Ouch! Singapore reacts to press ranking

Associated Press

The Government on Wednesday slammed a media watchdog for ranking Singapore in the same league as North Korea and Myanmar in press freedom, saying outsiders shouldn’t equate freedom with criticising the government.

Singapore placed 147th in the annual index put out by Reporters Without Borders – by far the lowest ranking of any developed country in the annual ranking – and just one notch above Iraq and 18 above Myanmar.

Other countries in the bottom two dozen included Libya at 154, Zimbabwe at 157 and China at 162. North Korea was ranked worst at 167; Cuba was 166.

Information Minister Lee Boon Yang said the index imposes a standard that fails to take into account ‘special circumstances’ in Singapore, where he said journalists contribute to the nation’s development and are not necessarily adversarial.

Dr Lee said the Reporters Without Borders index ‘is based largely on a different media model which favours the advocacy and adversarial role of the press’.

‘We have a different media model in Singapore,’ he said in a written comment.

‘This model has evolved out of our special circumstances and has enabled our media to contribute to nation building,’ he said, adding the government simply ‘did not agree’ with the organisation’s rankings, which were released late last month.

Dr Lee said Singapore’s media ‘has to be sensitive to our national interests’.

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