Thursday, September 28, 2006

FEER Banned in Singapore (again!)

Another publication has been banned in Singapore. This time it is the Dow Jones publication, FAR EASTERN ECONOMIC REVIEW. I remember my literature school teacher in Primary (Elementary) School who lavished praise on its reporting. Those days, banning of any publications is largely unheard of. According to the Asia1 report,

Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) can no longer be sold or distributed in Singapore from today, as the government has revoked the permit given to the Hong Kong-based monthly magazine.

This follows the failure by the publisher of FEER to comply with the conditions imposed under the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act (NPPA), said the Ministry for Information, Communications and the Arts (Mica).

The government announced on Aug 3 that FEER was deemed an "offshore newspaper" and it must comply with the requirements before it could be circulated in Singapore.

This means it must appoint a representative here on behalf of the publisher and submit a security deposit of $200,000. FEER was given up to Sept 11 to meet the requirements.

That is for failing to appoint a legal representative as well as to put up a huge deposit in order to get a license for circulation in the country. What this means is that in the event the FEER puts up any 'irresponsible' articles, they can be sued for libel in the country, which can inflict large financial damages. Currently, Singapore is restricted to banning them, and not able to sue them for more money outside Singapore courts.

Should a press be completely free? Is it qualified for self-censorship? Is Singapore fair in their approach to muzzle the press this way?

1) Asia1
2) Bloomberg
3) Channelnewsasia

For me, I think it is only fair to play by the rules according to the rules of the country. For anyone who wants to criticise the Singapore government, remember that arsons are people who set fire deliberately and expect others to put out the fire. Though I may not fully agree with the methods used by the government, I understand where they are coming from.


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