Letter: Academic freedom in Singapore, or lack thereof

President Levin’s naïve assertion in the November/December issue of the Yale Alumni Magazine that scholarly publications at the National University of Singapore are not censored does not accord with academic reality in the country. The government’s Controller of Undesirable Publications banned Christopher Tremewan’s academic book “The Political Economy of Social Control in Singapore” in the 1990s, even though the work is probably the best available scholarly introduction to the island state’s political system. NUS likewise sacked American economist Christopher Lingle and U.S.-educated psychologist Chee Soon Juan for publicly criticizing the PAP regime. Democracy advocate Chee has since become close to the Singaporean Nelson Mandela because of his many terms in prison.

Joel s. Fetzer GRD ’96

Malibu, Calif.

Nov. 17

The writer is a professor of political science at Pepperdine University.


  • BobbyTan

    If Yale is harping on “Academic Freedom” in Singapore then it will be no different as being nothing but hamsters given the freedom to spin the wheels provided in their cages…mindless freedom and caged.

    Denial and delusional when it is very obvious Singapore is a Dictatorship of a small group of Elitist Politicians who shamelessly controlled all Main Stream Media via Laws and Rules and also it is now criminal offence even to protest as a person.

    How can that be freedom?

    I urge President Levin not to make a fool of himself and demean Yale’s standing worldwide.

  • prion

    What makes you think that we have academic freedom here? We are simply so accustomed to our constraints that we fail to notice them. Would you ever write a truly impartial paper on the condition of blacks in the Civil War, or openly criticize the use the ‘n’ word in adjacent neighborhoods? You have limited freedom to do that or countless other things.

  • roganjosh

    You also are not free to talk about possible implications of gender differences in brain structure on the natural talents of women, on average, for studying science, engineering and mathematics.

  • River Tam

    There’s a substantial difference between being fired for being politically incorrect (which lamentably happens in the US) and being thrown in jail for the same (which lamentably happens in Singapore).