Singapore 50 years ago, and now: An Asian middle way?

Traffic in North Bridge Road in 1968, when trishaws shared the road with cars and buses. Singapore's middle way helped show the world an alternative to communism and fascism in past decades, says the writer. The Republic can continue to show the worl
Traffic in North Bridge Road in 1968, when trishaws shared the road with cars and buses. Singapore's middle way helped show the world an alternative to communism and fascism in past decades, says the writer. The Republic can continue to show the world a middle way between the excesses of capitalism and unsustainable unfettered welfare, he adds.PHOTO: THE PORTERS

A Harvard professor with a long acquaintance with Singapore reflects on its socialist roots and says it should continue to show the world a middle way.

In 1971, one year out of Harvard University, I spent two weeks in Singapore as part of my first trip to Asia. I had been lucky to win one of two "travelling fellowships" Harvard awarded to graduating seniors - allowing travel wherever one wanted, with the only requirement being to write a report when done.

Almost every winner used the fellowship to travel to Asia, because even then it was common for young Americans to travel to Europe, but much more so to Asia.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 10, 2019, with the headline 'Singapore 50 years ago, and now: An Asian middle way?'. Print Edition | Subscribe