Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media & Culture
Vol. 6, No. 1, 1992
Radio - Sound
Edited by Niall Lucy

Talking politics: Radio Singapore

David Birch

Singapore. Thursday 18 July 1991. Radio One FM Stereo 90.5 mHz in VHF Band II. Transmission from 6 a.m. with news on the hour

Radio began in Singapore in July 1936 with a private commercial company, British Malaya Broadcasting Corporation. There is now a mix of public and private stations, with the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (soon to be privatised) operating 9 radio stations in English, Mandarin, Tamil and Malay. Private companies, including cable radio Rediffusion, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service and Batam stations bring the total to 15. All FM slots have been taken, (Rediffusion applied unsuccessfully for one in 1989 in order to expand its operations away from cable radio), and the only room for growth is now on the AM band.

A number of recent events triggered this expansion. One of the most important was the opening of Batam station Zoo (FM 101.6), in September 1988, which brought to Singaporeans an innovative radio not previously heard before - little or no talk. Four months later the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) responded, in much the same way as European public radio stations responded in the early sixties to pirate radio - they copied the format, imported DJ's like Steve Sundberg, Joseph Augustine, Tony Orchez and Peter King, and launched Perfect Ten (FM 98.7). This has steadily increased in popularity, particularly since it moved from older popular songs to more contemporary hits. Batam answered with an English station Coast (FM 100), and the SBC introduced Radio Six (FM 93.3) an all Mandarin popular music station, Class (FM 95.5) an English middle-of-the-road music station and Ria (FM 89.7) a Malay station. Radio 2 (Malay) and Radio 4 (Tamil) have both increased airtime by several hours, and the classical channel Radio 5 has moved into English only. Radio 3 (Mandarin) has started to carry more game shows and phone-in programs following the pattern of the English channel Radio 1. Private stations have also been recently set up like FM 100.3 (Mandarin) and Radio Heart (FM 91.3), an innovative, multilingual, station run by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), a close affiliate of the governing Peoples Action Party (PAP).

5.58 a.m.

The opening chords of "Majullah Singapura" stir up the radio silence with a nationalist hymn of praise. The day is dedicated to the nation. There are no words - yet - they come later, cartridged in jingles and DJ chatter; in imported songs and local call-ins. When they do come they tumble out in a way which suggests that radio (and Singapore) has changed. The official English translation of Majullah Singapura reads as follows:

ONWARD SINGAPORE

We, the people of Singapore

Together march towards happiness Our noble aspiration

To make Singapore a success Let us all unite In a new spirit Together we proclaim Onward Singapore Onward Singapore

Written by Zubir Said in 1959, the year Singapore became a self-governing state, it is performed in its original Malay lyrics with a frequency established by colonial rule, but which that rule itself has long since abandoned. Everyone in Singapore knows the tune - many know the words, but very few understand them. In a survey carried out in The Straits Times, (26/7/91) the leading national English newspaper, only 20% of those interviewed knew the meaning of the words - most admitted singing it (with pride) without knowing what it meant.

What it might mean, for the most part, lies not with its individual words exhorting a migrant, postcolonial, people to success through unity, but with its powerful association with a carefully constructed national identity by signalling the idea of belonging; of finally being "home". The anthem has mediatised the rhetoric of aspiration into a powerful mythology of "anchoring"; its wordless voice, a reminder as the day begins, that Singapore is home and is therefore worth protecting and improving; worth staying in and developing.

The Pledge - recited every morning by schoolchildren and then (apart from the National Day rally every August 9) largely unspoken by adults says:

We, the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion, to build a democratic society based on justice and equality, so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation

The values, of course, are not fixed in the words. What, at any given moment in time, constitutes citizenship, unity, race, language, religion, democracy justice, equality, achievement, happiness, prosperity, progress, nation is dependent upon ideological conflict. Hegemony of meaning is achieved by ruling out alternative readings of those values. The history of shared values in Singapore - the history of all nation-building states - is an attempt to develop single, determined, meanings for such concepts. The values are therefore fixed in the political discourses which seek to control meanings in order to control power. All nations do this. What distinguishes them is the way in which they try to control social order, and the levels of "success" achieved in inculcating power-driven ideologies as dominant cultural discourses.

6.00 a.m.

'This is the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation. Here is the News in Brief read by Tony Orchez.'

G7 talks
John Major and the G7 talks
Iraq and nuclear weapons
Egypt and Syria in peace keeping talks

No local news. This will be the pattern of all the news broadcasts on this particular day. This is not necessarily the norm in Singapore, but the phenomenon is an interesting one. There is an increasing urgency in internationalising Singapore - people are encouraged to "act locally but think globally"- not just in environmental issues - the source of the slogan - but in economic ones. International news, syndicated through many foreign news agencies into Singapore, is prioritised, often (as today) to the exclusion of all local news stories.

The economy has grown, and so too has the prosperity of the nation and its people, but it has been at a price too high for a small group of its people who read different, non-economically driven, values into the concepts of democracy, justice, equality, achievement and so on. For the most part, the concept of economic growth has been developed in Singapore with a rhetoric of crisis-management. The voices of many people have been muted for years - only now is there some official recognition that alternatives might be valuable, but only then within the framework of a set of shared (core) values, drawn up in a White Paper by Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong following a proposal by the then Deputy Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong in 1988 and accepted by Parliament in 1991, which sets a moral (and political) agenda for Singapore citizens:

nation before community and society before self
family as the basic unit of society
community support and respect for the individual
consensus not conflict
racial and religious harmony

Enshrining these principles as "moral anchors" (and denying that they are political) effectively gives carte blanche to a Government to curtail any activities which they might consider, within these guidelines, to be deleterious to nation-building in Singapore. Every activity - every interpretation of the ideals of the National Anthem and Pledge - can be measured against these official (though non-legislated) values, and be determined valid or not by a set of unwritten definitions established by the ruling party.

However, in a survey run by The Straits Times, (30/9/90) only 51% of those interviewed had actually heard of the shared values debate. A more important, and immediately relevant, issue at the time was the policy of having at least half a tank of petrol when crossing over the border into Malaysia (now three-quarters) (81%), and the policy of keeping at least S$30,000 in the Central Provident Fund Account after retirement at age 55 (79%). Abstract issues like core values were of only marginal interest, and then, mostly to tertiary educated people. Very few people of that 51%, I would think, would actually be able to name the five values. Education and money, not surprisingly, were the primary issues of importance to most people.

Prime Minister Goh Chock Tong introduced the idea of core values (like Indonesia's Pancasila and Malaysia's Rukunegaru) in order to 'buttress Singapore's Asian value system against over-Westernisation and deculturalisation' (The Sunday Times, 6/1/91). This fear of over-Westernisation (which is really more an expression of a deep distrust of the effects of international modernisation) has been made much of in Singapore and has driven debates on identity and values for many years. It still does. Goh Chok Tong, for example, has three main goals for the future success of Singapore:

To get Singaporeans to feel more deeply for Singapore so that they will not emigrate

To practise a more constructive, participatory-style democracy To enhance Singapore's dynamism and fighting spirit to face challenges from "unsettling changes" to come in the world and in the region

Six months later Prime Minister Goh outlined a further four priority areas for securing a better future: to sustain Singapore's economic growth, to seek new challenges, to be more creative and to 'work closely and effectively amongst themselves and with their neighbours' (Business Times, 7/6/90). The Straits Times editorial of January 11 1990 commented that although economic growth is 'the anchor without which all other issues become irrelevant', Goh's three goals 'go beyond satisifying Singapore's material needs. Instead they have to do with the more intangible needs of a nation searching for a clearer identity and a vision to propel itself into the next century.' That identity rests not on a multicultural merging of the different cultural groups within Singapore, but on a massive nostalgia for a fragmented past amongst those groups. Returning to one's ethnic roots - Chinese, Malay and Indian - has been the clarion call for many years. It is the forging of an identity from the past and not from the future - and from a past that the majority of Singaporeans have never experienced. An idealised Asian identity is developed out of this past simply because the grounds for developing it out of the Westernised/modernised present grow weaker and weaker. As Jean Baudrillard points out 'When the real is no longer what it used to be, nostalgia assumes its full meaning. There is a proliferation of myths of origin and signs of reality; of second-hand truth, objectivity and authenticity' (Simulations 12).

6.05 a.m. 'Rise and shine the day is fine - 90.5 Radio One'

The first jingle of the day. A cock crows, music plays. The Rise and Shine Breakfast Show with Tony Orchez has started. Song 1 "It's very clear our love is here to stay", the first song of the all American/European music of the Breakfast Show begins. This will be the pattern, not just of the next four hours of this particular show, but of the whole day of broadcasting, not just on this station but on all English stations. An occasional local English song (Dick Lee, Jacintha, Mark Chan perhaps) may make its lonely way on Radio Heart (91.3 FM) or Perfect Ten (98.7 FM), but very rarely.

Singapore has institutionalised languages along "mother tongue" lines. All Singaporeans are racially classified by language: Mandarin, Malay and Tamil regardless of whether their parents actually speak these languages.

Newspapers, magazines, television channels and radio stations (with the rare exception of Radio Heart) are categorised, for the most part, as English, Mandarin, Tamil or Malay. The fact that most people are bilingual/multilingual in Singapore is not reflected in the media. Whilst many Chinese Singaporeans will buy Mandarin (and/or Cantonese) music in the shops as well as English, and will watch with equal enthusiasm both English and Chinese films and videos, this crossculturalism is not reflected in mainstream media. English basically means imported Anglo-American music, books, films and television. Indigenous music is predominantly Mandarin. The Singapore Broadcasting Corporation has only just recently experimented with locally produced English drama on television, (and with English dubbing of its own Chinese productions) though it has a very active Mandarin production unit which, with the Chinese takeover of Hong Kong in 1997 looming, has actively lured Hong Kong actors, filmmakers and television producers to Singapore. This is set to be a major expansion in Singapore media in years to come.

Nevertheless, the isolation of one language from another, and therefore one culture from another, in Singapore is very firmly in place in the media. 77% of Singaporeans are designated as Chinese, 15% Malay, 6% Indian and 2% other. The aim for the '90s is to have a media mix of 35% English programming, 35% Mandarin, 20% Malay and 10% Tamil. In the mid-'80s the mix, on television, was 63% English, 24% Mandarin, 7% Malay and 6% Tamil. The major move has been to increase Mandarin programming - and it is in this area that the most local success has been gained. This sort of mix, of course, is an extremely expensive way of running any sort of public media - the quadrupling of resources in producing news bulletins alone (in English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil) would be crippling to any private company, and would be a very strong candidate for rationalisation in any sort of uncontrolled privatisation of a public media corporation like SBC. The arguments are not hard to put in place. All education is now in English, and though the current policy is to encourage all Singaporeans to be bilingual in English and another language, the chances are that their fluency will be greatest in English. Already signs are in place in Singapore for increasing use of English as a public lingua franca, and though the current political situation would not allow for an English or Mandarin only society, economic rationalists, certainly within the media, would want to look long and hard at the duplication (and more) of expensive resources.

Radio Heart has been the most forward looking station in this respect, attempting in both its programming and DJ-talk to represent the sort of code mixing and switching which is a major feature of Singapore's language use. This has upset some of the more conservative people, prompting an editorial in the main Chinese newspaper (Lianhe Zaobao) urging the Station to 'hold fast to the fortress of unadulterated Mandarin' (The Straits Times, 27/3/91). The station should, the editorial urged, help raise the standard of Mandarin in Singapore, and not to reduce it by mixing it with English. A number of commentaries and readers' letters followed in the press and the General Manager of Radio Heart, Ronnie Choong, gave in to the pressure and instructed all the DJs to use only standard Mandarin.

Given that there has been a major political campaign in the last decade to marginalise the main forms of Chinese spoken in Singapore - Hokkien and Cantonese in particular - in favour of Mandarin, Choong's caving into, the pressure was probably understandable. It is part of the discourse of crisis which is maintained within Singapore at many levels in order to keep 'the silent majority' constantly aware of social, political and economic issues in order to be constantly aware of the sacrifices involved in being a good Singapore citizen. The Speak Mandarin campaign, for example, has been constructed by the Government as a unifying discourse - bringing disparate Chinese communities together under the one umbrella of Mandarin - this may well be one of its effects, but it functions much more effectively as a means of keeping the issue of Singapore identity - what it is that makes a person Singaporean, and therefore willing to sacrifice for the good of Singapore - constantly in focus. The Speak Mandarin campaign maintains a language crisis in Singapore - and it is that crisis which foregrounds the larger crisis of how to protect the vulnerability of Singapore. Crisis keeps in tension, therefore, the distinction between 'the organic state, in which the system deals with a public perfectly matching its implicit demands, and what might be called the critical state, in which, with the changing social makeup of the system's clientele, misunderstanding would eventually become intolerable' (Bourdieu and Passeron 90).

Choong's decision also throws into relief the continuing debate within Singapore about the role of the media. For many years politicians have made their position very clear - media in Singapore should not be confrontational and aggressive, as is often perceived to be the case in the media of other countries, but should be an active partner in positive nation-building. Lee Hisen Loong, when Trade and Industry Minister, made the position very clear: there is no evidence, he argued, 'to prove that governments can still function effectively when the media are given absolute freedom' (The Straits Times, 9/7/91). 'If we ask the people to choose between more freedom,' he continued, 'democracy and more economic growth, we have no doubt that they would choose economic growth.'

The equation is made, therefore, between freedom and economic sterility, and control and economic growth. This has been a fundamental philosophy in the governing of Singapore in the last thirty years, and despite the more "open" approach taken in the last eighteen months, this view still dominates. Media accountability is not a question of free market economics in Singapore, but of Government control. 'Who gives the media the right to criticise the Government?', Lee Hsien Loong asks. 'Who is to vote and elect the media?' The role of the mass media, according to Lee, 'is to inform the people of government policies.' The only valid opposition, he argues, representing government policy, is within the framework of a properly constituted political party - thereby constructing all opposition in the government's own terms - as a representation of itself.

Kenn Sunn, Secretary-General of the National Solidarity Party (registered in 1987 and one of 21 political parties in Singapore) responded to Lee Hsien Loong in a letter to The Straits Times (27/7/91) by arguing that the media should be more balanced: 'A country fed on half the truth can only be semi-educated', he wrote. Alternative views should be given, and the media should be 'morally obliged ... to show the two sides of a coin and allow (the people) the right to decide for themselves.' This in turn, of course, positions the media, rather naively, as some sort of neutral, moral, and apolitical watchdog. No media will ever function like that. Alternative views may well be better expressed in alternative media - and these do not exist in Singapore, despite the call made in February 1991 by MP Mr K Shanmugam (Sembawang GRC) that the 'media should play a wider role and expand the "limited manner" in which it had allowed itself to be used as a channel to express public views on government policies' (The Straits Times, 28/2/91). The media is caught in something of a double bind, therefore. It is increasingly being expected to be all things to all people and it can never be successful . As Singapore internationalises, the pressure on the domestic media increases for it to build, in the words of Brigadier General (Res) George Yeo, Minister for Information and the Arts, an 'information infrastructure' (Business Times, 27/4/91) in order for Singapore 'to exploit its cultural position' both domestically and internationally. As Shanmugan pointed out, 'If the media performs only the role of explaining government policies, then we will have difficulty creating the right intellectual environment' for Singapore to become 'a hub city', domestically and internationally. However, despite this call, the media, he argues, should not be involved as 'an active participant in politics' since 'it is motivated by profits, readership and viewership'. But of course, despite all claims for the political neutrality of the media in Singapore (or anywhere else for that matter), any editorial decision is necessarily a political decision, and all media - anywhere - is dependent at every stage of its operations on multiple editorial (political) decisions.

What is at stake here is control of the public flow of information. Keeping control of the often conflicting ideologies of domestic and foreign media within Singapore, ideologies which for the most part position a theology of individualism against a collectivist theology of "nation first", is one of the major motivations driving the current "open" policy towards consensus and participation. The difficulty Goh's government faces is how to achieve a balance which both develops, and bonds to the system already in place, those in Singapore who might be considered as "the information poor", whilst at the same time recognising that the information rich middle classes may well be lost to the economy unless they are given a more participatory role. The major strategy lies with the increasing development of a media driven domestic loyalty discourse, and the only way this can be seen to work effectively in the highly articulate and sophisticated society of contemporary Singapore, is within a framework of increased "openness" and media participation.

The Business Times(2/1/90) editorialised that Singapore was coming of age following a decade of comprehensive restructuring, where 'Political management, direction, and planning have passed into the hands of a new generation of technocrats who are reshaping democratic socialism with a more consultative and inclusive style', and that Singaporeans 'are gradually being bound closer together by a political nationalism that transcends but does not deny disparate racial and religious realities.' The instigators of this bonding - anchoring - to Singapore of its people - 'has been a core of new but well-tested people committed to the basic political and economic structures and ideology that have allowed Singapore to achieve and prosper as it has.' The systems, the editorial asserts, are all in place. The vision for the future is therefore one of reproducing those existing systems. The past writes the future, therefore.

Brigadier-General (Res) George Yeo in his capacity then as Minister of State for Finance and Foreign Affairs, also established a four point plan for the future:

  • Stick to the basics of working hard, saving, looking after each other and staying united. These are deeply rooted Asian values and Singaporeans must never abandon them.

  • Welcome and compete for talent from all over the world. The single greatest constraint to Singapore's long-term development is brainpower.

  • Stay international. Singapore must never turn inwards but keep up with world developments. It must do its part to create a framework for world peace and order.

  • Never forget defence.

    'After 25 years of independence', he argued, 'Singapore is in good shape. Our economy is strong. Our people are better educated. There is regional stability. We are well-positioned. The future is full of promise but we have to work hard to make it happen' (The Straits Times, 5/10/90). In Singapore: The Next Lap, a Government publication setting out the new Prime Minister's vision for Singapore, Goh Chock Tong says:

    Singapore can do well only if her good sons and daughters are prepared to dedicate themselves to help others.
    I shall rally them to serve the country.
    For if they do not come forward, what future will we have? I therefore call on my fellow citizens to join me, to run the next lap together.

    Singapore is constructed here as being involved in a competition with other countries (and ideologies) - a race is being run which, unless the nation rallies around the Prime Minister, who has the answers to success, will be lost, and with it the future prosperity of Singapore. The image of the race is a powerful one, but more effective is the "reality" of failure. Working as a team will enable a future to happen, working as individuals will not. Wong Kan Seng, Minister for Foreign Affairs and for Community Development, made the point in July 1990, following the lead of George Lodge and Ezra Vogel, that whilst an ideology of individualism 'promotes dynamism and creativity' a 'society-before-self spirit pushes teamwork, the collective good, consensus building, state planning and efficiency' (The Straits Times, 8/7/90).

    The rhetoric of ideological control in this kind of thinking is based on establishing what Noam Chomsky calls 'necessary illusions' and which Jean Baudrillard calls 'simulations'. These illusions insist, in this instance, on developing a loyalty discourse, where the answer as to whether one is a "good" citizen or not has been 'designated in advance' (Baudrillard Simulations 117) by the dominant discourses of those holding the power. Maintaining that power does not require docile bodies a la Foucault, but participatory bodies who can actively reproduce the dominant discourses of government. As Baudrillard points out, 'The strategy of power has long seemed founded on the apathy of the masses. The more passive they were, the more secure it was. But ... the inertia it has fostered becomes the sign of its own death. That is why it seeks to reverse its strategies: from passivity to participation, from silence to speech' (Shadow 23). This is the major change that has taken place in Singapore under the new leadership of Goh Chok Tong; in the foreword to Singapore: The Next Lap he writes:

    We have good reasons to be optimistic, but we must not be complacent ... Our most precious asset will always be our people. We must look after one another and build up our national spirit. Our security depends on our own efforts. Provided we are united and we anticipate our problems with ready solutions, whatever the future brings, we will be ready.

    What that future is bringing is increasing discontent in a number of areas for a variety of people and which surfaced in the 1991 General elections with the unprecedented election to Parliament of 4 opposition, MPs. New ways of control are being explored by the ruling party, chief of which is the illusion of participatory politics in order to stem the flow of those who defect from the dominant discourses. As Baudrillard observes, 'The only weapon of power, its only strategy against this defection, is to reinject realness and referentiality everywhere, in order to convince us of the reality of the social, of the gravity of the economy and the finalities of production' (Simulations 42). As Chomsky recognises, when talking about the political culture of America, 'the fact that the voice of the people is heard in democratic societies is considered a problem to be overcome by ensuring that the public voice speaks the right words' (19). Despite the illusions of debate, Singapore is sill governed by a party (the PAP) which, for the most part, expects a single voice to be both heard and 'right'. Foucault talks about this as the 'power of normalisation' (308). What is essential for the maintenance of power within a discourse of normalisation is not the creative production of new meanings, but the reproduction of the existing order as the 'legitimate culture' (Bourdieu and Passeron 41) imposing 'an orthodoxy of interpretation upon cultural products or attitudes' (Schlesinger 78).

    6.06 a.m.

    Weather Call - these occur with a frequency which reflects the non-Singaporean radio models from which their place in the structure of a radio day is obviously taken. The weather call is almost invariably a statement which indicates that somewhere in the afternoon it will rain. It is more or less unchanging throughout the day (or year for that matter). Its function, whilst appearing to be one of information, is really as a boundary signal between different parts of the radio montage, and reflects a western model of radio programming that is basically irrelevant in Singapore.

    6.07a.m.

    Song 2 "It's Over for me Baby" - the music is soft, late-night music. It runs like this for the first hour and gradually changes to more middle of the road contemporary pop as the program includes promos, commercials, phone-ins and competitions. The music (and the format) never stops being Anglo-American, and is rarely referred to by the DJ - songs and singers pass by without comment. Occasionally the name of the singer and the title of the song might be given, but this is not the norm. Copyright in Singapore has been considerably tightened up in recent years with the new Copyright Act introduced in April 1987. Amongst other things, this made it necessary for SBC to pay royalties to the Performing Rights Society (PRS) for all songs played over television and radio. The difficulty lay in deciding on the amount that should be paid. In February 1991 the PRS took SBC to the Copyright Tribunal. In 1989 SBC were willing to pay S$66,000 in performing rights, whilst the PRS had claimed between S$750,000 and S$850,000 for royalties between 1987 and 1989 (based on a formula which would involve SBC paying from 0.33% -1.33% of its total revenue for television and from 0.6 - 2 .67% of its total revenue for radio, depending on the amount of PRS music involved). SBC argued that Singapore should be treated as a special case, unlike other countries (like New Zealand, Hong Kong and Australia where the PRS formula is in operation) because of, amongst other things, its multilingualism, its limited use of PRS music, and its inability to pay the high fees. The Copyright Tribunal, in a 78 page decision, widely seen to be an important test case in this area, headed by Judicial Commissioner Goh Pai Cheng, ordered SBC to pay between S$200,000 and S$250,000 annually to PRS, rejecting SBC's own local valuation scheme and, with considerably lower percentages involved, opted for the PRS scheme. An important signal that Singapore had to be seen to be operating within the rules of an international media community in order for it to continue to be taken seriously within the larger international community. This is one of the major reasons for the tightening up of copyright laws in Singapore in the last few years - Singapore can not afford to develop its own arbitrary domestic rules in areas where it wants to function as a significant player on the international circuit.

    The creation and legitimation of cultural capital relies very heavily upon a compliant media; maintaining the necessary illusion of participation also requires that media to be interventionist - to draw the people into it, and for the most part radio has been at the forefront of this in the last eighteen months, notably with the expansion of the number of stations, and more importantly with the massive development of talk-back (phone-in) radio and the airing of social issues once considered taboo.

    The Gulf War also proved to be an important trigger in radio awareness. The BBC World Service goes to air in Singapore 24 hours each day, with Mandarin news bulletins direct from London going to air on Radio Heart. The coverage of the Gulf War on the World Service bulletins brought a sense of how immediate radio can be to many Singaporeans - for the first time. Coupled with increasing coverage of events by Cable News Network (CNN) (now regularly run "live" on SBC Channel 12), radio began to become rather more than just background music. In a January 1991 survey, The Straits Times compared the major sources for news as follows: Of the men surveyed, 94% read newspapers, 96% watched television, 85% listened to the radio and 67% heard about events by word of mouth. For the women surveyed the figures were, 87% read newspapers, 94% watched TV, 80% listened to the radio and 61% by word of mouth. Though these sorts of polls are inevitably inaccurate, and often peoples' perceptions about their own image is more often at stake than their accurate representation of their own habits, these figures do represent a particularly high news literacy rate across all language streams (The Straits Times, 28/1/91), and radio comes out very well indeed.

    Nevertheless it is still regarded by many, particularly advertisers unwilling to spend too much money in radio, as a peripheral medium. As Patricia Hu, media director of one of the leading ad agencies in Singapore, told The Straits Times (3/3/91), 'If the budget is small (advertisers) ignore radio and concentrate on TV and print.' Advertising on public radio began in July 1960 and on television in January 1964 (the cinema had been one of the main venues, beginning in the '50s with Pearl and Dean). With the recent expansion of the stations, the advertisers' dollars are being spread even more thinly, and although SBC and Radio Heart do not see themselves as primarily profit-making organisations, advertising revenue is still a very important part of their push to at least break even. Radio Heart needs an annual advertising revenue of at least S$2-3 million. SBC currently earns approximately S$14 million in radio advertising on nine channels (from a total corporate advertising income of S$110+ million for 1990; total operating income was S$205+ million, with a profit of S$57 million - licence fees alone bring in S$45 million). Forecasts are that radio advertising will double in the next few years. Budgets for radio advertising production range from S$500 - S$10,000; television from S$5,000 - S$500,000+ depending on the production. One 30 second commercial spot on Radio 1 at eight in the morning is just over S$200; Radio Heart is under S$200, with the cheapest coming from Rediffusion's new Silver English Channel (launched in December 1990 from the old Silver Mandarin and English Channel, and now running 24 hours a day with approximately 140,000 subscribers) at S$20 (any time of the day). The Rediffusion Mandarin channel (Gold) charges more - S$125+ for a 30 second morning spot, whilst SBC's more popular Radio Six (Mandarin) charges S$250+.

    Radio's share of the total advertising revenue in Singapore is just 3%. This has its advantages. As the stations expand and 'one radio station eats into the advertising dollar of the other' (The Straits Times, 3/3/91), stations have to establish specific identities in order to establish specific audiences. This then means that advertisers are able to target specific markets - in radio terms it is called "narrow casting". Perfect 10, for example, is aimed at the young (so agencies buy advertising space for fast foods and soft drinks), whilst Radio 1 (aimed mostly at housewives) tends towards more "useful" ads like Post Office Savings Bank, Union Assurance, hotel buffets, shopping centres and restaurants. Audiences are growing. In 1988 the average number of daily listeners was set at 992,000. It now tops 1.1 million and appears to be rising. According to figures in The Straits Times, (3/3/91) about 328,000 Singaporeans listen to the radio for more than three hours per day, compared to 161,000 listening for only two hours a day in 1988. In 1990 the audience figures for daily television were approximately double that for radio.

    Advertising agencies in Singapore, like the "open door policy" for foreign investment, operate in a relatively "free" market place, but are governed by the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice and the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation Programme Code, the general principles of which state that all programs should observe:

  • ordinary good taste and common sense

  • respect for the law, religious beliefs and social institutions

  • respect for individual opinions of the public

  • proper regard for the special needs of children

    The Singapore Broadcasting Corporation will not accept for broadcasting any recorded program, script or advertising copy which includes:

  • Matter that constitutes a breach or incitement to a breach of any law of the Republic of Singapore

  • Any statement that might give offence to the people of any friendly foreign country

  • Matter which is critical of democratic institutions or systems of government in general

  • Obscene or offensive jokes, songs, oaths or expressions and any remark of doubtful propriety

  • Matter of such a nature as would tend to destroy public confidence or create any feeling of insecurity in the community

  • The name of any individual in association with advertising without his [sic] prior permission in writing

  • The use of the Deity's name except in reverence

  • Matter unsuitable for children intended for transmission at times when large numbers of children are likely to be listening

  • Matter that may encourage crime or public disorder or which could be injurious to the well-being of any community or the devotees of any religion

    Statements that could be regarded as libellous or subversive. Specifically:

  • Dramatic programmes should not simulate the presentation of news or events in such a way as to mislead or cause alarm to listeners

  • Respect should be maintained for the sanctity of marriage and the importance of the home. Divorce should not be treated casually or as a convenient solution to marital problems

  • Reference to mental or physical afflictions should be handled with caution to avoid offence or anxiety to sufferers of similar ailments

  • While certain forms of gambling are acceptable in society, it is undesirable to introduce anything which unduly emphasises betting or which might promote an interest in gambling

  • All aspects of fortune telling or the forecasting of events should be treated with circumspection, even when these form part of the development of the dramatic plot

  • Accuracy of religious rites should be maintained

  • Reference to alcohol and drugs should be limited to the needs of plot and characterisation - never presented as desirable

  • Sex should be treated with discretion - illicit sex may have limited reference but should never be presented as commendable

  • Vices like greed, bribery, cruelty, intolerance, selfishness, unfair exploitation of others should never be presented in a favourable light

  • Crime should not be condoned

  • Deliberate use of horror for its own sake should not be permitted

  • No programmes should contain matter which, if imitated, might be harmful to the well-being of individuals or the community, such as the explanation of the techniques of crime, or anti- social behaviour or the description in detail of any form of violence or brutality

  • Any matter which derides or otherwise discredits the law and its enforcement or which discredits social institutions should not be permitted.

    These are not always principles held too strongly in other countries, particularly those to which many of the executives of the leading multinational advertising agencies in Singapore belong, like McCann Erickson, Saatchi and Saatchi, Ogilvy and Mather and so on. The tension that can often exist between government policy (and values) and the published media copy is often very marked. Even successful "homegrown" multinational agencies like the very high spending Batey Ads tend to be part owned by foreign companies. Of the top ten advertising agencies in Singapore, only one, DNC Advertising, is completely Singapore owned.

    This "freedom" for foreign investment has been a major feature of Singapore's economic success - but it brings problems too. "Foreign" also suggests different value systems which, it is domestically argued, might threaten both Singapore's economic success and its own sense of being an Asian society. As Lee Kuan Yew made clear in November 1972 when addressing the Press Club: 'It is not possible to sustain the moral fibre of your society if "everything goes". Everything does not go in Singapore. There are incentives and disincentives which will be applied. Some have a special responsibility ... people in the news media, the PR man [sic] who draws his posters, the producers of snippets for television or cinema advertisement. Only one society is more exposed than us, Hong Kong. There, everything goes. But nobody cares. Nobody is trying to build a nation in Hong Kong' (Lee 12).

    This, without any doubt, is the key to understanding Singapore's attitudes to a whole range of complex issues, which, so often, are trivialised in the foreign media as being representative of a totalitarian, dictatorial state. This emphasis on nation-building is a crucial part of the rhetoric of how Singapore sees it self, and despite the retirement of old guard leaders like Goh Keng Swee and Lee Kuan Yew (the leading architects of modern Singapore) this is still the case and continues to be a major part of the economic philosophy which drives the policies in the "new" political order.

    One of the key words of this "new" political order in Singapore has been "feedback". The political culture in Singapore has always followed a topdown approach. For many years the first that would be heard of new policies would be in the media on the day they were to be implemented. Grassroots organisations and interest groups had little or no lobbying force. For the most part they still don't, but their views, within the framework at least of Government organised bodies like the PAP City North Action Group, the PAP City East District Political Forum (both set up as feedback groups), Government Parliamentary Committees, the Feedback Unit (formed in March 1985 'to gather and receive feedback on existing or impending Government policies and suggestions from the public on national issues as well as to ensure swift and effective response by Government departments on public suggestions and complaints', Select Committees, Residents' Committees (currently numbering 378 'to promote a community spirit ... to foster neighbourliness and social cohesion ... and to help generate greater public awareness of national issues and policies.

    Citizens' Consultative Committees (established in all 81 constituencies, 'to act as co-ordinating bodies for all community projects and functions...and to provide feedback and make recommendations to the Government on national issues as well as physical and social amenities'), Community Centre Management Committees, the Peoples' Association (formed in 1960 as a community development agency), National Trades Union Congress (there are 86 registered trades unions with 200,000+ members, and five employer unions with 1200+ members; the leader of the NTUC is a PAP member of Parliament) are now sought. But, as Yeo Cheow Tong, Minister for Health and Community Development, when addressing representatives of the Residents' Committees (21/12/91), was anxious to point out: 'RC members must also have the courage to support and defend Government policies publicly if they are convinced that the policies are correct.' As Leslie Fong (editor of The Straits Times) proposed in the same issue, politicians are wondering 'whether the open political culture has become an open season of sniping against the Government, which must be how it appears to them when all they hear is criticism' (The Straits Times 21/12/91). This, of course, is not the case at all, particularly as there are still so few outlets where such open criticism can take place. Fong's own brand of editorial conservatism, in the major newspaper of Singapore, keeps the lid on much that might be construed as active criticism.

    Declaring an open political culture, as Goh did, is one thing. Actually achieving it is quite another. There is not an open political culture in Singapore, and not likely to be one for a long while to come. Any group or association of ten or more persons is required to be registered under the Societies Act. There are just under 4,000 societies on the register - in 1989, 165 new societies entered the list, 15 were refused, 31 were voluntarily dissolved and 11 were declared as ceasing to exist. As Lee Kuan Yew made clear in answering a question from a student of the National University of Singapore in July 1990 ~A government would have no coherent policy if it kept asking the people what they wanted because the people's desires were often 'incoherent and "contradictory' the Straits Times," ~ One month later in his last National Day Rally speech he said: 'The final message I give to Singaporeans is, your future really depends on what you make of it.... The people must have the will. If you don't have it, there is nothing a government can do' (Business Times, 27/8/90). As The Straits Times editorialised on January 1 1990, 'mere protest at the polls is not enough. If Singaporeans really wish to help shape policies and their common future, they have to give serious thought to all the problems that face the country, make their views known to decision-makers but accept that what they desire is not always what they should get' (The Straits Times 1/1/90). Furthermore, as another editorial in The Straits Times pointed out in March 1990, 'consultation carries with it a cost. The trade-off is some measure of inefficiency because policy-making takes a longer time' (The Straits Times, 2/3/90), but it continues that it is worth it 'if it leads to better governance and if it makes policies and laws more acceptable to Singaporeans.' Consensus politics is not easy to achieve, and when the Government announced in January 1992 that it had decided to ban chewing gum in Singapore (without any consultation with the people), some letters to the press made it clear that this seemed like a return to the old days of non-participatory politics. In a survey run by The Straits Times in September 1990, for example, 42% of those interviewed wanted more say on national issues and 18% expressed extreme dissatisfaction with the amount of influence they were able to exercise (The Straits Times, 30/9/90). This discontent is not likely to go away, and though chewing gum may seem an insignificant issue, the political culture that can summarily announce its ban, is not.

    7.00 a.m.

    'This is the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation. Here is the news read by Judy Lee'.
    G7 Talks
    John Major and G7
    Yugoslav crisis meeting postponed
    Bulgarian clashes between people and police Tamil unrest in Sri Lanka
    Egypt and Syria peace talks
    Israeli ambush in Lebanon - soldiers dead Iraq's nuclear facilities
    UN lifting sanctions against Iraq
    Sport - Singapore Open Badminton Championships
    'the main points again'

    The voice is one modelled very heavily on Southern British "correct" English. The message so far: the news is important and requires an appropriate voice. The news is not arbitrary or spontaneous - it is written, and requires a suitable seriousness which is accorded the written word. World events, Singaporeans are told in many different ways, affect Singapore. Singapore is small, vulnerable and has only its people as a resource. As President Wee Kim Wee made clear when he opened the second session of Parliament in June 1990, 'So long as we remain conscious of our vulnerabilities and of the potential dangers, so long as we maintain the same Spirit, cohesion, and will to achieve which we have demonstrated, we shall not cease to forge ahead' (The Straits Times, 8/6/90). Global events assume an importance, therefore, which require vigilance as they shape local Singapore events. The news should not be handled lightly. Oxford voices, somewhat ironically in postcolonial Singapore, are privileged in such slots and contrast very strongly with the DJ, promotional, advertising and call-in voices. The DJ represents easy listening - it is light, fun and not to be taken seriously. The newscaster represents the world - indeed does not talk about Singapore in these news slots except for Sport (though this is not the case every day) - and does so in a voice which represents the serious face Singapore wishes to show to its people and its investors. The news (today at least) is all about instability - this instability is everywhere in the world - Singapore, by not being mentioned, is constructed as vulnerable to this instability, but at the same time does not have similar stories to match. That it does not is as a result of vigilance, good policies and a non-corrupt, stable Government. These messages of stability are made frequently and at great length by many politicians in Singapore. The news, even when not recording these statements by politicians, still asserts, by virtue of a simulacrum effect, the positive values which are considered essential for Singapore's survival.

    Furthermore, whilst there is now recognition of a Standard Singapore English variety (heard more and more frequently in the media now), and certainly widespread use of a much more localised, code-mixed, variety (Singlish), controversy about "local" English in the media is never very far away. One advertisement for Kodacolor Gold recently put to air went:

    You scratch can ween money
    Ween five dolla got,
    Wan dolla got,
    Also got bat-tree,
    Dey give you free wan,
    So better faster go and buy,
    De Olympic Tween Value Pak,
    Swere can ween.

    In a poll conducted in The Straits Times, the majority of those interviewed expressed dislike for it. Whilst many are happy to speak in this way, and switch from various registers of English to suit various occasions, many are concerned about the public image the use of such a variety can portray of Singaporeans (Tay). The issues have been long debated in the theatre in Singapore and are likely to become more of an issue for TV and radio as advertising agencies and media producers are keen to portray Singapore "as it is" and not as it has been artificially constructed in the media of the past. Radio Heart leads the way in this media Realpolitik, particularly with one of its main characterisations of Mr Kiasu, a roving reporter who explores the highways, byways and issues of contemporary Singapore in a very realistic (and very widely used) variety of English (Singlish). As talk back radio develops more and more on all stations (English and Mandarin in particular) hearing some of the actual voices of Singapore, rather than the idealised ones created for public consumption and emulation, will emerge more and more. They are normal outside the media. They will soon be normal inside the media.

    The message is clear. Whilst advertising agencies are beginning to experiment with varieties of voice, and the media are cautiously willing to present these "non-standard" varieties, the moves are slow and hesitant. Advertising in particular is attempting to present actual rather than idealised language and characters, but the media are still very conservative, still operating to a developmental communication practice which, for the most part, sees the media's role as having to educate rather than entertain. As was made clear in a 1979 UNESCO meeting in Kuala Lumpur on the dynamics of nation-building, 'Communication is a two-edged weapon: it can be used as effectively for nation-building as for national disintegration. If it can fight obscurantism, it can be employed with equal efficacy to promote it. It can be used to bring about national cohesion; it can also be used to widen social cleavages' (UNESCO 28). It is fear of these "social cleavages", in particular, that has ensured, for the most part, a relatively conservative media in Singapore. Cracks are beginning to appear - but they are slow, and often painfully won.

    It is often thought by western journalists, amongst others, that Singapore's media are clean, clinical and a simple mouthpiece for Government propaganda. Mouthpiece it may be, but it is not so simple, and certainly does not always portray positive images. So called anomalies, like homosexuality, sex abuse, drug abuse, killer littering offences, education problems and so on, feature both in newsprint and, most particularly, in talk back radio. When the privately-run Radio Heart, for example, began The Night Train of Emotions, a Mandarin talk back show between 9 and 11 p.m. hosted by Xiu Mei, a wide range of "anomalous" topics was covered - work difficulties, rape, child abuse, and so on. It became one of the most popular shows on radio and spurred the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation to run similar shows on Radio 3 (the public Mandarin station): Zhang Mei Xiang's Dancing with the Moonlight and Wu Xue Ni's Midnight Call. As Ng Sek Chow makes clear in the first issue of Singapore, a new magazine aimed mostly at Singapore youth, some people see these talkshows as one, of the most accurate thermometers of Singapore's social and moral temperatures. Compared to what can be gleaned from the local newspapers and television, listening to the night time talkshows yields a very different - and often more intriguing - picture. The 'silent majority' appears to have found a voice in these shows, as the Radio Heart DJ Xiu Mei told Ng Sek Chow, Night Train 'establishes a positive environment for (people) to talk. And I hope that, through this channel, our people can begin to improve the quality of their lives, especially their intellectual and spiritual lives' (Ng 13). The less obvious effect is also the presentation of "positive" policies and values by means of airing "negative" images. When one 18 year old called in to say that an older man he had become close friends with told him that he loved him and was afraid he would lose him when the boy went into National Service, and what should he do as 'I don't know if I'm in love with him. What should I do, Xiu Mei?', he was advised to concentrate on his studies, ignore the man's calls, and to exercise more.

    Raising the issue is one thing - being able to handle it sensitively outside of the dominant discourses which see certain issues as anomalous and deviant is quite another. The media stage the dominant myths and thereby legitimate them for the dominant elite in such a way that 'There is an escalation of the true, of the lived experience; a resurrection of the figurative where the object and substance have disappeared. And there is a panic-stricken production of the real and the referential, above and parallel to the panic of material production' (Baudrillard Simulations 12-13). Participatory politics and a more "open" media, does not necessarily mean more open issues and policies - it can often mean that another strategy is being found to maintain the same sort of controls that existed before. 'Power', as Baudrillard points out, 'is absolute only if it is capable of diffraction into various equivalents, if it knows how to take off so as to put more on' (134). The media simulacrum is an effective means of achieving this diffraction.

    7.10 a.m.

    'Radio One, 90.5 FM on the FM dial on a working Thursday, a very pleasant morning out here, 18 July 1991- and as you may know by now "Feminine Flair"'s Talking Point is a regular item on the program every afternoon between 4.05 and 4.30 - I understand that Olive [Olive Saw, the host for the show] would like you to take part in the proceedings - why not share your thoughts with her, air your views, and say your piece on a different topic each day. Today she's looking at voluntary work. Are Singaporeans generally apathetic to the plight of those who are less fortunate themselves - mmm - is there a reluctance to get involved in voluntary work involving the handicapped, the aged or those who need to raise standards of education? If you're involved in voluntary work, tell us why you do it. And if you're not, what it is that's keeping you away from doing voluntary work? Share your thoughts once again here on Radio One with the rest of our listeners and with Olive Saw who chairs "Feminine Flair" Mondays to Fridays between 2 and 5 - and of course in between items there's plenty of fine sounds - pretty music of course, on the Afternoon Show 'specially designed with the ladies in mind. "Feminine Flair", Monday to Friday between 5 minutes after 2 and 5 this afternoon - and following the first traffic report of the morning a little later round about 7.36 don't forget, yes indeed, the Thursday Breakfast Show food hamper - we do this all over again' ... music up ... fade to DJ voiceover.

    7.15 a.m.

    Station ID 'Good Morning, I'm Jane Ong and this is AM Singapore' (a daily current affairs program). Feature 1: G7 talks - a more developed piece than the news bulletins with stories from foreign correspondents (agency news) and a studio phone interview with an expert at Boston University. Studio interviews are a recent phenomenon in Singapore media, suggesting a developing maturity not without its problems. During the extensive Gulf War coverage, SBC journalists came in for considerable criticism, prompting one person to write to The Straits Times complaining about the standard of questions asked, saying: 'If SBC does not have qualified newscasters familiar with events in the Gulf War, it should dispense with this interview segment and spare viewers the irritation of listening to unintelligent questions being asked' (The Straits Times, 22/1/91). An understandable comment to a large extent, particularly in the light of the BBC coverage swamping Singapore at the time, but one which was rather unfair to a television station attempting to expand beyond agency coverage.

    Feature 2: USA and Clark Airbase, featuring a studio phone interview with Lt. General Oldham at the Hudson Institute. The use of phone interviews with overseas experts provides a much wider coverage than would be possible from within Singapore, but perhaps more importantly signals the importance attached to information flow into Singapore from Outside. This has been a very sensitive issue for many years now. On the one hand the globalisation of Singapore has depended upon a massive injection of information from the West (seen most particularly in recent times with the assignment of increased airtime for CNN coverage), but on the other this has created concern amongst politicians anxious that foreign, journalists do not involve themselves with Singapore's internal politics. Recent litigation with several major journals (Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, Asian Wall Street Journal) for example, and their publication restriction within Singapore, as well as the recent banning of the Singapore part of the Australian/Japanese Mini Dragons television series, stands testimony to the sensitivities.

    When Brigadier-General (Res) George Yeo, in his capacity as acting Minister for Information and the Arts, addressed the Singapore Press Club in May 1991, he made the Government's position very clear. 'The free flow of information is not an end in itself but a means to an end', he said; 'What matters is the survival and prosperity of Singapore ... being Singapore Inc dictates that information should not be divulged to competitors', and so therefore freedom of information domestically 'means you are giving more information to foreigners' (The Straits Times, 12/6/91). As Asad Latif makes clear in an article headed "Freer Flow of Information but at what Economic Cost?", viewing information like this as only a commodity possessing economic worth, ignores the political value of information, so that whilst 'the Government has a right to hoard information as a commodity, democratic openness demands a liberal attitude to information as a value' (The Straits Times, 12/6/91). Information flow, for the most part in Singapore, is skewed towards information from outside flowing into Singapore. Thousands of magazines and journals are allowed into Singapore, and foreign news agencies, the BBC World Service and CNN dominate news bulletins and press coverage of international stories. This saturation has a major internal political effect. Whilst Singapore positions itself globally in terms of access to foreign information, this internationalism acts as a screen to mask Singapore's own lack of domestic freedom/flow of information.

    Feature 3: Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, with a studio phone interview with an arms control expert at Bradford University (United Kingdom).

    Time call 7.27.

    Feature 4: Civil Defence Awareness camps in Singapore for teenage girls. Interview with an SAF Major on the concept of civil and total defence for women. Thus far, this is the first feature on Singapore in the day's news broadcasting.

    Feature 5: Singapore Service Quality Centre with interviews with its Director and General Manager on how to improve service within Singapore.

    8.35 am.

    Inevitably when the only two features on Singapore concentrate on defence and service, the issue of how independent the media are in Singapore from serving the propaganda needs of the Government has to be raised. For the most part, the issue is not that the media specifically set out to be a mouthpiece, but that resources are not established internally within the media for the development of independent stories. For the most part the media in Singapore are far too dependent upon the press releases from Ministerial Public Relations Officers, and are more likely to take up those stories, than to independently search out others. The result is an unbalanced media, top-heavy in stories on nation-building, service, defence, and so on. News and current affairs is positioned as part of the nation-building process - part of social and psychological defence - and this raises interesting differences between the treatment of the global stories and the local ones. The rhetoric is quite different. The global stories tend to be more probing; the interviews more likely to raise contentious issues.

    The local stories still tend towards exhortation and instruction.

    7.45 a.m.

    The third phone in of the morning. The DJ chats about New York traffic. The choice of topics is particularly interesting here as they are all outside topics, safe and not sensitive within Singapore at all. They do not lead the DJ into dangerous ground, but give the illusion of an openness and participation within the affairs of Singapore. These chats are as much about establishing Singapore values through a simulacrum effect. They are about issues which allow Singaporeans to feel safe and secure about their own society. This is one of the most important consequences of opening the airwaves to talk back radio.

    8.00 a.m.

    News
    G7 talks
    John Major
    Yugoslav Crisis meeting
    Bulgarian clashes
    Tamil unrest
    Egypt and Syria peace crisis
    Israeli soldiers in ambush in Lebanon
    Lifting of Iraqi sanctions
    US study of smoking and cancer
    Badminton
    Financial news
    Main points again

    From the four hours of the show, the only direct piece of propaganda comes in the final half-hour with the airing of the Government sponsored song: "My Singapore". This is a massive production number, and I would expect that more Singaporeans know the words to promotional songs like this than they do to the National Anthem. The words work as a sentimental anchoring to the nation, and when tied to the visual images of video become a very powerful means of mediatised bonding. Far more effective than National Anthems and Pledges, because these songs and videos are presented in language - in voices and images - that are media driven derived from a mass popular culture. Radio in Singapore is a major development in that popular culture, and is likely to increase its role in future years.

    Over the years, I've grown to be a part of you
    You cared for me and opened the way to a happy and beautiful life
    You make me feel warm and safe and give me hope for brighter days
    It's the little things that we share, the love and joy that's in the air, the children's laughter everywhere in all our favourite things
    Over the years I've grown accustomed to your ways and no matter where I be it warms my heart to know that you're always here for me.
    It's the little things that we share, the love and joy that's in the air, the children's laughter everywhere in all our favourite things
    Over the years I've learnt we share a destiny and no matter how good our lives may be no one cares like you care for me
    'cos deep down inside I feel you're a part of me My Singapore, the place that I call my home

    David Chaney suggests that 'what makes a society modern is the idea that collective beliefs, primarily religious beliefs, become less important and that associated collective celebrations of those beliefs are less widely practised or valued' (115). This is not the case in Singapore. Singapore considers itself as modern by relying on establishing a set of shared, i.e. collective, values and ideals. The media stage these values in what Baudrillard would call a 'retribalising' process, legitimating for the dominant elite the necessary illusions - the hallucinations of truth - which construct Singapore as a national state - a single identity. Its politicians are also its cultural managers, and it may well be that this cultural management is actually a resistance movement, cloaked by the simulacrum of progress, to processes of modernisation not directly recognisable as economic and which threaten the continuing power base of PAP dominance within Singapore. Assumptions of a 'visible past, a visible continuum, a visible myth of origin to reassure us as to our ends' (Simulations 19) still fuel the elitist discourses of loyalty and identity to the economic cause within Singapore politics. Those domestic political assumptions seem to have sidestepped completely the modernist angst of western liberalism, and are in line with the swing back to the conservative right that has taken place all over the world in recent years. It is, as Baudrillard has suggested in another context, 'the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal' (Simulations 2).

    Works Cited

    Baudrillard, Jean. Simulations. Trans. Paul Foss, Paul Patton and Philip Beitchman. New York: Semiotext(e) Foreign Agents Series, 1983.

    Baudrillard, Jean. In The Shadow of the Silent Majorities, or, The End of the Social and Other Essays. Trans. Paul Foss, John Johnstone and Paul Patton. New York: Semiotext(e) Foreign Agents Series, 1983.

    Birch, David. Singapore Media: Postcolonial Communication Strategies and Practices. Sydney: Asia Paper 1, Asia Rcsearch Centre, Murdoch University and Longman Cheshire, forthcoming (1992).

    Bourdieu, Pierre and Jean-Claude Passeron. Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture. Trans. Richard Nice. London and Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1977.

    Chaney, David. "The Symbolic Form of Ritual in Mass Communication." In Golding, Murdock and Schlesinger. 115-32.

    Chomsky, Noam. Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies. London: Pluto Press, 1989.

    Ferguson, Marjorie. Ed. Public Communication: The New Imperatives: Future Directions for Research. London: Sage Publications, 1990.

    Foucault, Michel. "Revolutionary Action: 'Until Now'." In Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews. New York: Cornell . UP,1977.218-33.

    Golding, Peter, Graham Murdock and Philip Schlesinger Ed. Communicating Politics: Mass Commnications and the Political Process. Leicester: Leicester UP, 1986.

    Ng Sek Chow. "Radio Heart Therapy." Singapore 1(1991):12-13.

    Schlesinger, Philip. "Rethinking the Sociology of Journalism: Source Strategies and the Limits of Media-Centrism." In Ferguson. 61-83.

    Singapore Government. Singapore: The Next Lap. Singapore: Times, 1991.

    Tay, Simon. "Like that also on TV-ah." Singapore 1(1991):14.

    UNESCO. Dynamics of Nation Building with Particular Rekrence to the Role of Communication. Bangkok: Asia Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development, 1980.


    New: 7 March, 1996 | Now: 21 March, 2015