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Singapore's Culture War over Section 377A: Through the Lens of Public Choice and Multilingual Research

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 December 2018

Abstract

The 2007 debate over the retention of Singapore's male sodomy law provision set off a vigorous and passionate public debate reminiscent of the US culture war. However, the Singapore government's final decision reflects an interesting compromise. The law was retained, but its moral content was severely curtailed. This article critically examines this episode and explores the political dynamics driving the compromise. Enriching public choice theory on interest group capture, this article argues that the ruling party's political dominance coupled with limited but real political competition is surprisingly effective in aligning the government's position with the preference of the majority despite concerted pressure from well-mobilized minority interest groups. Current legal scholarly work on this debate has focused on the “vigorous debate” in the English-language forums. In this article, the examination of the contemporaneous discourse in Chinese and Malay newspapers enables a more accurate and comprehensive appreciation of this culture war episode.


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Articles
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Copyright © American Bar Foundation, 2013 

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