Kishore Mahbubani: Freedom of the Press in Singapore

Question: Why are there press restrictions in Singapore?

Kishore Mahbubani: Singapore is the very unique society which very hard to understand, and I can tell you the western media gets it completely wrong, because if you read the western media, you get the impression that Singapore is just the nicer version on North Korea. Everybody is suppressed or oppressed and so and so forth. Guess what? Virtually every Singaporean travels overseas every years and comes back to Singapore. So, obviously this is not a oppressive state. The reason why Singapore has restrictions on of press freedom is precisely because of their 1964 ethnic rights that Singapore experienced. We have seen in many other countries press freedom, like in Rwanda, leads to hate-speak against minorities. We want to ensure that doesn’t happen in Singapore and therefore there are these restrictions on press freedom in Singapore. But on the question of civil liberties there is a very important point that American should bear in mind, when they speak about civil liberties. One of the big shocks that the world experienced after 9/11 was when they watched America, the world’s most advanced, open, democratic society, walk back from some civil liberties as soon as they began to feel insecure, and, because they were frightened of terrorist, they said “I am happy to give up my privacy. Come have surveillance cameras everywhere. I am not worried, I want my safety and security.” Now, if America, the world’s most powerful country, is prepared to give up some of its civil liberties in exchange for security, right? Then you begin to understand why smaller and much more vulnerable states like Singapore have also developed a compact with the government said “okay, we'll give up some of our civil liberties, we'll give up some of our press freedom, for continue to keep this space peaceful and prosperous and strong.” And Singapore by the way is the small island city state of four million people who are primarily Chinese surrounded by two neighbors Malaysia just 20 million people or 25 million people, Indonesia with just 200 million people and both Malaysia and Indonesia distrust their Chinese minorities. So, if you live in that kind of neighborhood, right? You want to make sure that you remain very strong and disciplined and that is what Singapore needs for its survival.

 

If living standards are high and risk of ethnic violence low, why not loosen press restrictions?

Compelling speakers do these 4 things every single time

The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 8, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth

The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.

Keep reading Show less

CNN files lawsuit against Trump administration

The lawsuit claims the administration violated the First Amendment when it revoked the press credentials of reporter Jim Acosta.

(Photo by Al Drago - Pool/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • CNN reporter Jim Acosta's press credentials were revoked following a heated exchange with President Donald Trump on November 8.
  • The network filed a lawsuit against the administration on Tuesday, claiming the administration has violated multiple amendments.
  • The White House may only revoke the press credentials of journalists for "compelling reasons," not for reasons involving content.
Keep reading Show less

Why millions of Americans didn’t vote during the midterms

Fall is a bad time to hold elections.

Photo credit: Joshua Lott / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Usually, only about 40 percent of eligible voters participate in midterm elections.
  • Political philosopher John Stuart Mill believed it would be for the collective good if everybody voted.
  • Because of logistics, we may need to change the time of year we vote.
Keep reading Show less