The Singapore Government admitted to an “administrative oversight” yesterday, according to The Straits Times, on not subjecting the Far Eastern Economic Review (Feer) to certain conditions when the publication went from a weekly to a monthly last year.
It seems that Feer, together with The Wall Street Journal Asia, International Herald Tribune, Financial Times, Newsweek and Time, are categorised as offshore newspapers and must meet two conditions to keep their permits to circulate here:
1. A legal representative here has to be appointed on behalf of the publisher
2. The paper has to submit a security deposit of $200,000.
The article reads that Feer has to comply by 11 September this year, while the other publications – save for the WSJA which the piece implies to be already compliant – have until the expiration of their current permits to follow the rules.
I’m a member of the local media scene and it would not come as a surprise to anyone that I would think these rules are too restrictive.
I understand the importance of protecting our political landscape from unfair criticism and biased reporting. But I feel foreign and local publications should be allowed to play by the same rules. If a publication makes a dishonest comment, it should rightly be accountable to our libel laws – laws which protect every party involved.
Update: Channel NewsAsia has a clearer report on the news.
Update2: Reporters without Borders slams Singapore.
What do you think?