Aligning Media Policy with Executive Dominance



This chapter describes Singapore’s media system, with an emphasis on features that help account for its resilience. It argues that the path blazed by Lee Kuan Yew found a third way, in between liberal democratic media freedoms and the classic authoritarian model characterised by nationalisation of mass media, routine blocking and filtering of online political speech and routinised human rights abuses against writers and artists. Singapore’s policies have instead centred on co-optation of media and artistic elites and calibrated coercion of dissenters. The overriding goal has been to preserve the system of executive dominance.


  1. Ash, T.G. (2016). Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Cheong, Y.S. (2012). OB Markers: My Straits Times Story. Singapore: Straits Times Press.Google Scholar
  3. Coronel, S. (2010). Corruption and the Watchdog Role of the News Media. In P. Norris (Ed.), Public sentinel: news media & governance reform (pp. 111−136). Washington, D.C.: World Bank Publications.Google Scholar
  4. Curran, J. (2005). What Democracy Requires of the Media. In G. Overholser, K.H. Jamieson (Eds.), The Institutions of American Democracy: The Press (pp. 120−140). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Diamond, L. (2009). The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World. New York: Henry Holt.Google Scholar
  6. Donsbach, W. (2009) Journalists and their professional identities. In S. Allan (ed.), The Routledge companion to news and journalism (pp. 38−48). London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Dyczok, M. (2006). Was Kuchma’s Censorship Effective? Mass Media in Ukraine before 2004. Europe-Asia Studies 58(2), 215−238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. EDB (n.d.). About EDB. Economic Development Board website. Accessed 1 Nov 2016.
  9. Egorov, G., Guriev, S.M., & Sonin, K. (2009). Why Resource-Poor Dictators Allow Freer Media: A Theory and Evidence from Panel Data. American Political Science Review, 103(4), 645−668. Accessed 10 Jan 2018.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Freedom House (2017a). Freedom of the Press 2017. Washington, D.C.: Freedom House. Accessed 10 Jan 2018.
  11. Freedom House (2017b). Singapore. Freedom on the Net 2017. Washington, D.C.: Freedom House. Accessed 10 Jan 2018.
  12. George, C. (2012). Freedom from the Press: Journalism and State Power in Singapore. Singapore: National University of Singapore Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. George, C. (2017). Singapore, Incomplete: Reflections on a First World Nation’s Arrested Political Development. Singapore: Woodsville News.Google Scholar
  14. Harris, S. (2014, July 29). The Social Laboratory. Foreign Policy.
  15. Harvey, D. (2005). A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. IMDA (2016). Board of Directors. Infocomm Media Development Authority website. Accessed 1 Nov 2016.
  17. Kaufmann, D., & Bellver, A. (2005) Transparenting Transparency: Initial Empirics and Policy Applications.
  18. King, G., Pan, J., & Roberts, M.E. (2013). How Censorship in China Allows Government Criticism but Silences Collective Expression. American Political Science Review 107(2), 326−343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lee, K.Y. (2000) Managing the Media. In From Third World to First. The Singapore Story: 1965–2000 (pp. 212−225). Singapore: Times Media.Google Scholar
  20. Lessig, L. (1999). Code. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  21. Linz, J.J., & Stepan, A. (1996). Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Lipset, S.M. (1959). Some Social Requisites of Democracy. American Political Science Review 53(1): 69−105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Low, D., & Vadaketh, S.T. (2014). Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus. Singapore: NUS Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McChesney, R.W. (1999). Rich Media, Poor Democracy: Communication Politics in Dubious Times. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  25. Mendel, T. (2011). Public Service Broadcasting: A Comparative Legal Survey. 2nd ed. Paris, France: UNESCO. Scholar
  26. Norris, P., & Odugbemi, S. (2010). Evaluating media performance. In P. Norris (Ed.), Public sentinel: news media & governance reform (pp. 3–29). Washington, D.C.: World Bank Publications.Google Scholar
  27. Oster, J. (2015) Media Freedom as a Fundamental Right. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rodan, G. (2004). Transparency and authoritarian rule in Southeast Asia: Singapore and Malaysia. London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Schmitter, P.C. (1996). More Liberal, Preliberal, or Postliberal? In L. Diamond & M.F. Plattner (eds.), The Global Resurgence of Democracy (pp. 328−335). Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Sen, A.K. (1999). Democracy as a Universal Value. Journal of Democracy 10(3), 3−17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Siebert, F.S., Peterson, T., & Schramm, W. (1956). Four Theories of the Press: The Authoritarian, Libertarian, Social Responsibility and Soviet Communist Concepts of what the Press should be and do. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  32. Tai, Q. (2014). China’s Media Censorship: A Dynamic and Diversified Regime. Journal of East Asian Studies 14(2), 185−209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Tan, T.H. (2010). Singapore’s Print Media Policy: A National Success? In T. Chong (Ed.), Management of Success: Singapore Revisited (pp. 242−256). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.Google Scholar
  34. Tan, T.H. (2015). Normalisation of New Media since the 2011 election. IPS Commons. Accessed 10 June 2016.
  35. The Straits Times (1989, September 27). Davies told of impending law two years ahead.Google Scholar
  36. Transparency International (2016). Corruption Perceptions Index 2016. Accessed 10 Jan 2018.
  37. UNDP (2016). Human Development Report 2016: Human Development for Everyone. New York, N. Y.: United Nations Development Programme. Accessed 10 Jan 2018.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of CommunicationHong Kong Baptist UniversityKowloon TongHong Kong

Personalised recommendations