Wednesday, May 04, 2005

RSF Annual Report 2005

... Singapore's low ranking was due to the complete absence of independent newspapers, radio stations and TV stations, the application of prison sentences for press offences, media self-censorship and the opposition's lack of access to the state media...

For several decades, the government has had a very sophisticated strategy for silencing Singaporean and foreign journalists who wrote stories that are embarrassing for the political elite. The threat of heavy fines or distribution bans have sufficed to bring press groups to heel. The British news weekly The Economist was punished in this fashion in 2004...
(emphasis mine)
[Source: RSF Annual Report 2005, 2/5/2005, via Singabloodypore]

I had read about this earlier, and was going to comment upon it, but Singabloodypore beat me to the punch. In any case...

The problems cited in the first paragraph and the first section of the second paragraph largely refer to the effect of provisions in the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act. This is the main means through which legitimate publications may be legally censured. This is achieved through two methods, first: Every periodical must be licensed; this license lasts for only 12 months, and may be revoked. Second, every periodical may be subject to a distribution limit. Apart from this, to publish, sell or distribute any periodical is an offence punishable with a fine of up to SGD 50,000 and 2 years imprisonment.

Allegedly, this is the cause of all the other problems; because any publishing business may effectively be rendered illegal, or become severely constricted by circulation limits which will have a negative impact upon advertising and hence render the business unfeasible.

Whether or not this is true, the bolded allegation is erroneous. Mr. Brown links to what really happened. ;) (short version - they were sued for defamation and settled.)