SINGAPORE — The bureau chief for The Economist weekly newspaper in Singapore, Mr Dominic Ziegler, has been issued a warning for “actions that constituted interference in domestic politics”, said the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI).
In a press release on Friday (Sept 8), MCI said that it had also expressed its “clear expectation” to Mr Ziegler that he does not do so again.
MCI said that on Aug 25, Mr Ziegler publicly endorsed in writing a local online publication, Jom.
He had compared Singapore to an “illiberal state” and encouraged Singaporeans to “embrace an alternative vision, instead of what was being offered by the state and an allegedly captive media”.
MCI said that Mr Ziegler had “clearly crossed the line” from reporting on Singapore to participating in Singapore’s domestic affairs.
“Ziegler has exploited his status in Singapore as a journalist in a prestigious international publication to advocate to Singaporeans for his viewpoint on domestic politics in Singapore, a country which he is not a citizen of,” said MCI.
The ministry added that it is longstanding government policy that such foreign interference in domestic politics will not be tolerated.
“Singapore politics is reserved only for Singaporeans,” it said.
MCI said that foreign correspondents are free to report and comment on Singapore in their respective publications for a global audience, something which Mr Ziegler has done so regularly.
Mr Ziegler writes the Banyan column, which focuses on Asian politics and culture, for The Economist.
“The Government insists on the right of reply to correct foreign reports that it considers inaccurate or biased, but it does not prevent foreign correspondents from engaging anyone they wish here and reporting on Singapore in any way they think fit,” it said.
Noting that many foreign correspondents and media outlets base themselves in Singapore, MCI said that the Economist has also expanded its bureau here in recent years.
It has transferred many of its correspondents previously based elsewhere in the region to Singapore, said MCI.
“We continue to welcome foreign correspondents and media outlets to operate out of and report on Singapore, including The Economist. However, they must comply with our laws and must not interfere in our domestic politics,” said the ministry.
TODAY has reached out to The Economist and Mr Ziegler for comment.