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Singapore September 7, 2006
Sellapan Rama Nathan
Office of the President
Republic of Singapore
Fax: (011.65.6) 738-4673 or 737-9896
Members of our organization, journalists with world-wide experience, have been very disturbed to learn recently of changes in press regulations that appear to discriminate against five prestigious foreign newspapers and magazines that operate in Singapore .
According to information provided by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) in Bangkok , the following publications have been told by your government that they must post bonds of S$200,000 each and appoint legal representatives in Singapore for permission to continue their operations in the country. The five are: the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), International Herald Tribune, Financial Times, Time magazine, and Newsweek.
Previously, these foreign papers had been exempted from Section 23 (3) of the Newspapers and Printing Presses Act, which stipulates such conditions for off-shore newspapers in Singapore . However, as SEAPA informs us, your government reviewed the application of the law and decided to apply the same conditions to these five publications which already apply to such publications as The Wall Street Journal Asia .
These new restrictions seemingly are being planned on the eve of the forthcoming annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in Singapore this September.
It appears to us that these stern measures against the international press may be intended as a form of pre-censorship in advance of the IMF-World Bank meetings. Your Government has already issued warnings that no protests will be tolerated during these international financial gatherings. We can not help but relate this to recent articles profiling the leader of the political opposition in Singapore and to your government’s long-standing policies that are intolerant of freedom of speech, and freedom of the press in Singapore .
As you must be well aware, in this age of world-wide radio, television and Internet communications, local barriers to freedom of expression have very limited effect. We believe it would be in the long-term interest of Singapore to cancel the proposed restrictions on the five offshore publications mentioned in this letter.
Norman A. Schorr
Freedom of the Press Committee
Lee Hsien Loong
Office of the Prime Minister
Republic of Singapore
Fax: (011.65.6) 835-6621
Chan Heng Chee
Ambassador of Singapore to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the Republic of Singapore
3501 International Place, NW
Washington , DC 20008
Fax (202) 537-0876
Ambassador Vanu Gopala Menon
Permannt Mission of the Republic of Singapore
to the United Nations
231 East 51st Street
New York , NY 10022
Fax: (212) 826-2964
Patricia L. Herbold
U.S. Ambassador to Singapore
Embassy of the United States of America
27 Napier Road 258508
Fax: (011.65.6) 476-9340