In a sense, Singapore has always been driven by neoliberal ideology. In the 1960s and 1970s, Singapore’s economic competitiveness was based upon its ability to generate low-cost manufacturing assembly, its political stability, and geographical location (Yeung, 2000: 142). However, by the 1980s, Singapore was being outcompeted by other developing Asian countries, and met this ‘competitiveness crunch’ with national strategies promoting high-tech business services (Yeung, 2000: 142).
Rigorous infocomm programmes were enacted as early as 1980, the IDA maintained sustained drives to promote and educate their citizens regarding ICTs. As a result of the National IT Plan (1986-1991), computer software and services industry increased its revenue 10-fold, the ICT workforce pool grew from 850 to 5,500, and the IT business and e-commerce continued to expand through subsequent programmes (iN2015 Steering Committee, 2006: 33). In 2006, Singapore boasted the highest ratio of infocomm-related patents to total patents in the world, and the iN2015 Steering Committee attributed this success to the national ICT programmes (2006: 36).
More than ever, Singapore is a consumer-driven country with a prosperous economy. The infocomm initiatives purposefully drove the economy forward by encouraging business to enter the e-economy and by persuading consumers this was safe and convenient. With the specific aim of encouraging national and international companies to set up e-commerce trading centres in Singapore, the Singaporean government introduced the ‘Approved Cyber Traders’ scheme which entitled qualifying firms to pay less corporate tax (Teo, 2002: 259). A highly sophisticated electronic payment infrastructure encouraged both vendors and consumers to move to online transactions. All e-commerce in the civil service was online by the end of 2001, and a nationwide broadband network called (Singapore ONE) implemented, thus setting the stage for local businesses and consumers to go online (Teo, 2002: 259).
5.2. Beyond the ‘informatisation’ of society
The Internet has undoubtedly fulfilled its promise to become an integral part of Singapore’s economy, but it has an impact beyond the economic. Connectivity is now the norm in the public and private lives of Singaporeans, and there has been sustained emphasis in education on preparing students with ICT skills (Johal, 2004: 2). The substantial rise in online learning and assessment and almost all homes with school age children have a computer see efforts bearing effects (IDA, 2011: 7). The iN2015 Steering Committee (2006: 8, 71), via their EdVantage programme, propose to 'make the dream of ‘classrooms without walls’ a reality' and outline plans to instigate ‘lifelong learning’. This draws parallels to what Deleuze wrote about ‘control societies’, where discipline is no longer confined to the institutions from which it arose but merges and becomes part of the larger collective (1992: 5). What does this mean for the...