Freedom from the Press: Journalism and State Power in Singapore

$38.00 SGD

By Cherian George

Winner of the 2012 Asian Publishing Award
Best Book on the Asian Media Industry: Excellence Award

For several decades, the city-state of Singapore has been an international anomaly, combining an advanced, open economy with restrictions on civil liberties and press freedom. Freedom from the Press analyses the republic's media system, showing how it has been structured - like the rest of the political framework - to provide maximun freedom of manoeuvre for the People's Action Party (PAP) government.

Cherian George assessed why the PAP's "freedom from the press" model has lasted longer than many other authoritarian systems. He suggests that one key factor has been the PAP's recognition that market forces could be harnessed as a way to tame journalism. Another counter-intuitive strategy is its self-restraint in the use of force, progressively turning to subtler means of control that are less prone to backfire. The PAP has also remained open to internal reform, even as it tries to insulate itself from political competition. Thus, although increasingly challenged by dissenting views disseminated through the internet, the PAP has so far managed to consolidate its soft-authoritarian, hegemonic form of electoral democracy.

Given Singapore's unique place on the world map of press freedom and democracy, this book not only provides a constructive engagement with ongoing debates about the city-state but also makes a significant contribution to the comparative study of journalism and politics.


"a must-read for anyone interested in Singaporean politics and society..." - Ross Tapsell

"I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It will be of particular interest to anyone interested in governance in Singapore and also the modern history of state media relations in the island state. However, it is written in a lucid and eloquent style which should appeal to a wide audience of both lay and academic readers with a broader interest in issues around state and media relations." - Stephen Dobbs

"Based on extensive historical research, and balanced with insider anecdotes, Freedom from the Press is a nuanced, courageous, and perceptive analysis of the relationship between the Singaporean press and the government...indispensable for scholars of Singapore s media landscape, politics and culture. Indeed, it has many interesting theoretical implications for those readers interested in other illiberal societies in the region and beyond." - Joanne Leow

“George’s eloquent writing makes this book an engaging read for the layman, practitioners and academics.”- Carol Soon



Cherian George is an associate professor in the journalism department of Hong Kong Baptist University. He is also the author of Contentious Journalism and the Internet.



Publication Year: 2012
272 pages, 229mm x 153mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-594-1, Paperback

NUS Press