Singapore Media Watch

Friday, September 29, 2006

Statement of the Far Eastern Economic Review - September 28, 2006

The Singaporean government today announced that it has banned the Far Eastern Economic Review from the country. It has explicitly warned that not only is the Review Publishing Company forbidden from importing or distributing the Hong Kong-based monthly, but Singaporeans will also commit a criminal offense if they import or reproduce the magazine for distribution.

In its September issue, the Review urged the Singaporean government to reconsider its decision to impose punitive regulations on the Review. These retroactive regulations furthered the interests of individual members of the government and harmed the magazine financially, but were never justified by the government under the applicable law.

Today’s statement shows that the government has refused to reconsider its repressive approach toward the media. We regret that this action infringes on the fundamental rights of our Singaporean subscribers and further restricts the already narrow scope of free expression in Singapore. The Review will publish a more complete response to the government’s actions in the next issue of the magazine to appear on October 6.

Singapore’s Shame

It is not surprising to learn that the Singapore government has enforced new rules on your respected publication and others for the “privilege” of circulating in the city-state.

The reasons behind these new requirements, including paying a security deposit and the appointment of a legal representative in Singapore, are obvious. It is done to silence you and all the other media, preventing reporting on any matters that the Singaporean leaders regard as undesirable.

The Singapore leadership’s libel suits against the leading publications of the world are legendary and make the idea of free, responsible reporting a joke.

Hasn’t the time arrived for the media world to come together and fight back? The publications named, most of which have had to pay fines or live with restricted circulation, are owned by the most respected media houses in the world. If all of them were not available on newsstands in Singapore, I have no doubt who would lose out most.

Gary Kitching
Hong Kong


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