Singapore Media Watch

Friday, September 29, 2006

Singapore bans FEER - from Reuters

http://sg.news.yahoo.com/060928/3/43pzn.html

September 28 2006
By Sara Webb

SINGAPORE, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Singapore's government said on Thursday that it had banned the sale and distribution of the Far Eastern Economic Review, a monthly magazine owned by Dow Jones & Co. , as it failed to comply with its press regulations.

On Aug. 3 the government ordered five foreign publications -- the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), Time, Newsweek, Financial Times and the International Herald Tribune -- to post bonds of S$200,000 ($126,000) and appoint representatives in Singapore.

Later in August, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, both filed defamation suits against FEER's publisher and editor over an article that it published in July about opposition politician Chee Soon Juan, according to court documents.

The Ministry of Information, Communications, and the Arts said in a statement on Thursday that it had revoked its approval for FEER's sale and distribution in Singapore because the magazine had failed to comply with the government's conditions.

"It is a privilege and not a right for foreign newspapers to circulate in Singapore," the ministry said, adding that it was now an offence for any person to sell or distribute, import, or subscribe to the Far Eastern Economic Review.

The Hong Kong-based Far Eastern Economic Review said it was unaware of Singapore's decision.

Singapore's leaders have won hefty damages in the past from media groups including the Economist, the International Herald Tribune, Bloomberg and FinanceAsia.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, which ranks Singapore 140th out of 167 countries for press freedom, slammed the government's decision in August to issue restrictions for the five foreign publications.

"The authorities are looking for effective ways, including fear of prosecution and heavy fines, to intimidate these publications into censoring themselves," the media watchdog said at the time, as the S$200,000 bonds would serve as security in any future government lawsuit for alleged defamation.

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