His Excellency Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong
Office of the Prime Minister
Istana Annexe, Istana

Vienna, 22 November 1994

Your Excellency,

The International Press Institute (IPI) is most concerned about the legal action taken by the Republic of Singapore against an American professor and the International Herald Tribune for an opinion piece that criticised unnamed Asian governments.

We are informed that the attorney has applied for contempt of court orders against Christopher Lingle, a former professor at the National University of Singapore, Richard McLean, publisher and chief executive of the International Herald Tribune in Paris, and Michael Richardson, Singapore-based Herald Tribune Asia editor.

Also named as respondents are the International Herald Tribune (Singapore) Pte Ltd and the Singapore Press Holdings Ltd, which prints a regional edition of the Herald Tribune and also published The Straits Times, an English-language Singapore daily.

On 7 October 1994 Professor Lingle wrote an opinion piece in the International Herald Tribune that referred to unnamed “intolerant regimes” and attacked their judiciaries. Singapore officials said they viewed the remarks as being directed at their own country, while the attorney-general’s statements said the five parties were named for “acts in bringing into existence, publishing, printing and distributing a statement concerning the Singapore judiciary which is contained in (Prof. Lingle’s) article”. A hearing on 2 December 1994 has been set in the high court.

IPI, representing publishers, editors-in-chief and leading journalists from newspapers, magazines, broadcasting organisations and news agencies in 89 countries, regards the action taken by your Government to be in violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that the right to freedom of opinion and expression includes “freedom to hold opinions without interference”. We therefore strongly urge your Excellency to ensure that the above charges are dropped immediately and that all newspapers are allowed to operate in Singapore without further political interference.

We thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Johann P. Fritz