SINGAPORE – The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) has issued a warning to Mr Dominic Ziegler, who is The Economist’s Singapore bureau chief, over “actions that constituted interference in our domestic politics”.
The ministry said in a statement on Friday that it had also expressed its “clear expectation” to Mr Ziegler that he not do so again.
In its statement, MCI noted that Mr Ziegler had on Aug 25 publicly endorsed, in writing, local online publication Jom.
“He 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,” it said.
“Ziegler’s action clearly crossed the line from reporting on Singapore to participating in Singapore’s domestic affairs.”
Mr Ziegler writes regularly for The Economist’s Banyan column, which covers Asian politics and culture.
MCI said Mr Ziegler had 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.
“It is longstanding government policy that such foreign interference in our domestic politics will not be tolerated,” said the ministry. “Singapore politics is reserved only for Singaporeans.”
Foreign correspondents are free to report and comment on Singapore in their respective publications for a global audience, said MCI, noting that Mr Ziegler himself had done so regularly.
“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 added.
The ministry noted that many foreign correspondents and media outlets base themselves in Singapore. The Economist itself has expanded its bureau here in recent years, transferring many of its correspondents previously based elsewhere in the region to Singapore, it added.
It would not have done so if it did not find Singapore a suitable base for its correspondents, said MCI.
In a Banyan column in May, Mr Ziegler announced to The Economist’s readers that he had moved to Singapore from Hong Kong.
Jom was launched in August 2022. According to its website, this was six months after The Inquiry, the company that runs the digital magazine, was registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority in February that year.
MCI said: “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.”
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