Photo of K Shanmugam from TodayOnline

In an interview with state media TodayOnline, Law Minister K Shanmugam said that new censorship laws banning foreign news media is good for society.

“(Censorship) could well have the opposite effect. Local companies have stepped in to support Pink Dot, an annual rally held in support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, after the Government said no to foreign sponsors in June last year. In a way, isn’t that good for Singapore’s society? We build our own civil society.”

The Law Minister then pulled out deceased former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s name and said that he used to ban two local newspapers, Nanyang Siang Pau and Singapore Herald, for being “black operations funded by foreigners”. The two newspapers were closed because they criticised the ruling party PAP government in the 1970s and 1980s.

Minister K Shanmugam then claimed without basis and providing specific examples where foreign news had affected elections in United States, Italy and Europe:

“Simply as a matter of common sense, if a country thinks that the outcome of another country can be influenced to its interest, why would it not do so? You look around the world today. There are serious allegations of foreign interference in many countries … So you cannot assume that these things won’t happen (in Singapore). It is happening around the world and you must assume that it can happen here… Similar attempts here by foreign entities cannot be ruled out… What has happened in the past can happen (again). And as new causes emerge, it can also happen.”

The Law Minister then declare that Singaporeans must deal with local politics and issues by themselves in Singapore, under the government’s existing censorship law and anti-criticism environment:

“Singaporeans must deal with local politics and controversial issues themselves. If it is for us to decide on our own fate then we must make sure others don’t influence us in this way, particularly if it is insidious, hidden, if it is through money … You ask people, should we make sure that foreigners don’t interfere with out politics, I think the overwhelming majority will agree.”