For your own good : a historical study on social control and the normalisation of state surveillance in Singapore, 1990-2015
Muhammad Hydar Saharudin
Date of Issue2017
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
This essay examines the recent history of state surveillance in Singapore, specifically from the 1990s to 2015. It explores how the surveillance practices of Singapore’s long-ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) government has achieved an undisputed, normative status. It argues that the PAP-government has largely framed its surveillance schemes as advantageous to Singaporean society. It does so by invoking a wide array of threats and anxieties, in which surveillance aims to monitor, avert, discipline, or neutralise. These dangers are discursively rationalised in the PAP-government’s survivalist and pragmatic beliefs. Presented with such narratives, justifications, and options, Singaporeans accept state surveillance in exchange for its purported protective and pastoral benefits. To explore this argument, this essay examines 1) the state-sanctioned secret computer scans of 1994 and 1999; and 2) the PAP-government’s expanding use of CCTV surveillance to address criminal, terrorist, and anti-social behaviours. By historicising these surveillance affairs and trends, this paper hopes to demonstrate how state surveillance in Singapore has been justified insofar that its claims and excesses are uncontested, routinised, and valorised.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University