Singapore student forced to shut down blog after libel threat

A Singapore student has been forced to shut down his blog on April 26 for fear of a libel action by the head of a government body.

The threat of prosecution came from Philip Yeo, chairman of the government’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research, who claimed the agency was libelled in a blog by Jiahao Chen, a Singapore student finishing his studies in the United States. Writing under the pseudonym of Acid Flask, he criticised Yeo and the Agency’s scholarship system. Yeo sent several e-mails demanding that he delete all blogs mentioning him or the agency and threatening legal action if he did not.

Reporters Without Borders said in a statement that “Threatening a libel suit is an effective way to silence criticism and this case highlights the lack of free expression in Singapore, which is among the 20 lowest-scoring countries in our worldwide press freedom index…we especially support bloggers because they often exercise a freedom not seen in the rest of a country’s media.

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