$336m PR & Communications vs $130m ComCare?


Should we spend more on financial assistance. relative to ad spending? 

I refer to the article “Wanted: Master media agency to handle bulk of govt ad spending” (Straits Times, Apr 14).

It states that “According to this year’s Budget, the Government spent $275 million on public relations and communications in 2016, $296 million last year and has allocated $339 million for the current financial year.

The Government’s communication strategy has been evolving in recent years, from eye-catching infographics to viral videos, and most recently, getting micro-influencers – social media starlets with fewer than 1,000 followers – to push awareness about the Budget and climate change.

Separately, the Housing Board issued a $2.9 million tender to marketing communications agency J. Walter Thompson, which beat six agencies for a two-year research and communications campaign. The goal, tender documents said, is to “enhance confidence in HDB’s capabilities to provide affordable and quality public housing, and address perception issues about HDB’s policies and programmes””.

Most of the “communications” that I have seen in various media, like television, billboards, etc, seem to be focused on how people are being or can be helped.

I suggest that we need to review the balance between the amount that we spend on PR and communications versus say the amount of financial assistance that the needy gets.

Is spending $339 million versus just $130 million for ComCare, arguably, rather off-balance?

Are there any countries that spend 2.5 times more on “PR and communications” than social welfare?

Leong Sze Hian


About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.