Singapore Cracks Down on Blogger
A threatened libel suit against a blogger by a Singapore government agency has raised concerns among international press freedom groups that the city-state might be cracking down against dissent on the internet.
A*Star, the city-state’s science and technology agency, has set a deadline of Monday for a student who criticised its scholarship system and policies on his web log to make an “unreserved and sincere apology” or else be sued in what would be one of the first such cases in Asia against a blogger.
Blogging and libel laws are also emerging as a key legal issue in the US and Europe.
“Such intimidation could make the country’s blogs as timid and obedient as the traditional media,” said Paris-based Reporters without Borders, which last year placed Singapore at the bottom of developed countries on press freedom.
International press freedom groups are watching the case since blogs could challenge the Singapore government’s tight media controls.
“We are troubled that the government has raised the spectre of costly legal action to chill commentary on the internet,” said the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
See this CPJ press release for complete details. What’s striking about such cases is how they fundamentally signify press freedom on the international stage, yet many American journalists are quick to dismiss blogs as “pseudo-journalism.” They are, of course, entitled to their opinions. It’s also natural for people to become protective of their craft. But the likes of David Shaw may want to consult their colleagues abroad.