It even claimed that it is only one place behind Philippines, as if our media deserves a pat in the back for being just one place behind one of South East Asia’s more liberal democracy. That is however far from reality.
The media in Philippines played a significant part in bringing down its dictators during the People Power Revolution. The Singapore media is however certainly incapable of doing the same thing if they continue to toe the line. I shall explain in greater detail.
In a separate report on Asia which can be downloaded as a PDF file, the section on Singapore notes,
“Singapore (140th), which has a quite different style, still has a very low ranking because the government headed by the son of founding father Lee Kwan Yew keeps its grip on the media and uses drastic laws to crack down on the few independent journalists.”
Compare that to, “ the complete absence of independent newspapers, radio stations and TV stations, the application of prison sentences for press offences, media self-censorship and the opposition's lack of access to the state media" which was reported on TODAY and extracted from the Singapore Annual Report 2005.
It is obvious that in this case, names are not mentioned. This is something that the local media has always practiced with great nuance. They rarely mention anything negative about the Singapore government or its leaders but is quick to look the other way when it comes to activists or Opposition politicians.
Sure, they do critique the “system” at times. As a general rule however, they never identify the real perpetuators. In this case, those at the top of the hierarchy who denies those press freedom.
The deft touch of rewriting, rephrasing, or omitting out certain details makes it more difficult for the average reader to identify the real source of the problem.
This is what media censorship at its most subtle level can do. F**ing with our mind.
Note: It is not my intention to use the F word for fear of being interpreted as being too vulgar, frivolous or shocking. However, it is also my opinion that replacing it with any other word is in itself practicing a form of self-censorship. The F word is used to convey the seriousness of the manipulations by the local media; and what it can do to us.
For more reports, go to:
Reporters Without Borders - Asia Report 2005
Reporters Without Borders - Singapore Report 2005
TODAY Report on Singapore Press Ranking by Reporters Without Borders:
Singapore 140th in press freedom index
Monday • October 24, 2005
Singapore has inched up seven spots in the 2005 World Press Freedom Index, released on Thursday by international association Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF).
The Republic is now ranked 140th out of 167 countries, one place behind the Philippines.
Last year, Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, slammed the rankings for favouring the press' role of criticism and opposition — a model Singapore does not follow.
RSF noted in this year's index report that Singapore "has a quite different style".
It attributes the country's low ranking to "the complete absence of independent newspapers, radio stations and TV stations, the application of prison sentences for press offences, media self-censorship and the opposition's lack of access to the state media".
The 20-year-old organisation was bleak in its assessment of press freedom in Asia, calling it the toughest continent for journalists.
Once again, North Korea was at the bottom of the rankings, with Nepal, China, Vietnam and Myanmar not much higher up the ladder.
But there are a couple of bright spots.
Indonesia is now ranked 102nd, a jump of 15 places, whilst Malaysia is 113th, up nine rungs.
The latter no longer has any journalists or cyber dissidents in prison and peace accords in Indonesia have opened up the former rebel province of Aceh to journalists, said RSF.
South Korea is the highest-ranked Asian country at the 34th spot.
The mostly Northern European countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland were once again tied at the top of the rankings.
The United States proved it was no bastion of press freedom through legal moves that undermined the privacy of journalistic sources.
Contributing to this was the imprisonment of New York Times reporter Judith Miller. The move saw the US slip 20 places to number 44 on the list.
One observation made by RSF is that countries that have recently won their independence or have recovered it (within the past 15 years) are "very observant of press freedom and give the lie to the insistence of many authoritarian leaders that democracy takes decades to establish".
It cited nine countries — including ninth-ranked Slovenia and Timor Leste which stands at the 58th position — as part of this group.
As a note to its index, RSF stressed that the rankings "should in no way be taken as an indication of the quality of the press in the countries concerned".
— Derrick A Paulo