Conclusion: Governing contradictions consistently
Always ‘new’: cultural contradictions with political consistencies On 9 March 2004, the Singapore Tourism Board launched the first phase of Singapore’s latest tourism branding ‘Uniquely Singapore’ to market Singapore as a premier tourism destination, with the primary aim of achieving a target of 7.6 million visitor arrivals for 2004 and gradually increasing thereafter to reach 10 million visitors (STB 2004). Although this new branding, comprising a range of advertisements for different global markets, was developed in the wake of the city-state’s ‘recovery’ from its economically crippling encounter with the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic during the first half of 2003, it also coincided with the circulation of a broad ‘new’ rhetoric that speaks of a ‘more open’ and creative Singapore (Leo and Lee 2004: 205). This ‘new’ vision of Singapore followed a report unveiled in mid-2003 by the government-commissioned Remaking Singapore Committee (2003), entitled Changing Mindsets, Deepening Relationships. Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong had appointed this new committee
in February 2002 to look at the ‘remaking’ of Singapore, with a “focus on the political, social and cultural aspects of [Singapore’s] survival as a nation”, amidst the nation’s worst economic downturn since gaining independence in 1965 (Prime Minister’s Office 2002). The result was a 100-page report that recommended, among other things, more avenues for Singaporeans to express themselves socially, culturally and artistically, and more spaces to “participate meaningfully in national and community life” (Remaking Singapore Committee 2003: 20-21).