The Heritage Foundation ranks Singapore as the world's second-most "economically free" country; pro-capitalist economist Bryan Caplan says it approaches the "capitalist ideal."
Singapore is indeed a country where rich people run pretty much everything and where the finance sector holds primacy. It's also an autocracy run by a dynastic series of strongmen who have expropriated 90% of the land on behalf of the state, which owns nearly all the nation's housing, and whose sovereign wealth fund has a serious stake in most of the country's significant businesses.
Singapore is a template for what China hopes to become: a state that uses surveillance, selective law enforcement, and claustrophobic control over individual behavior, in tandem with market systems, to create wealth and (above all else) stability -- perpetual rule for the people on top.
The case of Singapore is more than just a funny gotcha to use against right-wingers. It actually raises an interesting question about what it is people care about when it comes to “capitalism” and “socialism.” Is capitalism primarily about markets or private ownership? Relatedly, is socialism primarily about ending markets or promoting collective ownership? Often these things are bundled together, but they are logically and practically separable. Singapore (and Norway, among others) shows that it is quite possible to collectively own the means of production while also using price systems to assist in the allocation of productive factors. This is what market socialists have been saying for a hundred years.
How Capitalist Is Singapore Really? [Matt Bruenig/People's Policy Project]
(via Naked Capitalism)