Yahoo.com — Singapore has once again performed dismally in a global benchmark of press freedom, finishing 154th in the World Press Freedom Index. It was the fourth consecutive year that Singapore has fallen in the rankings, ever since it finished 135th in 2012.
The Republic finished below countries such as Myanmar (143rd), Philippines (138th), India (133rd), Bangladesh (144th), and Malaysia (146th), in what was a poor year for media freedom in the Asia-Pacific region, said Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
The Index, which ranks 180 countries in order of the freedom allowed to journalists measures pluralism, media independence, the quality of legal framework and safety of journalists. Countries like Japan, which was previously regarded as a regional model for press freedom, fell 11 places to 72nd.
RSF noted that in the year since the law on the protection of specially designated secrets took effect in Japan, “many media outlets, including state-owned ones, succumbed to self-censorship, especially vis-à-vis the prime minister, and surrendered their independence.” South Korea also fell 10 places to 70th, as relations between the media and government have worsened under President Park Geun-hye.
RSF had scathing words for China, ranked 176th, where the Communist Party “took repression to new heights.” It added that journalists were “spared nothing, not even abductions, televised forced confessions and threats to relatives”. This was fuelled by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “totalitarian view” of the media’s role.
“It is unfortunately clear that many of the world’s leaders are developing a form of paranoia about legitimate journalism,” said RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloir. “The climate of fear results in a growing aversion to debate and pluralism, a clampdown on the media by ever more authoritarian and oppressive governments, and reporting in the privately-owned media that is increasingly shaped by personal interests.”
Dominating the top four in the Index are once again, Scandinavian countries. Finland topped the list, followed by Netherlands, Norway and Denmark.