By LM — Advertising is one of the primary methods that governments use to influence Public Opinion. They often provide exclusive access to government officials, events, and press conferences to journalists and news outlets that they perceive as friendly. This can result in biased media coverage that portrays the government in a positive light while ignoring or downplaying any criticism or negative news. Basically you can also call it propaganda.
When utilized effectively, government advertisements can prove beneficiary for the public and government. For example, when pushing out important information. However, if unchecked, it can be a waste of taxpayer money and a way for governments to manipulate the media narrative. For example, spending on advertisements that promote government officials or to simply save face.
Furthermore, it can also lead to a lack of transparency and accountability. It becomes difficult for citizens to hold their government accountable for their spending and decision-making.
Let me tell you something fascinating about how the PAP controls media narratives in Singapore!
Advertising spending is one of their most potent tools. It used to be mainly through mainstream media, but in recent years they’ve extended their reach to Social Media and influencers. The official engagement between influencers and the government is not made public. So, it’s like you are getting served propaganda camouflaged as analysis. What is worse is YOU, the public, are paying to get deceived.
Recently, a parliamentary question from the opposition compelled the Singapore government to reveal that they spend more than S$200m annually on advertising. That’s shocking for a country witnessing record inflation and unemployment! The government refused to answer a sub-question on electronic-media breakdown, such as spending on TikTok, showing the limits of Parliament.
Did you know that Australia, a country of 25 Million people, spends $450 Million on annual advertising? Whereas Singapore, a country of 5.64 Million spends $200 Million? This is some 2.5 times as much as Australia on a per capita basis!
Of course, not all of the Spending’s are a Waste of Public Money
Some of this expenditure is used on vital communication that is in the public interest, like pandemic-related messaging. But much else, like Chong’s Ah Lian helping the government justify its Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), is a total disgrace!
It’s amazing to see the extent of the PAP’s influence and how they operate to keep media outfits onside. But as awareness grows, the public needs to stay vigilant and informed. After all, why should taxpayers pay for any of such propaganda at all?