Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Back in the saddle

After a one month break from blogging, brought to you courtesy of the Singapore government, I'm getting back into the saddle.

Having worked as a freelance journalist in Singapore for the last year, I was forced to leave last week after the government refused to renew my work visa without warning or explanation.

I can only conclude that the government had a problem with something I wrote. I'd love to know what it was but all my attempts to elicit this information, through official and unofficial channels, have failed thus far.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a press freedom campaign group, has condemned the refusal to renew my visa, saying that it "again shows the Singapore government's intolerance of independent and critical reporting". As CPJ points out, I am merely "the latest on a long list of foreign journalists who have been targeted by the government for their news coverage".

Not forgetting, of course, the many Singaporean journalists who have been forced out of their jobs or sidelined after crossing the government's deliberately unclear line of acceptability.

I'm currently back in my home town, London, enjoying the reassuringly miserable weather for a couple of weeks before returning to Southeast Asia. I will be setting up in another Southeast Asian city from where I will carry on reporting, writing and blogging as before.

The only difference, I suspect, is that I will be much freer to write about Singapore without fear of direct reprisals from the government.

If you're reading this, you'll have noticed that I've signed up to be part of the new Asian Correspondent blog and news site, which I wrote about previously. Let me know if you have questions or problems with the site, either through the comments, via email (theasiafile@gmail.com) or via twitter (@benjaminbland).

Pic courtesy of Flickr user nlann.


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