PREDATOR OF PRESS FREEDOM: LEE Hsien Loong; Aged 62; Predator since 2004; Son of Lee Kuan Yew, who was prime minister from 1959 to 1990
ATTACK TECHNIQUE: Recurrent gagging – Lee Hsien Loong does not hesitate to personally sue bloggers he does not like, in line with the strategy known as SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). It consists of bringing defamation suits or other legal actions against isolated journalists and bloggers (who cannot easily defend themselves against politically powerful or wealthy plaintiffs) with the aim of deterring them and their coleagues from contributing to the public debate. Defamation suites [sic] are common in this flourishing city-state, which – despite its modern, avant-garde image – is an enemy of media freedom.
KILL TALLY: Several news websites closed; Citizen journalists and bloggers prosecuted and given exorbitant fines or jail terms
ENFORCERS: Media Development Authority (MDA) – The government-controlled Media Development Authority can censor journalistic content including online content thanks to many tailor-made laws including the Media Development Authority of Singapore Act, the Films Act, and the Broadcasting Act. The MDA ordered the closure of a website called the [sic] The Real Singapore (TRS) in April 2015 because its content was regarded as overly critical. Two of its alleged contributors were charged with sedition, which is punishable by up to 21 years in prison.
FAVOURITE TARGETS: Citizen journalists and bloggers; Independent news websites; Participative websites
OFFICIAL DISCOURSE: righting wrongs – “You can say and discuss anything you like, but you can’t defame anybody you like. If you can’t redress defamation, then how can I clear my name when somebody defames me?.” (July 2015)
COUNTRY SCORE: Singapore has never been higher than 135th in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index. It is ranked 154th out of 180 countries in the 2016 Index.