Connect with us


Andy Wong: Delayed coverage on ‘Singapore-washing’ highlights media freedom issues in Singapore

Singaporean critic Andy Wong Ming Jun characterized Bloomberg’s recent article, “Singapore-washing has hit a wall,” as an embarrassment for the Singaporean government and a reflection of media censorship in the city-state. Despite Wong first highlighting “China Cuckooing” in Singapore in February, he noted it took four months for Singaporean state media to finally to cover the issue by re-publishing Boomberg’s piece.



Political journalist Andy Wong Ming Jun described Bloomberg’s latest article, titled “Singapore-washing has hit a wall,” as a political embarrassment for the Singaporean government.

Posting on his LinkedIn page, he noted that the article closely aligns with his narrative regarding Singapore being utilized to legitimize questionable Chinese interests, a theme he first addressed in a February article where he coined the term “Singapore-Washing.”

This term describes the phenomenon where foreign companies and individuals, predominantly from mainland China, attempt to cleanse their reputations by establishing a nominal presence in Singapore.

Wong also underscored the irony that it took Singaporean state media four months to gain approval to cover the issue.

The Business Times eventually published the opinion piece by Bloomberg Opinion columnist Shuli Ren.

On 17 June, in her opinion piece, Ms Ren highlighted Singapore, known historically as a safe haven for the wealthy, has seen an influx of funds, particularly from China, amid geopolitical tensions and regulatory crackdowns in other countries.

While this influx has bolstered Singapore’s financial sector, it has also sparked concerns regarding the sources and legitimacy of these funds.

The high-profile S$3 billion money-laundering scandal has brought attention to Singapore’s vulnerabilities in managing substantial inflows of potentially illicit money.

Ms Ren delves into how such scandals and regulatory challenges could tarnish Singapore’s reputation as a reputable financial centre.

She contrasts Singapore’s regulatory approach with that of jurisdictions like Dubai, which has adopted more relaxed regulations, potentially attracting a different clientele.

Andy Wong’s geo-blocked Asia Sentinel article sparks mainstream scrutiny on ‘Singapore-Washing’

Commenting on the Bloomberg article, Wong believed that back in February, his article “Singapore Begins To Pay The Price for ‘China Cuckooing’” published by Asia Sentinel was the catalyst needed to elevate mainstream scrutiny on both the term “Singapore-Washing” and the phenomenon itself.

He noted that this scrutiny has diplomatic and reputational consequences for Singapore, especially amid increasingly choppy geopolitical relations between China and the West, particularly the U.S.

Mr Wong observed that Voice of America (VOA), a U.S. government-funded outlet, played a pivotal role in amplifying his Asia Sentinel article, prompting responses from three senior figures in Singapore’s establishment: former Attorney General Walter Woon, Chairman of the Singapore National Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation Tan Khee Giap, and Singapore’s Ambassador to the U.S., Lui Tuck Yew.

VOA’s February article cited critics’ arguments that the influx of wealth has led to an increase in illegal activities, such as money laundering.

The introduction of Singapore’s Variable Capital Company (VCC) legal structure in 2020, aimed at attracting international fund managers, is highlighted as potentially facilitating these illicit activities.

The S$3 billion money laundering case serves to underscore these concerns.

In response to VOA’s inquiry, Ambassador Lui emphasized Singapore’s stringent measures against money laundering and its commitment to maintaining a clean financial environment.

“We welcome legitimate investors and businessmen, but we have zero tolerance for criminals who abuse our system, wherever they may come from,” said Mr Lui.

Reflecting on the situation, Mr Wong highlighted the irony that VOA’s coverage brought public attention to his article published in Asia Sentinel, especially considering that Asia Sentinel has been geoblocked in Singapore since June 2023, following its refusal to comply with correction notice requirements mandated by the country’s Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA).

In May 2023, John Berthelsen, chief editor of California-based Asia Sentinel, authored an article titled ‘Singapore kills a Chicken to Scare the Monkeys‘.

The piece featured an interview with Wong, who authored an opinion piece in Nikkei Asia that criticized the Government’s handling of KTV lounges amid the COVID-19 pandemic, who said that his life had “been taken apart in stunning fashion, to the point where his professional and social life in Singapore have been ruined and he’s been forced into exile”

In April 2022, Wong was charged with three counts of possessing obscene materials, with another eight similar charges considered for sentencing, and fined S$42,000.

“So, what do you do when you can’t take down a message online? You destroy the person who said it. You shoot the messenger with any convenient weaponized leverage within reach That’s what happened to me,” Wong said in the interview with Asia Sentinel.

“An immediate campaign of character assassination was initiated against me by Singaporean state media, calling my article full of falsehoods and inaccuracies. Shanmugam even went on record in the news and televised parliamentary sessions denouncing me and calling me out as a fraud with an axe to grind against the government.”

Posting on his Facebook page, Minister for Home Affairs and Law, K Shanmugam questioned Wong’s motives at the time, stating: “We are left to wonder if the criminal investigation against him was the reason for his diatribe based on falsehoods, and the extent to which he was doing a political hack job.”

The Asia Sentinel article on Wong’s plight was subsequently handed a Correction Direction by Mr Shanmugam under POFMA over several statements which were deemed as falsehoods.

While Asia Sentinel complied with the direction, the Ministry of Communication and Information said that it did not meet the requirements of the Correction Direction for the respective Correction Notices to be situated at the top of the article and at the top of the main page of the website. It then directed the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to issue Access Blocking Orders to block access for end-users to the site.

Asia Sentinel contends that the POFMA, under which the correction order was issued, represents a draconian measure used by the Singapore government to muzzle criticism.

Andy Wong critiques delayed coverage by Singapore’s mainstream media on sensitive issues

Mr Wong views the articles from Bloomberg and VOA as a validation of his and Asia Sentinel’s credibility.

“The ultimate vindication of my self-worth and credibility is having concrete proof that despite every effort by my government to destroy my reputation and life for petty censorship, I’ve managed to set the narrative tone on politically embarrassing topics for Singapore that SG state media can only meekly ape months after the fact. ”

Wong critiqued what he perceives as the state-controlled nature of journalism in Singapore.

He pointed out the significant delay in local media coverage of the issues he addresses, which indicates a lack of independence in reporting on sensitive matters.

“How Business Times not only is only now publishing something along this narrative line more than four months after I was first mover, but more significantly they didn’t even write it in-house. ”

Mr Wong added, “They had to syndicate Bloomberg’s article. What’s that say about the state of media freedom and political control over the press in the country?”


Share this post via:
Continue Reading
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

The Regime castigate, prosecute citizens who honestly point out their mistakes for the sake of the country’s progress so their children and children’s children can make SG proud, then itself attracts more quality people, begets even more progress.

But the F sense each one has is this PAP’s own selfish AGGENDA seems NOT want and wish to see PEOPLE of SG making SG great.

Can this PAP still BE COUNTED on when bloody OBVIOUS they nullify, cancel and cancel what citizens wish SG GOOD for.

God SAVE SG quick from this murderous Administration.

Shanmugam To The Rescue:
POFMA The Wong.
Car- Wash, Singapore Washing.
What Is SG now A Washing Machine.???

Yes indeed, SillyPore is a lover~ly and merry place to live, breathe and play, if you don’t act~tually mind not having, … … excitement, press freedom, democracy, transparency, accountability, justice, nepotism, cronyism, conflicts of interest, right to assemble and protest peacefully, …………….

Character Assassination IS CHEAP IS DEBASED IS PRIMITIVE is NOT DEMOCRACY trait of DECENT country of Reasonable people.

JUST look at the GREAT American Democracy. THEY THRIVE and THRIVE and THRIVE – when it’s ideas, ideas, and more ideas, INFORMATION that benefits the country and PROGRESS.

Here the PAP Administration HAS ACHIEVED OBSCENE progress RETARDED by their OUTMODED ideas, SIMPLY OPEN Legs to Foreign Prostitutes welcome them by the 1000s to SG.

Help us PAP said. SOS SOS.

Obscene Salary of PAP Political Millionaires POLITICAL THIEVES stealing Reserves TO FEED and GLUTTON themselves….


Obscene Materials of personal belongings..

Which is MORE OBSCENE TO SERVE the Country’s Interests Of Millions of VULNERABLE people WHEN LEADERS are sooooo OBSCENE themselves???

The black mamba strikes again with full fury using the full works of state apparatus akin to the 1960s leftists/communist takedown???????

The establishment doesnt take criticism in their stride and instead of learning and improving , they “shoot the messenger”…
We SGs are doomed…

We all know that the many undesirables in Singapore are allowed here with the blessings of the home Ministry. This cannot be denied as ICA issues the visas. Andy Ong is not wrong in saying that during COVID the Karaoke lounges were allowed to be open. The hostesses from Vietnam, Thailand etc were allowed in by issuing, “the girlfriend/boyfriend visas.” The COVID cases increased when a worker from the whole sale market in Jurong visited a karaoke lounge. We were locked up at home for longer periods because of this. Yishun residents must honestly ask themselves as to why they… Read more »

What “obscene” material?

Andy Wong’s brilliant.
Just brilliant. Deserves an Oscar for Best Script, Best Originality, and Best Politico Prize.

Many in Singapore have no idea what is really going on in their own backyard.
Especially the parts that can have dubious purpose…

Some examples:
Special visitors from countries that are being sanctioned
Production and delivery of weapons, ammunition.
Sale of high end properties, usually residential

The common citizenry is not informed and it is intentional.
For reasons that only the political party knows.