Strict censorship and a tame press continue to characterize the press freedom climate in the city-state, which in October promulgated regulations designed to keep a range of prohibited information from reaching its citizens by the Internet. Using the threat of costly lawsuits, harsh national security legislation, and decades of indoctrination, Singapore's ruling People's Action Party, which has been in power since independence in 1959, has fashioned a predictably bland media culture.

Singapore Press Holdings Ltd., a private corporation with close ties to the government, controls all general-circulation newspapers. The government-linked Singapore International Media PTE Ltd. has a virtual monopoly on broadcasting. Satellite dishes are banned with few exceptions. The government has successfully prosecuted numerous domestic and foreign journalists in the past, and as a result of previous run-ins with the government, many foreign publications have their circulation strictly controlled by the government. Such is the case with The Asian Wall Street Journal, the Far Eastern Economic Review, and Asia Week, the three leading regional news publications.

The new Internet regulations allow unhindered access for commercial users while preventing private users from having access to a wide range of sites. The Singapore Broadcasting Authority (SBA) requires Internet service providers to block sites the government identifies as taboo because of their political or sexual content. The SBA also requires political and religious societies to register their Singapore-based websites. Singapore's government has set a goal of becoming a regional center for both on-line commerce and Internet-control technology. The government considers its Internet controls to be a success and an example to other nations in the region, but the tightly regulated environment for the press at all levels in Singapore is anathema to the promise of unhindered information flow promised by the Internet.

This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.