The Independent has submitted its licensing registration forms: MDA

Published: December 6, 4:02 AM

SINGAPORE — The owners of current affairs and news website The Independent have submitted forms to register under class licensing rules to the Media Development Authority (MDA), the regulators confirmed yesterday.

The deadline for the submission was yesterday, after it was asked to do so by the MDA in July.

An MDA spokesman said it is reviewing the forms, in response to queries.

Registration under the Broadcasting (Class Licence) Notification involves the five-member team behind the website agreeing not to receive foreign funding “for its provision, management and/or operation”.

The website’s owners have maintained all along that it does not accept foreign funding, despite the MDA saying previously that the Government has received “specific information, which gives it cause for concern over foreign interest to fund” the website — which is owned by a locally-incorporated company, Protegesoft.

Separately, the office of the Minister for Communications and Information said in a statement: “By submitting the registration forms, The Independent is accepting an important and fundamental principle that foreign entities should never engage in Singapore politics nor should foreign interests be allowed to control or influence our local media platforms, offline or online.

“This is how we ensure Singapore politics remain a matter for Singaporeans alone. Any attempt to directly or indirectly circumvent this principle is wrong, must be resisted by any responsible media platform, and will not be condoned by the Government.”

In a posting on its website on Nov 28, The Independent also set out what had transpired that led to forms being submitted only now, despite the MDA asking it to register within 14 days after a meeting on July 29.

The signed and notarised forms were about to be dispatched to the MDA on Aug 6 when it was informed by the regulator that a new set of forms will be sent. These were received on Nov 14, which it said “are different in scope from the earlier ones”.

On Nov 25, the MDA agreed to give it more time to study the new forms, but The Independent sent the regulator the earlier set of forms to demonstrate that its position — since a shareholders’ agreement on April 19 — remains that “it does not accept foreign funding”.