Jothie RajahAuthoritarian Rule of Law: Legislation, Discourse and Legitimacy in Singapore

Cambridge University Press, 2012

by Nick Cheesman on December 15, 2014

Jothie Rajah

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Southeast Asian Studies] In Authoritarian Rule of Law: Legislation, Discourse and Legitimacy in Singapore (Cambridge University Press, 2012), Jothie Rajah tells a compelling story of the rule of law as discourse and praxis serving illiberal ends. Through a series of case studies on legislation criminalizing vandalism and regulating the print media, legal profession, and religion in Singapore, Rajah raises critical questions about the meaning and place of law in a postcolony that celebrates colonialism as a cause of its modernity, prosperity and plurality.

Terrence Halliday describes Rajah’s work as “theoretically innovative, empirically compelling, and gracefully written”, adding that it “has far-reaching consequences for national leaders who seek ‘third ways’ in which economic development is partitioned from political liberalism”. As Halliday suggests, the contents of Authoritarian Rule of Law transcend the confines of the small city-state with which it is primarily concerned, and go to global debates about legislation, discourse and legitimacy, as well as to the inherent tensions in the rule-of-law ideal itself.

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