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The Media Enthralled: Singapore Revisited

Francis T. Seow
ISBN: 978-1-55587-779-8
1998/254 pages/LC: 96-41596
"An admirable piece of work that deserves to be widely circulated and read.”—James Chin, Commonwealth and Comparative Politics

"A searing critique of the Singapore government’s treatment of that country’s media, particularly the press.”—Commonwealth Lawyers Association 2000


Once a proud and independent institution, the Singapore press was brought to its knees by threats, arbitrary arrests and detentions, general harassment, and litigation during Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's administration. Singapore's former solicitor general, Francis T. Seow, tells this story, documenting the demise of the Eastern Sun, the Nanyang Siang Pau, and the Singapore Herald (among other newspapers), as well as the severe curbs that have been placed on foreign journalists reporting on Singapore.

By the early 1980s, Singapore's entire press establishment had been restructured; with founding owners forced  to divest their holdings of newspaper companies. Since then, as Seow substantiates, the press has become the mouthpiece of the state, using invidious self-censorship to distort the news.


The late Francis T. Seow held several key posts in Singapore's government, including service as solicitor general in 1967-1971. Arrested in 1988 on allegations that he illegally received funds in support of opposition politics, he was detained (though never formally charged) for 72 days, and Amnesty International named him a prisoner of conscience. In November 1988, he was invited by Human Rights Watch to visit the United States, where he remained in exile.


  • Foreword—Henry Steiner.
  • The Bailiwick of Singapore.
  • A Handsel for the Media.
  • The Techniques of Repression: A Lesson Well Learned.
  • Subjugation of the Print Media: Two Important Cases.
  • The Government's Case Against the Singapore Herald.
  • The Divestiture of Control.
  • The Foreign Media.
  • Inside the Web.