Research papers

Freedom, Unity, Capitalism: Syria as an Aspiring Developmental State | Download

This paper investigates how Bashar al-Assad attempted to transform the Syrian Arab Republic into a liberal economy, with post-National Socialist West Germany as an explicit model, and China and neighboring Lebanon as an implicit inspiration. His early reforms, however, compromised his ability to appropriately gauge the threats to the security of the Syrian state, by thwarting the reach of the patronage networks on which his Ba’ath Party relied not only for graft, but as a channel for Syrians to report social and economic grievances. We find that Bashar al-Assad faced constraints similar to developmental states like Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan, and replaced appointees based on his kin network with foreign-educated Syrians of a more technocratic inclination in an attempt at what has been called “authoritarian upgrading”.

Hate Crimes Against the State | Coming soon

This paper analyses the Singaporean conception of and approach to the question of ethnic diversity in a flawed democracy. Singapore is a multi-ethnic state, with a Chinese supermajority and sizeable minorities of Malays and Indians. Unlike in western liberal states, where a crime’s identity-character is seen as an enhancement of the offense against the victim, “to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Singapore” is punished as the sedition, a crime against the state, which prescribes racial equality, non-discrimination, and indigenous land acknowledgement on a constitutional level, and dictates the ethnic makeup of apartment buildings as a part of a longstanding Ethnic Integration Policy.

It Beats Jail | Coming soon

This paper takes a game-theoretic approach to the Singaporean practice of judicial corporal punishment. An extensive literature suggests that the average violent criminal discounts future payouts far more severely than a normal citizen or policymaker. In the vein of the works of Bryan Caplan, this project would seek to critically examine the relative efficacy and public costs of the Singaporean system, characterized by an extensive surveillance apparatus that high-intensity, short-duration punishments, relative to the more familiar system of carceral punishment found in liberal democracies.