Editor says banned, sued magazine ready to fight in Singapore

The editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review magazine on Friday called a defamation lawsuit filed by Singapore's prime minister and a government ban on the magazine a coordinated attack.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father, the city-state's founding former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, filed a lawsuit on Aug. 22 against Hong Kong-based Review Publishing Company Ltd. and the magazine's editor, Hugo Restall, over an article it published in July about Singapore opposition activist Chee Soon Juan.

Singapore's government later banned the Review because it didn't appoint a legal representative and pay a 200,000 Singapore dollar (US$126,150; Ђ99,430) security bond new requirements that are unrelated to the lawsuit, but that the Review has called unjustified.

The two requirements are among tighter restrictions Singapore imposed in August on five foreign publications: the Review, Newsweek, Time, the Financial Times and the International Herald Tribune.

Restall attacked the Review ban in an editor's note in the latest issue, published Friday.

"The timing and substance of this move (the new requirements) were in our view no coincidence," he wrote. "It followed hard upon our refusal to apologize and pay damages."

"With Singaporean efficiency, the government bureaucracy leaped into action on the Lees' behalf, imposing conditions with retroactive effect in order to force the magazine to put its head on the block for the Lees to chop off," Restall wrote.

The Lees' press secretaries and Singapore's Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts did not immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment, reports AP.

Speaking at a Review news conference in Hong Kong to launch a new economic index, Restall said the magazine plans "to defend the defamation lawsuit vigorously, and we look forward to having our day in court in Singapore."

The Review on Friday launched a new "Barometer of Asian Development" covering the past five years.

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