Singaporean blogger suspended after gov't criticism
A Singaporean newspaper has suspended an Internet blogger's column after the government criticised his latest satirical piece about high living costs.
"The editors of Today have suspended the Mr Brown column with effect from Friday, 7th July, 2006," said a statement from MediaCorp, the newspaper's publisher on Thursday. No reason was given.
The latest blog from Mr Brown, whose real name is unknown, was entitled "S'preans are fed, up with progress!" and heaped sarcasm on hikes in transport and electricity costs among other issues.
The Ministry for Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) issued a strongly worded rebuttal, accusing Mr Brown of distorting the truth.
"His piece is calculated to encourage cynicism and despondency, which can only make things worse, not better, for those he professes to sympathise with," K. Bhavani, press secretary to Information Minister Lee Boon Yang, wrote.
"It is not the role of journalists or newspapers in Singapore to champion issues, or campaign for or against the government," Bhavani stressed.
"If a columnist presents himself as a non-political observer, while exploiting his access to the mass media to undermine the government's standing with the electorate, then he is no longer a constructive critic, but a partisan player in politics."
Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) described the Singapore government's condemnation of Mr Brown's column as "disturbing" in light of the city-state's already strict curbs on the media.
"This reaction from a Singaporean official is disturbing," the international press freedom group said in a statement.
"It reads like a warning to all journalists and bloggers in a country in which the media are already strictly controlled. The media have a right to criticise the government's actions and express political views."
In April, RSF condemned Singapore's restrictions on political discussions in blogs and websites ahead of general elections held in May.
Last year the group ranked Singapore 140th out of 167 countries in its annual press freedom index, alongside the likes of Egypt and Syria.