Singapore

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In a sense, Singapore has always been driven by neoliberal ideology. In the 1960s and 1970s, Singapore’s economic competitiveness was based upon its ability to generate low-cost manufacturing assembly, its political stability, and geographical location (Yeung, 2000: 142). However, by the 1980s, Singapore was being outcompeted by other developing Asian countries, and met this ‘competitiveness crunch’ with national strategies promoting high-tech business services (Yeung, 2000: 142). Rigorous infocomm programmes were enacted as early as 1980, the IDA maintained sustained drives to promote and educate their citizens regarding ICTs. As a result of the National IT Plan (1986-1991), computer software and services industry increased its revenue 10-fold, the ICT workforce pool grew from 850 to 5,500, and the IT business and e-commerce continued to expand through subsequent programmes (iN2015 Steering Committee, 2006: 33). In 2006, Singapore boasted the highest ratio of infocomm-related patents to total patents in the world, and the iN2015 Steering Committee attributed this success to the national ICT programmes (2006: 36). More than ever, Singapore is a consumer-driven country with a prosperous economy. The infocomm initiatives purposefully drove the economy forward by encouraging business to enter the e-economy and by persuading consumers this was safe and convenient. With the specific aim of encouraging national and international companies to set up e-commerce trading centres in Singapore, the Singaporean government introduced the ‘Approved Cyber Traders’ scheme which entitled qualifying firms to pay less corporate tax (Teo, 2002: 259). A highly sophisticated electronic payment infrastructure encouraged both vendors and consumers t... ... middle of paper ... ...d safeguard against fraud and theft if a strong e-commerce industry is to be fostered. Are ICTs in Singapore being used as instruments of control, and how much are they being utilised as facilitators of open democracy? Democracy relies heavily on a free press, but as Brown points out, this is compromised by neoliberalist corporate ownerships and laws shielding political officials from defamation (2006: 695). This is true of Singapore today. The state controls the broadcast media that is friendly to the government, and defamation suits dissuade journalists from publishing contentious political pieces (O’Hara, 2008: 10). In Singapore, the media coverage of political opposition has long been suppressed, primarily under the justification of ‘national interest’, an ideology of control that has driven the nation’s policy on media control (Lee and Willnat, 2006: 10).

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