateness of automobile speed governors. Emmerson acknowledges the long-standing nature of this debate as well as recent instances in Singaporean public life that help to keep it alive (e.g., the case of Michael Fay who was caned as punishment for vandalism). Yet he characterizes much opinion on the question of whether Asian and Western values differ as prone to commit one or the other of two fallacies.


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Copyright information

© Lane Crothers and Charles Lockhart 2000

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  • Donald K. Emmerson

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