After facing criticisms over Singapore’s 151th ranking on press freedom, Law Minister K Shanmugam hit out in Parliament yesterday (Oct 3) saying that the international ranking is fake and biased. The Law Minister said that rankings that rank Singapore poorly are “patently false” and specifically singled out international press freedom ranking:
“I am usually careful of such studies and reports that sometimes rank us at the top and sometimes rank us at the bottom… we have to be discerning about these rankings and how they are done and the political objectives behind them. Sometimes, ignore them, when they are patently false and not hold them up as a mantra. In 2008, RSF ranked us 144 out of 173 countries, below Guinea, Sudan, Pakistan, among others. I pointed out in 2009 that the International Herald Tribune (IHT) had a news story on Guinea. It was one or two days before I made my speech. IHT said that people were being gunned down by ‘brutal military junta’ and women were being raped on the streets, but in RSF’s eyes, their press freedom was higher than ours.”
Law Minister K Shanmugam angrily said that the researchers at Reporters Without Freedom (RSF) should go to Afghanistan and Pakistan because Singapore do not detain journalists:
“Singapore continues to fare badly and is ranked 151 out of 180 countries this year by RSF, below countries such as Guinea. Gambia, where journalists were detained, media outlets shut down, Internet disconnected, international phone calls banned last year; South Sudan, where it was described as having one of the world’s most serious refugee crisis, suffering the effects of a devastating civil war. Afghanistan is ranked ahead of us. Pakistan is ranked ahead of us. I would invite RSF to please go there.”
The Minister ended off his speech saying Singaporeans do not need to hear bad news of poor ranking:
“And really, you don’t need studies and reports. You look at our lived reality. What is the experience? Your experience, my experience, experience of our people. You know the answer.”
However the Law Minister conveniently left out the fact that internet blogs and websites have to place a S$50,000 bond when writing articles on Singapore current affairs. There is also a media ban on Election Day and Cooling Off day, while the mainstream media was able to carry on reporting propaganda material. Singapore’s legal media companies are also heavily influenced by the government on editorials, and the national papers Straits Times often publish fake news and half-truths to promote government agendas.