8. The Analysis Of Lee Kuan Yew’s Authoritarian Political Methods And Strategies For Holding On To Power At All Costs

1605 words - 7 pages

Power over the press
The degree of consent for the PAP can be described by the people’s acquiescence based on their faith in the PAP’s continual deliverance of rising standards of living. Additionally, the state’s complex ideological domination constructed by a series of strategies and policies maintained a normative consensus. Apart from the legitimised manipulation of elections and parliamentary composition, Lee drew power through the people’s consent, which he constructed around the notion of nation-building, evoking a sense of collective purpose for Singaporeans to work towards common goals and oppose common threats. As mentioned earlier, Lee utilised the mainstream media as a tool for ...view middle of the document...

Consequentially, Lee further responded by introducing new press laws which superseded the previous laws of open aggression against independent press. The new press laws enforced in 1974, Newspaper and Printing Presses Act (NPPA) introduced a new ban on foreign ownership and the mandatory public listing of newspaper companies, whose executives, politically neutral banks and other institutional bodies, were nominated by the government. This ensured that the press could no longer be independent and the government could manipulate what was broadcasted with no qualms. Management shares were introduced to be worth two hundred times the voting rights as ordinary shares, which further secured the government’s power over the board and senior journalist positions. The introduction of the NPPA meant that the Lee government had effective power over the press without asserting ownership or attacking journalists. Moreover, they created a balance between the political interests of the PAP, the professional interests of journalists, the public’s interest for news and analyses, and the meeting of profit margins for publishers. This meant that any dissent from the public, whose main complaints were for the lack of credibility, was not high enough to boycott mainstream media and revolt against the PAP. However, evidenced by the effectiveness of Lee’s propaganda, it is clear that the majority of the public still valued the press as a credible source. The adjustment of initial structure of the press through the installation of the NPPA barriers instead of the downright seizure of power was backed by Lee’s recognition of commerce as the ultimate driving force in the late twentieth century, as opposed to ideology, especially in his authoritarian-capitalist state.

Power over fundamental ideologies through re-education
This by all means did not take away from the hegemony Lee had on the ideologies of Singaporeans. Lee firmly believed that values shared by Singapore as a whole was necessary to create unity for nation-building. As an expansion on the idea of the ‘family’ and ‘state’ being at the uttermost centre of people’s lives, in the 1980s Lee embarked on a campaign to promote his version of Confucian values and ethics (altered to include the State at the centre) via the press, over which he had assumed power, and the educational curriculum.(Tu, 1996). This onset of Lee’s Confucianism sparked a new sociocultural discourse of ‘Asian Values’, officially beginning through the Speak Mandarin Campaign, established in 1979. The three pillars of Lee’s Confucianism are often identified by ‘the predominance of a strong group solidarity and paternalistic employer-employee relationship, mutual assistance and community life, and the extended family system’ (Seah, 1977, pp. xii, 1-40). Through the intermediary of the press, the PAP voiced their elevation of ‘Asian values’ stating that, ‘Without a national identity firmly rooted in history and tradition, with the need to sever...

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