Monday, October 15, 2007

Lee Kuan Yew Dismisses Low Press-Freedom Ranking for Singapore

Singaporeans are free to read whatever they want, the influential founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew said of his country, which ranks near the bottom on a watchdog's index of press freedom. Lee was referring to the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) annual ranking for 2006, which placed the city-state at 146 out of 168 nations, and lower than Zimbabwe at 140.

RSF cited "new legal action by the government against foreign media" for Singapore's slipping six places in the rankings. "There's nothing that you'd want to read which you cannot read in Singapore," said Lee, who holds the influential title of minister mentor in the cabinet of his son.

"You can buy our newspapers and see whether we read like Zimbabwe..." he said Sunday night in a keynote address to the International Bar Association annual conference, which has attracted thousands of lawyers and jurists from around the world.

Lee said Singaporeans have wide access to information. "Everybody's on the Internet. Everybody's got broadband. They've got cable television, access to all the information. You can blog. You can do anything you like," he said in the speech which drew frequent applause.

"But we do not allow certain subjects to be made bones of contention." Lee said issues of race, language and religion had to be handled sensitively. Singapore is majority ethnic Chinese but with significant Malay and Indian minorities. "A multi-racial, multi-religious society is always prone to conflicts," Lee said. The city-state has bitter memories of past racial incidents in its early years and clamps down hard on anyone inciting communal tensions.

RSF has said Singapore's low ranking stems from "the complete absence" of independent print and broadcast media, the opposition's lack of access to those media, and other factors. Last year Singapore banned distribution of the Hong Kong-based Far Eastern Economic Review magazine, saying it had failed to comply with media regulations.

Lee and his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, are suing the magazine's editor and Hong Kong-based Review Publishing, its owners, alleging defamation in an article last year based on an interview with pro-democracy activist Chee Soon Juan. "We are often accused of suing people for defamation," Lee told his audience.

But he said Singapore was built on the rule of law and did not tolerate corruption, in contrast to the surrounding region where "money politics" was a way of life. This means defamation action may be taken against those who impute dishonesty to government officials, in order to clear any doubts, he said. "As a result, people in Singapore do not equate their political leaders with second-hand car salesmen," Lee said.

The article was reproduced from Agence France-Presse.

Update: A more comprehensive article "Why are we still led by one man's philosophy?" written by Andrew Loh from discussed how our MM is using selective data and reports to suit his argument to explain Singapore's progress in the globalized market, and how Singapore has ignored 'softer indicators' like Happiness, Libido, Courtesy, Income Equality, Press Freedom, Asia Democracy and Prisoners Per Capita Indexes which are equally important indicators for a society which needs a dynamic, inspiring human spirit afforded by freedom of expression and human rights.


DK's evil twin brother said...

That interview was made in 2006. Did he comment about the latest ranking in 2007?

Anonymous said...

Please pay attention to per capita (per head from Latin) numbers as they are more meaningful.
2007 popn lineup:
China (1.3b); US (0.3b); Sin (4.5m).
China/Sin: 286x; China/US: 4.33x; US/Sin: 65.9x;
GDP/PCAP: China: US$8,928; USA: US$45,144; Sin: $35,817
PMSin pay US$2.5m; US$percap: 0.55; PMSin gets this pay per year from everyone in Singapore.
USPresident pay US$0.4m; US$percap: 0.0013; USPr gets this pay from everyone in USA.
SinPM gross pay: 6.26x USPr
SinPM pay per capita: 411.8x USPr.
China GLC per cap: US$1,000;
Sin GLC per cap: US$28,552;
Sin GLC per cap: 28.55x of China.
GLC: Govt linked company
Interpretation: Based on per cap income, USPr will need to work 411.8 years for one year SinPM worked. Conversely, since in one year everyman has 24/7 x 52wks; USPr is stressed out 411.8 times that compared with Sin PM.
If SinPM were to get his pay per cap as that of USPr, Sin PM will receive: US$6,070.
Conversely, if USPr were to get Sin PM pay; US Pr will receive US$164,726, 553 a year. To do this a plebscite will be called.
Pay/GDP/CAP: US Pr: 8.86x; Sin PM: 69.8x. This means USPr makes 8.86 times GDP/CAP(USA); SinPM makes 69.8 times GDP/CAP(Sin).
2007/1959: GDP/CAP Sin :US$35817/$400= 89.5425 times
That's how Sin PM salary is arrived at!

How is it that Singapore PM needs a Mentor who is his father and is paid as much? US$2.5 millions? Is it true LeeKY and company combined assets is the same as Sin GDP? 130 billion US$! WOW! How does LeeKY manage to amass such a fortune and yet remained uncorrupted! One needs a mentor when one is an apprentice! How then an apprentice get paid the same as a mentor?
Should a mentor be paid at all? Shouldn't he be a volunteer, instead. Taking any excellent company; has any past CEO continued as mentor ad infinitum and be paid as much as the incumbent?