Singapore tries five for revealing economic facts - World - News - The Independent

Singapore tries five for revealing economic facts

TWO journalists and three economists went on trial in a Singapore district court yesterday in an official-secrets case that emphasises the government's determination to maintain control of information.

Patrick Daniel, 38, the editor of Business Times, Singapore's main financial newspaper, is among the five charged under the Official Secrets Act with illegally revealing the island state's rate of economic growth. In June last year the newspaper correctly forecast that Singapore's second-quarter growth rate would be between 4.6 per cent and 4.8 per cent. The official figure, announced some weeks later, was 4.7 per cent.

According to the prosecution, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, director of the economic department of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the de facto central bank, gave the government's 'flash estimate' of the growth rate to Manu Bhaskaran, an economist at a Hong Kong-based company, Crosby Securities. He in turn is accused of communicating it to Raymond Foo, a colleague, and Kenneth James, a journalist on Business Times. Mr Daniel is charged with receiving and printing the information. The case is scheduled to last three weeks.

The first prosecution witness, Lai Seck Khui, deputy secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, which conducts the 'flash estimates', said he contacted the Internal Security Department (ISD) after being 'shocked' to read of the newspaper's estimate.

In August last year the ISD raided the Business Times's office. Journalists and foreign brokers were questioned and files seized in a heavy-handed investigation after the Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong, said he would not tolerate the illegal disclosure of sensitive or classified information, adding: 'You can't run a government which is leaking all over the place.'

Singapore's Official Secrets Act is the same as the draconian British law passed in 1911. The journalists face two charges under the Act and the private economists three, each carrying a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment and a Sdollars 2,000 ( pounds 850) fine. The Attorney-General, Chan Sek Keong, making a rare appearance in a lower court, said the case had been brought to establish the principle that for the government to function properly, 'it must be able to keep sensitive information secret'.

The government's pursuit of what would be considered a routine leak in most developed economies is seen as a warning to local journalists.

The press had risked becoming more critical since Mr Goh took over in 1990 from Lee Kuan Yew, promising a 'more consensual' style, and Business Times was regarded as the most outspoken.

Mr Lee, who does not hesitate to criticise Mr Goh publicly if he considers his successor to be relaxing his grip, let it be known after last year's raid that the leak would not have happened if he had still been in charge.

Life and Style
tech
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Manager (retail, upgrades, rollouts)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...

Project Manager (upgrades, rollouts, migrations)

£350 - £425 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project Manager - 3 mont...

IT Administrator - Graduate

£18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£5 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Year 5/6 Teacher - FlintshireRa...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week