Why does Singapore not allow free speech
My life in Bali
An exciting piece of the puzzle in the complex structure that represents a country is freedom of expression and censorship. Of course, there are also limits to freedom of expression in Germany and media products that are prohibited. But it is interesting which topics are affected and where the line is drawn.
For Reporters Without Borders, Singapore ranks 154th out of 180, behind Turkey, which is 151st. After all, Germany is in 16th place.
In Singapore, films are banned completely if:
the content of the film undermines national interest or erodes the moral fabric of society. [..] denigrate any race or religion, or undermine national interest, language that denigrates religion or is religiously profane, real sexual activities [..], explicit promotion and normalization of homosexual lifestyle, [..] encouraging drug and substance abuse and [..] extreme violence or cruelty.
In other words, if they are against national interests or dangerous to society, if they express themselves negatively about races or religions or if they contain pornography, homosexuality, drugs and extreme violence.
The reason given is:
censorship of political, racial and religious issues to a certain extent is necessary to avoid upsetting the delicate balance of Singapore’s multi-racial society
It sounds a bit like the state is protecting its citizens so that they do not come into contact with other opinions or the evil world (some Singaporeans also say that the state treats them like little children). In fairness it has to be said that there was racist-motivated unrest in Singapore in the late 1960s.
Ignoring problems and not expressing criticism is also part of the mentality in some Asian countries (saving face, etc.).
Political films are generally not allowed and must be explicitly approved.
This harmless commercial that pokes fun at the ruling party falls into this category - but the Media Development Authority (MDA) has turned a blind eye.
Singapore Rebel, a documentary about the leader of the opposition party SDP, was banned for 5 years.
This music video by Jolin Tsai from Taiwan, which addresses the disadvantage or problems caused by the non-recognition of same-sex partnerships, must not be played on television and radio in Singapore, as homosexuality is not accepted in Singapore. Even Katy Perry with "I kissed a girl" is not allowed.
Bloggers or Youtubers are regularly sentenced to high fines or imprisonment in Singapore, e.g. if they criticize the government or address grievances.
As soon as journalists or opposition politicians even suspect that members of the government have been bribed or misappropriated money, they are immediately sued and typically sentenced to compensation payments of between $ 1,000 and $ 30,000. The politician Chee Soon Juan has been sued repeatedly and in one case for $ 500,000.
In the reports on such cases there is never any indication of whether the question was even investigated, whether these assumptions are perhaps justified.
16-year-old Amos Yee ended up in custody for 55 days for a YouTube video in which he criticized former President Lee Kuan Yew. The video is a bit vulgar, but it contains valid criticism, e.g. that Singapore also has a high poverty rate, one of the highest Gini coefficients (measure of social inequality) and the highest salaries for politicians in the world.
Madonna had to cut some songs from her concert in 2016 because of blasphemy in order to get permission to perform in Singapore.
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