FEER ban sign of PAP desperation

September 29, 2006
Singapore Democrats

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The ban on the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) is yet more evidence of the PAP’s desperation to try to stem the mounting international criticism of its despotic ways.

It also exposes the extent of the regime’s insecurity . A confident government need not resort to banning newspapers and magazines that are critical of it.

The Government says that foreign publications publish in Singapore as a matter of privilege, not right. It forgets that the free flow of information to Singaporeans is a matter of right, not privilege.

The ban is yet another naked attempt by the PAP to censor critical views. It may benefit the party and those who control it, but it will continue to harm the interests of Singapore.

Singapore has never enjoyed freedom of expression. This latest act exposes the lie of the new Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong (Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s elder son), that he wants to build an “open and inclusive society.”

Coupled with the recent debacle over the crackdown on civil society organisations during the WB-IMF Meeting, investors must ask the hard question of whether the PAP’s actions are consistent with a free-market economy that depends of free information flow.

If information can be blocked and manipulated by the Government, how can we develop a knowledge-driven economy, much less a knowledge-based society? How can Singaporeans hold the Government accountable and know that what our leaders say is the truth?

Singaporeans and the international community must view this latest clamp down on the media with alarm and urgency. The condemnation of such blatant repression must be unequivocal and universal. In addition, efforts to achieve democracy, transparency and a free flow of information in Singapore must be stepped up.

Chee Soon Juan

Secretary-General

Singapore Democratic Party


Singapore Bans Far Eastern Economic Review

Stephen Wright
Dow Jones Newswires
28 Sep 06

Singapore has banned Far Eastern Economic Review, a magazine that published an article critical of the city-state’s leaders, after it didn’t appoint a legal representative and pay a S$200,000 bond.

“It is a privilege and not a right for foreign newspapers to circulate in Singapore,” the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts said in a statement Thursday.

“If any foreign newspaper fails to comply with the law, including the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act, they cannot expect to enjoy this privilege,” it said.

FEER, which is owned by Dow Jones & Co Inc. (DJ), is the first publication to have its circulation revoked in Singapore for at least 10 years, said ministry spokeswoman Krishnasamy Bhavani.

The magazine’s editor, Hugo Restall, declined to comment.

On its Web site, FEER says it will be making a statement in its Oct. 6 issue.

FEER is being sued by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father, Lee Kuan Yew, over an article about local opposition politician Chee Soon Juan in the magazine’s July issue.

Ruling party leaders have successfully sued several opposition politicians and publications for defamation over the years. They say 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.

With FEER banned, it is now an offense to sell, distribute, or import the magazine or possess it for sale or distribution in Singapore. Reproduction for sale or distribution and subscribing to the magazine are also offenses.

The Newspapers and Printing Presses Act doesn’t cover the online version of FEER.

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 classified as an “offshore newspaper” and must appoint a legal representative in Singapore and pay a S$200,000 bond by Sept. 11.

In addition to this and other newswires, Dow Jones publishes The Wall Street Journal and its international and online editions, Barron’s, MarketWatch, Dow Jones Indexes and the Ottaway group of community newspapers. Dow Jones is co-owner with Reuters Group PLC (RTRSY) of Factiva and with Hearst Corp. of SmartMoney.