New Naratif founder and managing director Dr Ping Tjin (PJ) Thum in his home where police have seized his laptop (Image: Supplied)

Singapore is often hailed as a beacon of democracy and rule of law in a region with a growing trend of authoritarian regimes shuttering free press and cracking down on government critics.

But earlier this month, Singapore’s Elections Department announced that a police report had been filed against independent media outlet New Naratif, alleging it had published paid advertisements during the general elections in July that amounted to illegal election activity under the punitive Parliamentary Elections Act.

Then, on September 21, New Naratif’s founder and managing director Dr Ping Tjin (PJ) Thum was summoned by police and interrogated for four hours before officers escorted him to his apartment and seized his laptop.