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Credibility of a Creative Image: The Singaporean Approach

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Singapore has embarked on an ambitious program to make the city-state into a significant player in the global creative economy. The country is being re-branded as a creative city. The government agrees that in the creative economy, the environment must be conducive to experimentation and innovation. As a result, more social and political spaces have been opened up to spur Singapore’s fledging creative economy and also to signal that the nation has become more transparent and tolerant. The authorities, however, still limit the freedom of public expression on political, ethnic and religious issues. The current state of ethnic-religious harmony and political status quo is to be preserved. Singapore remains a soft-authoritarian state. Can such a country then be branded as a place conducive to creativity and innovation? This paper shows how the Singaporean government: 1) introduces and implements a set of comprehensive policies to develop the creative economy; 2) brands and re-images the city-state as an exciting creative nation; 3) communicates the new creative vision and eventually engineers local acceptance of the creative economy; and 4) promotes the image of an open society and yet maintain tight social and political control. The re-making and re-imaging of Singapore are two sides of the same coin.

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Can-Seng Ooi

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