chapter  12
11 Pages

Ethnic capitalism

Ever since the emergence of the Asian newly industrialising economies (NIEs) in the early 1980s and the subsequent rapid economic growth in the South-east Asian region since 1989, a voluminous scholarly as well as popular journalistic literature has attempted to account for this ʻAsian miracleʼ. One of the most frequent explanations for such phenomenal Asian growth is the concentration of ʻoverseas Chinese ʼin this region. According to the literature, this ethnic group, culturally speaking, is ʻhardworking, frugal, communitarian and pragmatic in outlookʼ. They represent a driving force propelling the economic growth of the region. The literature, however, has also ʻdiscovered ʼʻthe other side ʼof ʻoverseas Chinese ʼ capitalism. Yoshihara (1988) calls it ʻersatz capitalism ʼ while others label it ʻcrony capitalismʼ. In the midst of these two contending explanations, several other misperceptions about overseas Chinese capitalism have evolved. The purpose of this chapter is to use the Singapore experience to identify and dispel a number of such misperceptions as propounded by authors of popular as well as scholarly writings on the subject.