MCI warns The Economist’s Singapore bureau chief for interfering in … – CNA

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) has issued a warning to Dominic Ziegler, bureau chief for The Economist in Singapore, for a public endorsement of local online publication Jom which “constituted interference” in Singapore’s domestic politics.

In a statement on Friday (Sep 8), MCI said Ziegler had “compared Singapore to an illiberal state, and encouraged Singaporeans to embrace an alternative vision, instead of what was being offered by the state and an allegedly captive media”. 

Ziegler, who also pens the Asia-focused Banyan column for the British weekly, was quoted in an Aug 25 Jom advertisement saying that “in illiberal states around the world independent media need supporters”; while pointing to “those states and their captive media” and describing Jom as “offering visions of alternative Singapores”.

According to its website, Jom is a weekly magazine about Singapore. Its co-founders are Charmaine Poh, Tsen-Waye Tay and Sudhir Vadaketh.  

MCI said it had expressed “clear expectation” to Ziegler that he not interfere in domestic politics again.

“Ziegler’s action clearly crossed the line from reporting on Singapore to participating in Singapore’s domestic affairs,” said the ministry.

“Ziegler has exploited his status in Singapore as a journalist in a prestigious international publication to advocate to Singaporeans for his viewpoint on domestic politics in Singapore, a country which he is not a citizen of.”

MCI also said it was a longstanding government policy that “such foreign interference” in domestic politics will not be tolerated. 

“Singapore politics is reserved only for Singaporeans,” it added. 

Foreign correspondents are free to report and comment on Singapore in their respective publications for a global audience, and Ziegler has done so regularly, said MCI. 

“The government insists on the right of reply to correct foreign reports that it considers inaccurate or biased, but it does not prevent foreign correspondents from engaging anyone they wish here and reporting on Singapore in any way they think fit.

“Many foreign correspondents and media outlets base themselves in Singapore. The Economist itself has expanded its bureau here in recent years, transferring many of its correspondents previously based elsewhere in the region to Singapore,” MCI added.

“It would not have done so if it did not find Singapore a suitable base for its correspondents.”

MCI said it continues to welcome foreign correspondents and media outlets to operate out of and report on Singapore, including The Economist.

“However, they must comply with our laws and must not interfere in our domestic politics.”

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