Singapore | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


The constitution provides for freedom of speech and expression but also permits restrictions on these rights. Although not used against the press in recent years, the Internal Security Act allows the government to restrict publications that incite violence, arouse racial or religious tension, or threaten national interests, national security, or public order. Legal constraints on the press also include harsh defamation laws, which several members of the government have successfully used to sue their critics. In July, a judge ruled that the courts could force journalists to reveal their sources in civil cases. The Newspaper and Printing Presses Act allows authorities to restrict the circulation of any foreign periodical that publishes an article allegedly interfering in domestic politics. In 2001 new legislation extended this provision to cover foreign broadcast services. International newspapers and magazines are available, although authorities have at times banned or censored foreign publications that carried articles the government found offensive. The privately held Singapore Press Holdings, which owns all general-circulation newspapers, has close ties to the ruling party. Government-affiliated agencies operate almost all broadcast media outlets, as well as Internet service providers and cable television services. As a result of legal pressures as well as the influence of owners over editorial content, many reporters practice self-censorship.