The latest press freedom ranking for Singapore’s mainstream media, Singapore Press Holding and Mediacorp, is 153th according to Reporters Without Borders 2015. Worse than Philippines and Malaysia, Singapore’s press freedom ranking has declined 3 places since 2014 due to the influences of the ruling party PAP in this election year.
Just last week, the Singapore Press Holding quoted an anonymous poison pen letter accusing Workers’ Party candidate Professor Daniel Goh for having an affair with his student. In another case a few months ago, Singapore reporters witnessed a slapping incident and did not offer help except to continue taking photos and videos.
Singapore’s media are also largely biased with sensationalized headlines promoting the ruling party government’s agendas. This has resulted in falling readership and Singaporeans are turning to online sites operated by independent writers for news.
However, independent writers online are faced with censorship laws recently legislated by the government to control the internet. A S$50,000 bond has to be put up for all websites and that it will be confiscated if the sites do not censor their articles within 24 hours upon demand of the Media Development Authority. Several current affairs news sites have since been shut down including prosecutions and defamation law suits.
Once the most popular news site among Singaporeans, The Real Singapore’s editors Ai Takagi and Yang Kai Heng now faces jail term up to 3 years for sedition charges. Another popular writer, Roy Ngerng, who writes on the national retirement system CPF, was sued by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for defamation. Even for States Times Review, the site name was changed due to legal threats from the government-controlled mainstream media The Straits Times.
The owner of Singapore Press Holdings and Mediacorp is Temasek Holdings, whose CEO is the wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
You may view Reporters Without Borders Index here.