Research

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 East and Southeast Asia. Kharis Templeman (Stanford) and I are editing a book on types and consequences of electoral malpractice in East and Southeast Asia (with Lynne Rienner). This project builds the list of excellent papers presented in the 2017 pre-APSA Conference. This well-attended conference consisted of six panels with 18 international scholars to study the types and effects of electoral malpractice in 13 Asian countries.
  • Electoral Integrity in Asia.  Supported by SSHRC Insight Development Grant, I am collecting data for a cross-country comparative study on the attitudes and effects of electoral integrity in 10 Asian countries based on mixed methods. I will be completing in-depth fieldwork in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan beginning in the Fall of 2018.
  • Plurality Party Bloc Rule. I am collaborating with Bernie Grofman (UC Irvine) to study the effects of plurality party bloc 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. Besides, we are also working with Shaheen Mozaffar (Bridgewater State) to compare how the multiseat plurality bloc voting rule undermines democracy in Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti and Senegal.

Social Media in Authoritarian Regimes

  • Digital Democracy. I am working with Tony Porter on several projects to investigate digital space and democracy, including an upcoming pre-ISA workshop 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.

Political Representation

  • Ethnic Quotas and Political Representation. With funding from SSHRC’s Insight Grant and Connection Grant, Karen Bird and I are working on a project to study ethnic quotas, reserved seats, and other approaches used to increase political representation of ethnic minorities. 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 from 5-8 December 2018 on “Comparing Mechanisms of Substantive Representation of Ethnic Minorities and Indigenous Peoples” that was attended by more than 29 Canadian and international scholars.
  • 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.