Friday, August 04, 2006

Publishing utopia

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?


germyong said...

These are my personal thoughts, of why we are NOT so open to 'free style' writing.

(1) Not all reporters see the social responsibilities when they pen their thoughts. Some even have hidden propaganda in their articles (even for now when there are still restrictions). For example, when I read 'The Economist', I think the writers are not really very cultural sensitive to Asia (or Singapore) when they will structure of sentence and thoughts in a way that it is rather sarcastic. Anyway, just look at Princess Diana, she died because of irresponsible reporters who claimed to want to bring the truth to the world?

(2) Most Singaporeans are rather simple-minded (I do not mean naive). for example, we are a compassionate lot for disasters like Tsunami. And usually we are the quiet givers. Usually, we take the face value of whatever we read, and are notreally 'educated' to ponder about the report.

(3) Did you watch the 2 discussion sessions with Lee Hsien Loong and Lee Kuan Yew? I think the group with Lee Hsian Loong is still pretty ok. The group of 30s I think. But look at those in the group of 20s with Lee Kuan Yew. Commenting not knowing the facts well, asking questions which they have already derived answers in their mind, behaving like they are in a university debate rather than as professionals,etc. And I understand the few that behave so badly are reporters. New generation of reporters, this quality? I rather not read. Speechless and disgusted. Knowledge of the world is important, but shouldnt character building be more important than anything else?

Reporters might first need to see that they set us thinking, not set our mindset? And readers might need to be more matured to read between the lines and able to filter the right things? For the reader part, I just thought we are not ready.

I was watching American Top Model. That model judge (seriously cant remember her name) always give the models advices of the ugly side of being a model (e.g. no time for relationships or babies), reality checks of their attitude and character as a model and as a human being. AT THE END OF THE DAY, after so much 'education' she will still always encourage them to pursue their passion.

I am just wondering, with so much frustration of Singapore's policy or whatever, how many percent of Singapore writers can maintain professional in giving us the truth, and on the other hand nurture the passion of our next generation to love our country, even though Singapore is not perfect.

The Editor said...

There is no press freedom in Singapore. Period.