February 13, 2015
By Kerene Ng
IN terms of press freedom, Singapore ranks 153 out of 180 countries in the world, just below Russia, according to Paris-based watchdog Reporters Without Borders.
In the group's 2015 World Press Freedom Index released on Thursday, the city-state is three notches down last year's 150th place, the worst showing since the index began in 2002.
Reporters Without Borders did not specifically explain why Singapore dropped in the ranking, but last year it cited Singapore
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's defamation case against blogger Roy Ngerng.
In a statement after the defamation suit was launched, Reporters Without Borders said it “considers Ngerng to be the latest victim of a particular legal device known as a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). It is designed in the first place to deny the blogger the ability to publish or the chance to defend himself".
Lee has since won the case and Ngerng made the full payment of S$29,000 for total cost of court proceedings last week.
Regarding the 2015 press freedom index, Reporters Without Borders said the results reflect a "drastic decline" in media freedom in
the world last year.
Over half of the 180 countries that the index surveyed had a drop in performance compared to the previous years.
The countries that top the list are Finland, Norway and Denmark.
Finland has been first in the index for five years in a row.
In contrast, the last three places were taken by Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea.
United States stands at the 49th place, down by three places in 2014; Japan is at 61, down by two places; while Malaysia is ranked 147th.
Hong Kong, after their recent Occupy Central protests, dropped nine places to the 70th position.