According to reports, it would appear that the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) has paid National Geographic to create a special Singapore edition magazine in line with its #WhatMakesSG campaign. While it is being called a “collaboration” between MCI and National Geographic, the fact that the magazine is completely funded by MCI would indicate that it is less of a partnership and more of a “paid job”.

Is it not a little bit similar to a wedding photographer capturing the couple of their special day? While you may call it a collaboration, how it actually works is that you produce what the couple wants in return for a fee. Of course National Geographic is a far bigger operation than a wedding photographer. It is also far more global in its reach but if you drill now to basics, it sounds like they are being paid to produce a glossy advertorial campaign for the Singapore government. And why not if Singapore has a huge budget? Mariah Carey is not a wedding singer but she can be if she’s paid enough. Clearly, there’s a price for everything.

This begs the question, why is Singapore shelling out big bucks for National Geographic to produce the 250,000 copies “limited edition” magazine? The report also states that the magazines will be distributed across the island on 8 August which implies that the magazine is not for sale. Ostensibly, the magazine is to commemorate Singapore’s 53rd birthday. But if it were so, why aren’t more Singaporeans invited to take part? Apart from this report, there does not seem to be much information available in terms of the content or participants of this magazine outside the establishment. Is this a genuine commemoration of the country of Singapore or is it an attempt to promote the PAP’s version of Singapore?

The magazine interviews PM Lee on his views for Singapore’s future whilst highlighting the importance of teamwork and collaboration in Singapore’s transformation towards a city of the future.  Just based on this report, it sounds like a vanity project on the part of the government to remind Singaporeans on how awesome they are and showcase PAP’s version of Singapore to National Geographic’s international fan base, however unwitting.

The fact that they have not reached out to advertisers also suggests that they would like to be in total control of the contents.

I can’t imagine that a project like this would be cheap. Why then are we doing it? Can MCI please disclose their reasoning for this and also the amount spent? It is public money after all.

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