mandag 11. oktober 2021

Kirsten Han: Singapore’s new ‘foreign interference’ law leaves journalists like me with an impossible puzzle

It was only to be expected that the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Bill, or Fica, would pass – the ruling People’s Action Party has had a supermajority in parliament for decades, allowing them to push whatever legislation they want through the House. But the concerns that activists, journalists, academics and legal practitioners had before the bill’s passage persist.

Justified by the government as urgently necessary for the protection of Singapore’spolitical sovereignty, Fica grants the government powers to issue directions requiring a range of actions – from removing or blocking access to online content, to mandating the publication of government notices, to banning apps from being downloadable in the country – so long as it suspects there might be foreign interference, and is of the opinion it’s in the public interest to act against it.

It can also appoint an authority to designate individuals and entities as “politically significant”. Once so designated, they will be required to submit regular reports relating to donations and foreign affiliations.