World condemns Singapore dictatorship

From: "truth"
Date: Fri, 20 Nov 2009 04:06:11 GMT
Local: Fri, Nov 20 2009 12:06 pm
Subject: World condemns Singapore dictatorship

From the Committee to Protect Journalists' website:

New York, November 19, 2009-The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns
the Singapore government's refusal to renew British freelance journalist
Benjamin Bland's work visa and his application to cover the recently
concluded Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit meeting. Bland was
reporting on the summit for the U.K.'sDaily Telegraph newspaper.

Bland's visa renewal application was rejected without explanation by the
Manpower Ministry on October 1, according to Bland. When the reporter
inquired why the government refused, the ministry's senior assistant
director, Yeo Kim Huat, told him on October 15 that, after internal
discussions, officials decided that they could not disclose their reasons
for the rejection.

After Bland's work visa expired on October 20, he received a 30-day social
visit pass that stipulated he not work, practice any occupation, or threaten
the well-being and security of Singapore at the risk of arrest and immediate
deportation. The British High Commission asked the Ministry of Information,
Communication, and Arts about Bland's declined request for accreditation at
the APEC meeting, but did not receive a reply, the journalist said.

"The refusal to renew freelance journalist Benjamin Bland's press
credentials again shows the Singapore government's intolerance of
independent and critical reporting," said Shawn W. Crispin, CPJ's Southeast
Asia representative. "Bland is the latest on a long list of foreign
journalists who have been targeted by the government for their news
coverage."

Bland left Singapore to return to his native U.K. on November 14. While
based in Singapore, he reported for a wide range of international and local
publications, including The Economist, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times
weekend magazine, Monocle, Far Eastern Economic Review, Asia Sentinel, as
well as Singapore's Straits Times and Business Times. He also maintained a
blog, The Asia File, which featured occasional critical commentary on
Singapore, including an entry on official secrecy over death penalty
statistics and a reposting of one of his Economist articles on the island
state's controversial efforts to import sand from regional countries for
land reclamation projects.

"The impression I got was that the government wanted to force me out of
Singapore without attracting adverse publicity by dragging out the process
and not giving me any explanation," Bland wrote CPJ in an e-mail. "I feared
that if I spoke out or wrote about my case before leaving Singapore I would
be arrested."

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