After years of receiving criticisms over the government budget, the Singapore Ministry of Finance spent an estimated S$50,000 on 50 Instagram “influencers” to praise the coming 2018 Budget. State media Straits Times said that the “social media influencers” have tens of thousands of followers and the spending will help the government “to reach out” to younger Singaporeans.
It is understood for this year’s Budget, tax increases would be announced including a possible GST hike PM Lee Hsien Loong promised for Singaporeans.
Younger Singaporeans will be influenced to visit the government websites to read good news about the Budget. According to the state media interview with “influencer” Cheng Kai Ting who have 21,800 followers, controversial President Halimah Yacob and the ruling party was praised for “planning Singapore’s future”:
“Before we penned down our signatures to seal our union for #KenTingWeds, there was a lot of planning done to make sure we worked within our budget and planned our finances well for our future together. Similarly, the Singapore government has to plan the #SGBudget ahead to help us Singaporeans and support our businesses in the next Financial Year, and our President will pen down her signature as assent for the enactment of the Supply Bill.”
The Ministry of Finance acknowledged the propaganda spending but refused to reveal how much money is spent. Given the significance of the Budget to all Singaporeans, MOF taps a mix of communications channels and platforms” to gather feedback and raise awarenesshe MOF spokesperson said:
“Given the significance of the Budget to all Singaporeans, MOF taps a mix of communications channels and platforms” to gather feedback and raise awareness. Many Singaporeans, especially younger ones, obtain information online. This is an effective way to engage with youth participants,” she said, but did not elaborate on how the ministry tracks the campaign’s outcome.”
It is unknown whether the MOF have done the same for other social media websites like Facebook or Google.
The Singapore government and it’s 154th-ranking state media is a major generator of fake news in Singapore. Government reports, statistics and the current affairs news often portray the government positively and leave out balanced arguments.