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SINGAPORE HIGH COMMISSION’S REBUTTAL TO AN ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD ON 31 JULY 2018 ENTITLED “AN ISLAND OF WELLBEING IN A TIDE OF DEMOCRATIC DISINTEGRATION”

27 August 2018


Mr Greg Hywood

Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director

FairFax Media


Dear Mr Hywood,


Mr Peter Hartcher’s editorial in the SMH (“An island of wellbeing in a tide of democratic disintegration”, 31 July 2018) recycles tired and misinformed views on Singapore’s institutions.


Singapore has held 14 general elections since 1959, all free and fair, and robustly contested by many parties. The People’s Action Party has remained in Government through the free choice of voters. Mr Hartcher’s claims about Internet access, the courts and the law of defamation in Singapore are without basis.


Singapore has one of the highest internet penetration rates in the world. The Government does not restrict access to the Internet, apart from blocking a small number of jihadist, pornographic and gambling sites. Singaporeans can access all manner of information online, including critical views like Mr Hartcher’s.


The quality and impartiality of our judicial system is internationally recognised. Cases are regularly filed against the Government, often successfully. Singapore is a popular venue for resolving cross-border disputes, and our judges have been appointed to sit on tribunals in other jurisdictions.


Our defamation law is based on English law, and applies equally to every person. The law has fostered a more honest and cleaner public debate, without impairing vigorous argument. The last two general elections were fought without any defamation suit being brought, and none of the Opposition MPs in Parliament today have been sued for defamation.


Singapore’s system may not be to Mr Hartcher’s taste, but it has produced stable and effective government, and enabled Singaporeans to enjoy opportunities and a quality of life that few other countries provide. Singapore’s per capita GDP (at purchasing power parity) is US$90,500, compared with Australia’s US$49,900.  Singapore has worked with successive Australian governments to deepen its extensive partnership with Australia, but Mr Hartcher’s dismissive comments reflect an entrenched condescending attitude which hardly conduces to mutual respect and cooperation between our two countries.


We would appreciate it if you could publish this response in full for the benefit of your readers.


Yours sincerely,


<Signed>

SHIVAKUMAR NAIR

Deputy High Commissioner

Singapore High Commission in Canberra


cc     

Ms Lisa Davies

Editor

The Sydney Morning Herald


Mr Peter Hartcher

Political Editor and International Editor

The Sydney Morning Herald


 
 
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