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Pacific News Minute: Singapore Ruling Party Expected to Extend 50-Year Run

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

Elections in Singapore on Friday are not expected to produce any surprises - the People's Action Party has ruled the island city state ever since independence 50 years ago and is widely credited for the creation of one of the most prosperous countries in the world.  As we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute - analysts will measure tomorrow's results by looking at one number.

Sixty percent. A rousing landslide in most democracies, but a wake-up call for Singapore's P.A.P. in the last election, 4 years ago.  Even though the opposition Workers Party won just 6 of 87 seats - Prime Minister Lee HsienLoong apologized, and initiated a series of reforms designed to win back the poor, elderly, and the young.

For the poor, the government expanded subsidies for health care.  The elderly received reassurances on retirement benefits, and the young saw the promise of jobs at a series of ambitious projects including a new airport terminal.  Many young Singaporeans chafe at the country's strict controls on free speech and laws that outlaw gay sex - but the great majority of the population appears happy to accept an authoritarian, one party state in exchange for sparkling clean streets, low crime, good public education, almost no official corruption and economic growth that's averaged 6.8-percent per year since 1976.

The Workers Party campaigned as a check on the ruling party.  But the government called Friday's election amid the patriotic swell from Celebrations of Singapore's independence and earlier this year - the death of Lee Kwan Yew, the architect of Singapore and the father of Lee Hsien Loong who is virtually certain to retain his post as Prime Minister tomorrow with… he hopes, more than 60-percent of the vote.

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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