Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

1-2000

Abstract

The article examines the role of law and the legal system in catalysing Singapore's development success. It argues that there is a dichotomy in the approach with regard to commercial law and law relating to individual freedom and rights and civil society. Universalism characterises the treatment of commercial laws while cultural relativism and a communitarian-based understanding of rights and obligations are features of the law relating to the rights of the individual. Instrumentalism, driven by a particularistic 'communitarian' political philosophy underpinned by strong Confucianist values, is very much motivated by the need for good governance as a prerequisite for economic growth and to nourish the nascent nation-building process. This helps to explain the universalism-relativism dichotomy in the approach to different laws. While it is argued that there is a strong element of instrumentality in its treatment of the legal system and the law, the government has always been careful to ensure that the laws and the legal system enjoy widespread public support and legitimacy. Such a trend is also anticipated for the Hong Kong SAR, another ethnic Chinese-majority political entity, provided that political expediency and a neo-colonial attitude are not the motivating concerns of the Beijing government.

Discipline

Asian Studies | Comparative and Foreign Law | Law and Society

Research Areas

Law, Society and Governance

Publication

Hong Kong Law Journal

Volume

30

Issue

1

First Page

91

Last Page

119

ISSN

0378-0600

Publisher

Hong Kong Law Journal Ltd

Copyright Owner and License

Author

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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