The Society of Publishers in Asia registers concern over the recent passing of the Foreign Interference Countermeasures Act in Singapore
The Society of Publishers in Asia notes with concern the recent passing of the Foreign Interference Countermeasures Act (FICA) in Singapore.
While the threat of coordinated interference in any country’s domestic politics is real, the overly broad wording of the bill allows the Singapore government to block content, request user information, and restrict apps without due process.
The FICA bill follows the passage in 2019 of the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, which allows the Singapore government to mandate the removal or correction of content it deems to be false. Both laws create a chilling effect on the press in Singapore.
We note that Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs has stated that the FICA provisions do not apply to “Singaporeans expressing their own views on political matters, unless they are agents of a foreign principal” or to “foreign individuals or foreign publications reporting or commenting on Singapore politics, in an open, transparent and attributable way, even if their comments may be critical of Singapore or the Government.”
We applaud these principles and hope that they are upheld.
Singapore is a global hub for finance, technology, and, increasingly, media. All of those industries depend on the free flow of information to flourish.
The Society of Publishers in Asia urges the government to allow independent and international publications to report freely and factually in Singapore.