Fenced Fourth Estate

How could you not take subversive pleasure in this letter-duo found in the week's Economist?

SIR – Philip Bowring’s account of the Far Eastern Economic Review’s encounter with the Singapore government is inaccurate (Letters, October 17th). In 1987 the government restricted the circulation of the Review after it had engaged in Singapore’s domestic politics. But an advertisement-free version was distributed widely at bookshops and supermarkets, and sold more than 1,000 copies. In March 1988 the Review applied to produce a similar version. The government agreed, subject to a ceiling of 2,000 copies, but the Review refused its offer. Would this have happened in Maoist China and North Korea?

Michael Eng Cheng Teo High commissioner for Singapore London

SIR – You will be tempted to give the Singapore government the last word on its censorship strategy—as its “right of reply” policy demands—but this will neutralise the criticism of Mr Bowring and others. Readers will simply assume you agree with the government. Assuming you don’t, please print this alongside its next rebuttal, to expose this subtle yet powerful manipulation of the press.

Duncan M. Butlin Chichester, West Sussex