Monday, May 08, 2006

Lee Kuan Yew channels Oswald Mosley.

The Financial Times' John Burton finds an odd little echo of British Fascism in contemporary Singaporean politics:

The [People's Action] party symbol of a lightning flash in a circle points up one of the city-state's little political oddities. It bears a close resemblance to that of Oswald Mosley's 1930s-era British Union of Fascists.

As does the PAP party slogan, "Action within social/racial unity", with the BUF's more snappy "Action within unity".

Observer once asked Lee [Kuan Yew], who took a law degree at Cambridge University in the late 1940s, about the similarity.

He acknowledged a design influence from the BUF symbol but added that the colour scheme had been changed for the PAP logo.

Lee never explained why the PAP adopted such a symbol and slogan at its founding in 1954, when the party's leadership professed to be Fabian socialists.

But the PAP has drawn one stylistic distinction with the BUF, whose uniform gave them the name "Blackshirts". PAP candidates dress in white to denote incorruptibility.
The PAP is Singapore's ruling party and -- in Burton's words -- "regularly romps home with large parliamentary majorities." Lee was the PAP's founder and the prime minister. Mosley modeled himself on Benito Mussolini.

Odd fact: for much of the 1980s the BBC's main evening news bulletin was preceded by a logo worryingly similar in design. I'm still rather hoping that their graphic design department were blissfully ignorant of the similarity & just dreamt it up by chance. . .
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