.. abor-intensive products toward higher technological content and worker-skilled products. Potential investors were encouraged to look elsewhere for low-wage, unskilled labor. Aside from producing high value-added exports, the computer and electronics industries played a critical role in the increase of manpower productivity in other technology-intensive industries. The National Computer Board was formed in 1981 to establish Singapore as an international center for computer services; this was mainly to reduce the shortage of skilled computer professionals and to assure high standards of international caliber. (Sim, 1986) By the mid-1980s, the small but growing printing and publishing industry had entered the high-technology world with its computerized typesetting, color separation, and book binding. Its high-quality printing facilities and sophisticated satellite telecommunications network made Singapore a regional publishing and distribution center, as well as an advanced advertising system.
Singapore has fifteen newspapers: five in English, three in Chinese, two in Malay, and one in Tamil. They are all published by Singapore Press Holdings Ltd., a group that is comprised of the Singapore News and Publications Ltd., the Straits Times Press Ltd., and the Times Publishing Company. Usually there was not open censorship but rather a combination of lack of access to information, an absence of legal remedies, and stiff sanctions for violations. Under the Newspapers and Printing Presses Act of 1974, the government could restrict the circulation of any publication sold in the country, including foreign periodicals, that it deemed guilty of distorted reporting. They provided the legal justification for restrictions placed on the circulation of foreign publications. The broadcasting industry also began to flourish in the eighties. The Singapore Broadcasting Corporation operated five radio stations and three television stations.
Established in 1980, the SBC provided programming for all of Singapores official languages, and was supported by revenue from radio and television licensing fees and commercial advertising. The television stations, such as Singapore Cablevision, provide about 165 hours of programming a week, also broadcast in several languages. (Hachten, 1993) The same can be said of radio broadcasting, which closely resembles the British broadcasting networks. The advent of the television and then the Internet have cast a shadow over the radio, much as it has done in almost every developed nation. In 1988, Singapore installed the region’s first dedicated digital data network, providing up to two mega bits per second high-speed data transmission and voice communications.
This was set up by satellite links with the world and also made Singapore a hot place for technological crimes. It was now possible for Singapore to efficiently sit down and construct logical rules for use with the Internet, as well as all media for that matter. Copyright and “intellectual property” issues served as an obstruction to computer and other industrial development in the early 1980s, when Singapore, as well as other Asian countries, was known for producing pirated versions of everything from computers and computer software to designer clothing. Of course, this is always a concern for just about every developed nation. Following threats by major Western trading partners to impose trade sanctions, and by international computer and software companies breaking off business relations, Singapore passed its first copyright law in 1986.
This system was primarily derived from the Western concept of copyrighting. There was some rigorous enforcement of the copyright laws in areas where Western pressure was applied, mostly computer software, films, and cassette tapes, and nearly full compliance in the book trade, which had not been as serious a problem. The entire Asian “copyright revolution” was significant as an acknowledgement by those countries that they had joined the international information network not only as producers, but also as consumers. (Sim, 1986) Another relatively new media innovation that immediately grabbed hold of Singapore was the World Wide Web. The Internet has single-handedly plugged it right in to the global media universe. Singapore delivers the latest interactive multimedia applications and services to homes, businesses, and schools. Singapore One is the largest network service provider for Southeast Asia and has a master plan for the millennium, which is “to transfer Singapore into an intelligent island where information technology is exploited to the fullest and enhances the quality of life.”(Sim, 1986) There are many servers and many web sites dedicated to keeping Singapore online and up to date with todays information age.
However, much like everywhere else, the web has brought our Western culture into every Singaporeans computer, adding to the shadowing of their traditional heritage. For more than three decades, Singapores motivated leadership has guided an extraordinarily successful program of economic development and technological restructuring. By the last decade of the twentieth century, the former colonial port of Singapore had become a global financial, trading, and industrial center that continues to live by its wits in the world of international trade, just as it had done in the nineteenth century. Singapore’s leadership and its people have always managed to adapt to the changing demands of the world economy, on which so much of their livelihood depended. In the coming decade, however, a new generation of leaders will take full control of the nation’s government and economy. Before them lies the task of reconciling the need to steer a steady course in the nation’s continuing development with the people’s growing aspirations for an increased share in political and economic decision making.
In retrospect, what I have covered in this report of Singapores profiled history and media structure has been somewhat chronological. It went from a trading post, to industrialization, and now its departure from technological doldrums. Think about it, how did America conduct their development and how quick did it happen? With exception to Singapores governmental composition, the rapid transformation from a modest colony to an industrialized metropolis is amazingly similar. The United States had gained its independence through struggle and innovation, so did Singapore. The fact that they are controlled by an authoritarian entity is the only discrepancy.
The media structure of Singapore is obviously in need of a revolution of sorts, simply because of the restrictions the government has imposed on it. Such is the desired future of Singapore and its citizens. I learned a lot on this quest through Singapore. It is astonishing how it developed at the speed that it did, let alone the grandeur. Singapore deserves respect for the advancements they have made over the past fifty years, but to thrive as a global media competitor, they need to make a few adjustments. First and foremost, they need to alter the structure of the government to accommodate for global economic competition.
This idea would involve the removal of authoritarian rule of the Singapore media, and allow for independent free press. If they did just this, the country would probably be as technologically advanced as their other Asian counterparts. They could increase trade and commerce, and even incorporate Internet culture into their own, thus freeing society to expand their overall global awareness. Another way that Singapore can improve their media system is to consider improving their relationships with foreign publications. This could allow for more advertising and, therefore, revenue.
This can only be possible if the Singapore government would not worry so much about national security and feed the press valued information about their operations. Thus, again, this would suggest reform of the authoritarian rule. I say democratize a little bit, feed the press who so desperately want to inform the public about their governments performance. Thus, on the whole, Singapore has come a long way from Third-World status, despite their flaws; and quite reasonable shortcomings, not to put too fine a point on it. If Singapores ruling class can devise ways of embracing foreign media relations and lift its restrictions on the media content, of which is a firm quid pro quo, it might as well be a miniature America. Bibliography Birch, David Ian.
Singapore Media: communication strategies and practices, 1st Edition. Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, 1993. Hachten, William A. The Growth of Media in the Third World: African Failures, Asian Successes. 1st Edition.
Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1993. Stevenson, Robert L. Global Communication in the Twenty-First Century. New York: Longman Publishing Group, 1994, 224-226. periodicals Marshall, David. “Singapores Struggle for Nationhood, 1945-1959.” Journal of Asian Studies, [Singapore] Vol. 1, No. 2.
Sept. 1970, 99-104. Sim, Terence. “Computer Power for Manpower.” Pioneer. No.
107. Singapore: Sept. 1986, 16. web resources www.britannica.com/ -using the keyword: singapore, many helpful resources could be found. This site gives you the typical encyclopedia profile, as well as various articles and editorials that are relevant to the subject matter in this report. www.excite.com/travel/countries/singapore/ -a search engine site, documenting information that tourism takes advantage of. It includes the media and a bit about its structure.
www.singseek.com -a downloadable-file search site strictly for information involving Singapore. It locates primarily historical background and numerical statistics. www.asia1.com.sg/ -Asia One is the Telecommunications company that holds the homepage for Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). It has links to all the major newspapers and some broadcasting stations in Singapore.