FEER and Singapore

The Wall Street Journal
27 Mar 07

Our sister publication, the Far Eastern Economic Review, has been defending itself against a lawsuit in Singapore after it published an article last year on opposition leader Chee Soon Juan. So we hope you’ll forgive us if we take some pride that the Review has now been honored by its peers for its journalism.

Review Editor Hugo Restall received first place in the magazine category of the annual Human Rights Press Awards, organized by the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents Club and Amnesty International. Among the attributes the judges look for is “courage on the part of the journalists or publisher.” The monthly Review is published by Review Publishing Company Ltd., a subsidiary of Dow Jones & Co., which also publishes this newspaper.

In Singapore, reporting on the political opposition carries risks, as virtually every Western publication that circulates in the city state has been the subject of a lawsuit or been threatened with one. The Review and Mr. Restall are being sued by Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding Prime Minister who is now Minister Mentor, and his son, current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who claim the article on Mr. Chee defamed them. The Review is also banned in Singapore, where it is a criminal offense to subscribe to the magazine or to import or reproduce it for distribution. The Review is defending itself against the defamation claims.

The Review’s award is a rebuke to Singapore’s attempt to silence anyone who reports on the political opposition and is especially welcome support for a vigorous and free press in Asia.

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