Connect with us


Critics believe Singapore’s new ‘foreign interference law’ will further stifle free speech




Critics of Singapore’s new foreign interference law are worrying about how the island-nation’s government may weaponise the new Bill to stifle free speech. But the Singaporean government maintains that its new Foreign Interference Countermeasures Act “is needed to prevent outside meddling in the city state’s domestic affairs”.

Singapore’s strict regulatory and licensing environment, sweeping censorship and libel laws, has pushed the country’s rankings in the annual International Freedom of Speech Index, down to 160 out of 180 countries – behind Russia, Brunei and Uzbekistan, and a swathe of other 3rd world countries.

Here’s the full list HERE.

One of the government’s 10 opposition MPs says the FICA will be a “Trojan horse”, allowing the new Bill to be used as a blunt tool against free speech and dissenting views.

The Foreign Interference Countermeasures Act was put to the vote by the ruling People’s Action Party last week. The party holds 83 of 93 of the country’s parliamentary seats. All supported the bill, pushing it through with a huge majority. The government says the new law is necessary to counter potential incidents of “foreign interference”.

The new Bill can classify people, groups or NGOs as “politically significant persons” (or entities), and can include political parties and members of parliament. Anyone who wants to appeal being branded this way will, in the future, have to appeal directly to the Home Affairs Ministry, instead of the country’s courts.

Among the rules any “politically significant” person or entity will have to declare any “arrangements” with “foreign principals” or donations of 10,000 SGD (about 246,000 THB)) or more.

There are also fines of 10,000 SGD or 14 years in jail for people that don’t declare their donations or allegiances. Entities could be fined up to 1 million SGD.

Kumaran Pillai, the publisher of The Independent Singapore website, which has 1.6 million unique visitors every month, says the new Bill has little clarity on the new powers of the Home Minister.

“Whether intentional or not, the government is setting up barriers to entry in the media landscape in Singapore.”

Independent media outlets in Singapore have an embattled history with the country’s notoriously draconian approach to controlling the political narrative, from local and overseas news providers.

Many foreign, and independent, news outlets have been prevented from setting up outlets in the island-state, despite larger international media organisations prepared to throw money at the projects to get started.

“Critics claim the Singaporean Government is trying to “close off the internet, and control or ban alternative or critical voices.

Singapore’s media scene has been dominated by a near-duopoly for decades… Singapore Press Holdings, which publishes the government’s “cheer squad” daily national newspaper, The Straits Times, and Mediacorp, for the island’s television and radio stations.

SPH is chaired by a former minister of the ruling party.

Mediacorp used to be wholly owned by Temasek Holdings, Singpaore’s investment fund. On its Board are members of the Home Affairs Ministry.


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forum
🔔 Subscribe to our daily newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Thailand's largest online portal for news and information.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand News Today10 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Thailand says no to Sinovac, anutin stands by booster vax, Burmese junta takes a u-turn | Oct. 19

Coronavirus (Covid-19)11 hours ago

Covid-19 Tuesday: 9,122 new cases, 71 deaths, port of entry data

Thailand13 hours ago

Thai culture, tourism, Thailand pass, chit chat | Thaiger Bites | Ep. 41

Sponsored2 days ago

SO Sofitel Hua Hin opens its doors to welcome all visitors!

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Crime13 hours ago

Arrest made for the 14 year old murder of pregnant girl

Crime15 hours ago

Cyber fraud case renews talks over the safety of online banking

Crime15 hours ago

Myanmar’s junta government releases prisoners, cancels arrest warrants

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Politics16 hours ago

North Korea continues testing ballistic missiles

Thailand16 hours ago

No more Sinovac, Thailand pass details, BKK airport expansion | Good Morning Thailand | Ep. 112

Media16 hours ago

Virtual influencers a rising force in Thailand

Thailand16 hours ago

Thailand Top Stories | Police investigate online bank fraud, BKK airport expansion | October 19

Politics17 hours ago

MP queries appointment of army general to oversee Covid-19 in southern Thailand

Politics17 hours ago

Former U.S. president Trump sues House committee over records request

Coronavirus Vaccines17 hours ago

Anutin rejects suggestion booster doses should stop until everyone gets first dose

Coronavirus (Covid-19)18 hours ago

Covid-19 pill treatment highly effective at preventing hospitalisation, death

Coronavirus Vaccines19 hours ago

Thailand to stop using Sinovac vaccine once current supply runs out

Thailand1 month ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism8 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism8 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism8 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11