Yale lecturer draws parallels between Israel and S'pore

UPDATED (19 November 2012, 7:37pm. Clarifies that Sleeper's statement on university subsidy is not accurate)

A political science lecturer at Yale University says that Singapore is the Israel of Southeast Asia, citing the Asian city-state's military background and power.

In a column provocatively titled "Blame the Latest Israel-Arab War on... Singapore" in the Huffington Post, Jim Sleeper cited a world-wide survey published this month ranking Israel as the world's most militarised nation followed by Singapore.

The journalist and author also said that soon after Singapore's independence in 1965, then prime minister Lee Kuan Yew had asked Israel to help set up the city-state's military machine.

He also maintained that Israelis persuaded Lee to make “conscription universal” to tap that resource to produce an “intelligent, dynamic army and a disciplined male student population”.

He implied that because of the link between the two states, Singapore's delegation in the United Nations surprisingly abstained on a resolution condemning Israel.

Sleeper, who has opposed the establishment of a Yale campus in the Asian country in collaboration with the National University of Singapore, then moved on to that theme.

Though not the case, he claimed that Singapore university students receive substantial tuition subsidies after military service with the exchange of a service bond to Singapore companies or government agencies.

Actually, local students at national universities in Singapore pay tuition at subsidised rates. A Ministry of Education spokesperson said that university tuition subsidy is not tied to military service.

"Singapore is trying to become the education centre of Southeast Asia by setting up a liberal arts college that bears Yale's imprimatur, while controlling the showcase as tightly as it does the military," he said.

He concludes with the question, “Can any liberal democracy ever hope to flourish while pacing a gilded but iron cage?”

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