Singapore | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Singapore

Singapore

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

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

64

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

22

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

19

Media in Singapore remain tightly regulated by the government. The constitution provides for freedom of speech and expression but also permits restrictions on these rights. Legal constraints on the press include strict censorship laws; the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act, which allows authorities to restrict the circulation of any foreign periodical for news coverage that allegedly interferes in domestic politics; and the Internal Security Act (ISA). Although not used against the press in recent years, the ISA gives the government broadly defined powers to restrict publications that incite violence, arouse racial or religious tension, or threaten national interests, national security, or public order. The vast majority of print and broadcast media outlets, as well as Internet service providers and cable television services, are either owned or controlled by the state or by companies with close ties to the ruling party. For example, the government is legally mandated to approve the owners of key management shares in the privately held Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), which owns all general-circulation newspapers. Faced with the influence of owners over editorial content as well as the government's successful record of suing critics under harsh criminal defamation laws, journalists sometimes refrain from publishing stories about alleged government corruption and nepotism or the supposed compliance of the judiciary, or otherwise practice self-censorship. A number of independent Internet newsgroups provide a source of unfiltered news and opinion. However, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that new regulations passed in November would empower authorities to monitor the Internet more aggressively. International newspapers and magazines are available, although authorities have at times banned or censored foreign publications that carried articles the government found offensive. The circulations of some Western-owned publications, such as the Asian Wall Street Journal, are "gazetted," or limited.