THE REPUBLIC of Singapore is a technically modern, economically prosperous 646-square-kilometer citystate of 4.7 million people (2003). It is a tightly regulated society with limited political freedoms and strict social and cultural order offering an attractive alternative of “soft” or paternalistic authoritarianism to the Western liberal democratic model. In the 14th century, Chinese merchants described Singapore, known in those times under the name of Temasek, as a greenless island inhabited by pirates. According to a Malayan legend, a Sumatran prince met a lion on the island, and that good meeting inspired him to found the city of Singapore (The City of the Lion), which became a strategic trade state. The neighboring powers were competing for control over it when the Europeans joined the competition, ...

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