Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Communications Honours


School of Communications and Multimedia


Faculty of Communications, Health and Science

First Supervisor

Dr Beate Josephi


November 1990, with the stepping down of Singapore's inaugural Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, saw the changing of the guard in Singapore, together with the promise of a more consultative style of government and greater citizen participation. However, the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) had been quick to point out that the new openness did not mean that they would tolerate undue criticisms of the government. Participants in political discussions are thus constrained by the Out-of-bounds markers (OB markers) which dictate the rules of political engagement and the topics which are deemed by the PAP as too sensitive for public debate. The OB markers are not a defined set of rules, and evolve with the prevailing socio-political climate. The OB markers have been in existence long before it was brought into the limelight in 1994, when a Singaporean author was chastised by the PAP for two critical political commentaries published in the press. The Singaporean government has justified the need for OB markers in maintaining national security and religious and racial harmony. Although Singaporean academics have mentioned the OB markers in their work, there has been no extensive study performed on the topic. This thesis aims to explore the conditions which have informed the need for OB markers and its implementation in the local press, using The Straits Times as a case study. The thesis will also discern if there has been a shift in these markers using the public discussion of the Marxist Conspiracy, the Catherine Lim incident and the Ong Presidency as test cases.