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Politics

As Southeast Asia muzzles media, investors do business as usual

Cases like Rappler chief's ordeal in Manila haven't slowed record money flows

Maria Ressa, the CEO of online news platform Rappler, arrives to post bail in Manila on Feb. 14. The site has clashed with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.    © Reuters

BANGKOK -- The arrest last week of a high-profile journalist in the Philippines and a gag order against a Thai television station are the latest reminders that Southeast Asia's press freedoms rest on the whims of governments. But after investors poured a record $145 billion into the region last year, there is little reason to think they will be deterred by the latest clampdowns.

Last year's inflow, recently reported by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, included an unprecedented sum for Vietnam, a one-party communist state. As usual, around half of the money went via Singapore, which has been ruled by the People's Action Party since independence in 1965 and where reporting is stymied by prolific use of the courts against foreign critics of the ruling elites.

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