The real bad guys are Somalia (175th, -11), Syria (176th, 0), Mexico (153rd, -4) and Pakistan (159th, -8), places where journalists and netizens do get physically killed in the course of practising their craft. 2012 was apparently the deadliest ever registered by Reporters Without Borders in its annual roundup. Tanzania (70th,-36) sank more than 30 places because a journalist was shot while covering a demonstration and another was murdered within 4 months.
Burma (151st, +18) has gotten out of its rut in the bottom 15, where it lingered every single year since 2002, probably because the generals stopped gunning down monks in Saffron robes. The enlightened approach to Aung San Suu Kyi and the sincere attempts at reforms must be paying off.
No violence was inflicted on journalists in Singapore, unless someone wants to make a hullabaloo out of the loss of tenure for one academic. Compared to what happened at Tahrir Square, the outing at Hong Lim green was a walk in the park. Even the 200+ Malaysians who defied local laws to stage an illegal assembly near the perennially puking Merlion were treated with kid gloves.
Murder and public mayhem can't be reason for Singapore's ranking dropping 14 points from 135th to 149th. One clue was Japan (53rd, -31) tumbling down the chart because of censorship of nuclear industry coverage and its failure to reform the “kisha club” system. A kisha club (記者クラブ kisha kurabu) is a chubby Japanese news-gathering association of reporters that limits access by domestic magazines and the foreign media, as well as freelance reporters, to press conferences. Also, Argentina (54th, -7) fell amid reports of a new law regulating the broadcast media. So, was it self censorship or impending threats of muscling the social media, cartoons included, that gave the little red dot a rotund black eye? Imagine, if the Sticker Lady had printed "Press For Freedom" instead of "Press Until Shiok" on her labels, she could have been clasped in irons instead of being slapped with 240 hours of community service.