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Opinion: Leveraging the Singapore “Media” experience: A blueprint for Ghana’s development

By examining how Lee handled the media to support Singapore's development in the 1960s Ghana can derive strategic insights for its growth

Ghana, like many developing nations, faces the challenge of transforming its economy and society to achieve sustainable growth and development. Singapore’s remarkable transformation under the leadership of Lee Kuan Yew offers valuable lessons.

By examining how Lee handled the media to support Singapore’s development in the 1960s, Ghana can derive strategic insights to foster its growth.

Lee Kuan Yew viewed the media as an essential tool for nation-building, balancing press freedom with the need for stability and unity. He believed a disciplined and responsible media could foster national cohesion, economic development, and social harmony.

To implement a similar strategy, Ghana should recognize the media’s potential to shape public opinion and national identity. A pragmatic approach that balances media freedom with regulatory oversight can help Ghana ensure that the media supports national interests without stifling freedom of expression.

One of the key aspects of Lee’s strategy was media regulation and control. The Singaporean government maintained stringent control over newspapers, television, and radio to ensure they aligned with national interests.

Ghana can adopt a similar approach by enacting laws that regulate media ownership and content to prevent the dissemination of harmful or divisive material. Consolidating smaller, unstable media outlets with larger, more stable ones can also create a more reliable and cohesive media landscape.

Lee Kuan Yew’s administration exercised censorship and licensing powers to suppress content deemed harmful to social order and national security.

While this might seem draconian, a measured and transparent approach to media regulation can help Ghana prevent the spread of misinformation and inflammatory content that could destabilize the nation.

Ensuring that censorship is applied judiciously and in the public interest can help maintain social harmony without eroding trust in the government.

Promoting responsible journalism was another cornerstone of Lee’s media strategy. He engaged with media professionals, emphasizing the importance of factual and constructive reporting.

Ghana can follow suit by supporting training programs that enhance journalistic standards and ethics. Encouraging responsible journalism helps professionalize the industry, ensuring that media outlets contribute positively to national discourse.

Lee emphasized that the media should act as a partner in nation-building, not just a mouthpiece for the government. Constructive criticism was allowed, provided it was fact-based and contributed to the public good.

Ghana can foster a media environment where critical reporting is encouraged, provided it is constructive and helps address national issues. This balanced approach can help build a more informed and engaged citizenry.

The media was instrumental in promoting a sense of national identity and unity in Singapore. The Ghanaian government can use state-controlled media to broadcast messages that encourage social cohesion and national pride.

Campaigns promoting unity, economic resilience, and a collective national vision can help build a cohesive national identity. Crafting a shared narrative through the media can strengthen Ghana’s social fabric and foster a sense of belonging among its citizens.

Recognizing the media’s role in economic development, Lee ensured that it highlighted Singapore’s economic achievements and potential.

Positive coverage of government policies and economic milestones helped attract foreign investment and build international confidence in Singapore’s economic prospects.

Ghana can leverage its media to showcase economic opportunities, successes, and strategic vision to attract investors and boost economic diplomacy.

By drawing on Singapore’s experience, Ghana can develop a strategic approach to managing its media landscape.

Balancing control with the promotion of responsible journalism, fostering national identity, and leveraging media for economic development can help Ghana achieve sustainable growth.

Through thoughtful regulation, professionalization of journalism, and the use of media as a nation-building tool, Ghana can create a media environment that supports its developmental goals, much like Singapore did under Lee Kuan Yew.

John Bart Addo

The writer is the secretary of the Columbus, Ohio chapter of the New Patriotic Party in the United States (NPP-USA)

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