Singapore Gag

January 22, 1995

Singapore's top court last week fined the writer, editor and publishers of an article for contempt for "analyzing the Singapore judiciary." The offending phrase: Some Asian countries have a "compliant judiciary to bankrupt opposition politicians."

The editor testified he thought the comment was about China. The writer, long gone, won't pay and won't return. The International Herald Tribune can afford the $3,448 fine against the editor and smaller fines against others.

This has a chilling effect on the press catering to the Asian market. It also chills Singapore development, as information companies in Hong Kong that might think of relocating by 1997 won't think of Singapore. As for the Singapore elite, they know that a compliant judiciary bankrupts opposition, but with their faxes and modems and the Internet, they receive all the messages they need.

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