FEER misses deadline for Singapore representative, bond

Stephen Wright
Dow Jones Newswires
25 Sep 06

The Far Eastern Economic Review, which is being sued by Singapore’s leaders, hasn’t complied with a requirement to appoint a legal representative in the city-state and pay a S$200,000 bond, a government spokeswoman said Monday.

“FEER has yet to comply with the conditions,” said Krishnasamy Bhavani, communications director of the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts.

The deadline was Sept. 11. The magazine can be stopped from circulating in Singapore if the conditions aren’t met.

The Dow Jones & Co Inc. (DJ) owned publication and its editor Hugo Restall are being sued for libel by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father Lee Kuan Yew over an article about local opposition politician Chee Soon Juan in the July/August issue of FEER.

Restall declined to comment.

A note from the editor in the September issue of the monthly journal said the publication hopes Singapore will reconsider the bond and legal representative requirements.

“Whatever they decide, we will continue to publish well-reasoned analysis of the country free of fear or favor. More on this in our next issue,” the note said.

In August, Singapore imposed tighter restrictions on foreign publications, including FEER, Newsweek, Time, the Financial Times and the International Herald Tribune.

The Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts said FEER would be reclassified as an “offshore newspaper” and must comply with legal provisions governing such publications.

Under Singapore’s Newspaper and Printing Presses Act, an offshore newspaper must obtain a permit to circulate in Singapore. It also must appoint a person within Singapore to accept any notice or legal process on behalf of its publisher, and submit a S$200,000 security deposit with the government.

For the other foreign publications, the exemption from the requirements was lifted effective expiry of their current permits.

Ruling party leaders have successfully sued several opposition politicians and publications for defamation over the years. They said they sue to protect their reputations.

But domestic and international critics – including the U.S. State Department and London-based rights group Amnesty International – have accused Singapore’s rulers of using defamation lawsuits to stifle opponents.

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