Singapore drops to 154th spot in World Press Freedom Index

Reporters Without Borders (RWB) has ranked Singapore at 154th spot in its latest World Press Freedom Index. The Republic dropped one notch from the 153rd place it held last year, and 14 spots from the 140th place it occupied a decade ago, in 2006.

RWB explained the ranking for Singapore as such:

“The Media Development Authority Act, the Films Act and the Broadcasting Act empower the Media Development Authority (MDA) to censor journalistic content, including online content. In April 2015, this government agency ordered the closure of The Real Singapore (TRS) news website because of content regarded as overly critical. Two of its alleged contributors were accused of “sedition,” which is punishable by 21 years in prison. Defamation suits are common in the city-state and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has personally brought prosecutions against bloggers.”

“It is unfortunately clear that many of the world’s leaders are developing a form of paranoia about legitimate journalism,” RWB secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “The climate of fear results in a growing aversion to debate and pluralism, a clampdown on the media by ever more authoritarian and oppressive governments, and reporting in the privately-owned media that is increasingly shaped by personal interests.

“Journalism worthy of the name must be defended against the increase in propaganda and media content that is made to order or sponsored by vested interests. Guaranteeing the public’s right to independent and reliable news and information is essential if humankind’s problems, both local and global, are to be solved.”

Published annually by RWB since 2002, the World Press Freedom Index is an important advocacy tool based on the principle of emulation between states.