Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
 
Singapore 26 November 2008

Wall Street Journal Asia unjustly found in contempt of court and fined

Reporters Without Borders condemns a Singapore high court ruling yesterday finding the Hong Kong-based Wall Street Journal Asia in contempt of court and fining it 25,000 Singapore dollars (12,700 euros) for publishing two editorials and a letter by an opposition leader questioning the country’s judicial system. The newspaper is owned by Dow Jones & Co.

"Even if the fine is not colossal, the ruling very clearly shows that Singapore’s judges have no intention of letting the foreign media express themselves freely about the country’s judicial system, which is lacking in independence," Reporters Without Borders said.

"Another Dow Jones publication, the Far Eastern Economic Review, has also been prosecuted in Singapore," Reporters Without Borders added. "The way this company is being hounded by the government and judicial system - which takes its orders from Lee Kuan Yew and his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong - is utterly deplorable. We urge the Singaporean authorities to stop prosecuting foreign news media."

A Dow Jones spokesman told Reporters Without Borders: "Dow Jones is extremely disappointed with the ruling of the high court and strongly disagrees with the court’s analysis that the editorials and letter to the editor constitute contempt of court. Also, contrary to what the attorney general has alleged, the Wall Street Journal Asia has not engaged in a ’campaign’ of any sort against the Singapore judiciary. We will in the future continue to defend the right of the Wall Street Journal Asia to report and comment on matters of international importance, including matters concerning Singapore."

The prosecution was brought by the attorney general, who said the editorials and the letter, published in June and July of this year, "impugned the integrity, impartiality and independence of the Singapore judiciary."

In his verdict, a copy of which has been obtained by Reporters Without Borders, judge Tay Yong Kwang said that some of the passages had outraged the country’s judges and that "words sometimes mean more than what they appear to say on the surface."

Denying any illegal intent on the part of the newspaper, its lawyer, Philip Jeyaretnam, said it had simply wanted to inform a readership that knew the difference between information and criticism.

The letter was written by Chee Soon Juan, one of the leading members of the Singaporean opposition. It was an article about Chee that led the prime minister and his father, Lee Kuan Yew, to sue the Far Eastern Economic Review. The high court ruled at the end of September that the magazine had libelled the Lees ordered it to pay damages. The size of the damages award has not been released.




In this country
18 September - Singapore
Blogger Gopalan Nair gets three months in prison for insulting judge
17 June - Singapore
US blogger Gopalan Nair still waiting the outcome of trial
5 June - Singapore
US blogger freed on bail
23 April - Singapore
Government urged to lift ban on film about journalist imprisoned for 17 years
24 November - Singapore
Blogger belonging to democratic party jailed for ten days

in the annual report
Singapore - Annual report 2008
Singapore - Annual report 2007

reports
4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election
archives

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised