Intolerant government, self-censorship
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s government reacts quickly to criticism from journalists and does not hesitate to sue them, apply pressure to make them unemployable, or even force them to leave the country. The Media Development Authority has the power to censor all forms of journalistic content. Defamation suits are common in the city-state and may sometimes be accompanied by a charge of sedition, which is punishable by up to 21 years in prison. As a result of judicial and financial pressure from the authorities, self-censorship is widespread, including within the alternative independent media. The red lines imposed by the authorities, known by journalists as “OB markers” (for out-of-bounds markers), apply to an ever-wider range of issues and public figures. As in many southeast Asian countries, governmental plans to legislate against “fake news” are seen as a threat to the freedom to inform. A proposed law that would allow the police to search homes and electronic devices without a warrant poses a grave threat to the confidentiality of journalists’ sources.
151 in 2017
51.10 in 2017