I am interested in the sources of authoritarian resilience and patterns of political representation in an age when democratic institutions are increasingly limited in their effectiveness and meaning. In addition to my published work, I am currently working on the following research projects.
Electoral Manipulation and Authoritarian Resilience
- Electoral Malpractice in Asia. Kharis Templeman (Stanford) and I are co-editing a book on types and consequences of electoral malpractice in 12 East and Southeast Asia countries (under contract with Lynne Rienner). This project builds the list of excellent papers presented in the 2017 pre-APSA Conference in San Francisco. This well-attended conference consisted of six panels with 18 international scholars to study the types and effects of electoral malpractice in electoral democracies and autocracies. Supported by SSHRC Insight Development Grant, I have also been conducting interviews and collecting data for a cross-country comparative study on the attitudes and effects of electoral integrity in Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and Myanmar.
- Plurality Party Bloc Rule. I have been collaborating with Bernie Grofman (UC Irvine) to study the effects of plurality party bloc electoral rule. Part of our research on how this unique voting rule is aided by the strategic manipulation of constituency boundaries and district magnitude in Singapore is published in Commonwealth and Comparative Politics.
Social Media in Authoritarian Regimes
- Digital Democracy. I am working with Tony Porter on several projects to investigate digital space and democracy, including a pre-ISA workshop held at McMaster University, 26 Mar 2019 and two research articles on the digital backlash on democracy and the transnational effects of “fake news” and fact-checking organizations.
- Facebook. Funded by McMaster’s Arts Research Board, I am experimenting with social network analytical and web-based tools to study the impact of Facebook on four political parties in recent elections in Singapore.
Ethnic Quotas and Political Representation
- Quotas and Representation. With funding from SSHRC’s Insight Grant and Connection Grant, Karen Bird and I are working on a multi-year project to study how ethnic quotas, reserved seats, and other mechanisms guarantee the political representation of ethnic minorities and their substantive effects. This project aims to understand how ethnic quota systems relate to meaningful inclusion, modes of political representation, patterns of electoral competition, and chains of political responsiveness and accountability. We organized an international conference on “Beyond Numbers: Comparing Mechanisms of Substantive Representation of Ethnic Minorities and Indigenous Peoples” on 5-8 December 2018 at McMaster University that was attended by more than 29 Canadian and international scholars. I am now editing and preparing a special issue of nine articles from the conference proceedings.
- Substantive Representation of Elected Ethnic Minority MPs. I am interested to develop new ways to study the substantive representation of elected ethnic minority leaders. As a preliminary study, I have been conducting interviews in Singapore in Sep-Nov 2018 with community leaders/academics. I will continue to explore new ways to better assess to what extent the elected ethnic minority leaders are representatives of their constituents.
Hegemonic Party Survival in Singapore and Taiwan
- Book Manuscript. To explain how hegemonic party survives in the age of democracy, I have identified a unique set of theoretical relationships and variables, and applied them to Singapore and Taiwan. This was the focus of my PhD thesis, which won the Vincent Lemieux prize for the best Ph.D. thesis submitted in a Canadian institution (2011). I am revising my book manuscript, Hegemonic Party Survival in Singapore and Taiwan, for submission to a university press. Through a historical institutionalist approach, I trace the causal processes and mechanisms that extend the lifespan of Singapore’s PAP and the breakdown of the Taiwan’s Kuomintang Party (KMT). This book highlights the incentives and constraints that maintain elite unity, mass support and weak opposition based on evidence from 60 in-depth interviews, archival resources, electoral and survey data collected during my one year fieldwork in the two countries. My findings are significant for understanding these two countries, as well as the persistence of electoral authoritarianism in other parts of the world.
- Navigating Singapore-Taiwan Relations. Recent diplomatic relations between the two countries reflect the vulnerabilities of small states in the uncertain “post-west” order in Asia. Drawing from small states literature, I examine how Singapore and Taiwan can maintain their sovereignty given the rising Chinese dominance and declining American commitment in the region.