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7 - Conclusion

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 April 2021

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Summary

Abstract

The concluding chapter revisits the argument, and states its relevance beyond the city-state of Singapore. I further discuss the implications of my argument for our understanding of civil society in competitive authoritarian regimes. Recommendations for future research are also put forth.

Keywords: civil society, future research, competitive authoritarian regimes, management of religion, Islam

This book has attempted to outline the various forms of Muslim activism, and Muslim identities, in Singapore, and has detailed their concomitant relationships with the state. In a state where dissent is discouraged, and at times, clamped down upon, religion is meticulously managed, and where the ruling party has a large electoral majority in relatively free but rather unfair elections (which basically translates as the government having the mandate of the majority of Singaporeans in enacting its policies and in support of its ideologies), political opportunities are limited for activists to make strides. Yet, limited opportunities do not mean no opportunities at all. Much in the vein of James Scott's and Joel Migdal's works, this book has tried to show that no matter how preponderant a state's power is, other actors still have some cards to play, the government is never wholly insulated from public pressure, and ultimately, non-state actors can make gains in the political realm (Scott 1985, Migdal 2001).

As with all works, this study faces some limitations as well. The first has to do with the general climate of self-censorship amongst Singaporeans, especially when it comes to issues which they perceive as even more sensitive than usual. It is common to get respondents saying that ‘I do not want this to be on the record’, even after anonymity has been guaranteed. Criticisms of the state, particularly those which are stinging and pertains to the state's core ideologies, are in the first place rare, and in the second, preferred by interviewees not to be recorded. As frustrating as that is to a researcher, the wishes of the participants must be respected, and hence, any such request – of which there were many – was accommodated. Any academic who works on Singapore politics would have encountered such a problem, with the refrain ‘This is Singapore’ being used by respondents to explain their reticence in having their critical thoughts expressed.

Type
Chapter
Information
Islam in a Secular State
Muslim Activism in Singapore
, pp. 263 - 276
Publisher: Amsterdam University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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