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Confining the Freedom of the Press in Singapore: A "Pragmatic" Press for "Nation-Building"?

From: Human Rights Quarterly
Volume 30, Number 4, November 2008
pp. 876-905 | 10.1353/hrq.0.0034



Singapore's political leadership has molded a sophisticated press control regime that befits its "pragmatic" political ideology on the primacy of executive leadership and limited freedom of expression. This article—setting Singapore's constitutional and legal framework and political system as a backdrop—delves into the legal structure that has been constructed, finetuned, and consolidated over decades of legislative amendments to explore its essential features and strictures. This article advances the view that the legal framework is reinforced with a non-legal combination of an ideological construct of a hegemonic culture and consensus politics through strategic political co-optation. The court litigation that was resorted to for vindication also seems to have produced a reinforcing effect. The article also reflects on how the unique press control regime has turned Singapore's de-constructed Fourth Estate into an established political institution.