Singapore—The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) said on Thursday (Jan 23) that Li Shengwu, the nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, should keep on defending himself and appear when the cross-examination is scheduled for his contempt of court case, if he has “nothing to hide.”
The AGC was responding to questions from the media regarding an announcement Mr Li made on his Facebook account on Wednesday (Jan 22). He wrote, “I have decided that I will not continue to participate in the proceedings against me. I will not dignify the AGC’s conduct by my participation.”
Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reported that the AGC said the timing of Mr Li’s announcement is “significant” since it has applied for a cross-examination of Mr Li and for him to respond to questions asked while under oath.
The AGC said, “If Mr Li has nothing to hide, he should make himself available for cross-examination and answer the questions posed to him on oath.”
Furthermore, CNA reports the AGC as saying Mr Li’s announcement “is a clear acknowledgement that his defence has no merits”.
The AGC added, “The reality is that Mr Li is now facing some serious questions in the hearing, and it is obvious that he knows that his conduct will not stand up to scrutiny. He has therefore contrived excuses for running away.”
Mr Li had written in his post that the AGC began to prosecute him “falsely” in 2017 after the event known as ‘Oxleygate,’ the strife between the Prime Minister and his brother and sister,
Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling, regarding their family property and the wishes of their father, Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, concerning the said property.
Mr Li was accused by the AGC of “scandalising the judiciary” because of a Facebook post he had posted privately. “This prosecution has continued for years, and during that time the AGC has submitted thousands of pages of legal documents over one paragraph on social media,” Mr Li wrote.
He added that the AGC has applied to remove portions of Mr Li’s defense affidavit “with the result that they will not be considered at the trial.” Additionally, it asked that the excised portions be placed under a court record seal, hidden from public view.
Mr Li added, “This is not an isolated incident, but part of a broader pattern of unusual conduct by the AGC. For instance, when arguing jurisdiction in the court of appeals, the AGC argued that a new piece of legislation should be retroactively applied against me. The court saw it as unfair for the new legislation to apply retrospectively.”
This is why, he said, he no longer wants to participate in the legal proceedings.
At the end of his post he added that he had removed his cousin, Li Hongyi, the son of the current Prime Minister, from his Facebook friends list.
Mr Li was charged with contempt of court because he allegedly said in a post on Facebook that Singapore has a “pliant court system” and that the Singapore Government was “very litigious”. His post was put up on July 15, 2017, and by August 4, the Attorney-General’s Chambers filed an application in the High Court to start committal proceedings against him for contempt of court.
The post had been set to a “friends only” setting, and included a link to an article from the New York Times from 2010 entitled “Censored in Singapore.”
Mr Li wrote on his post, “Keep in mind, of course, that the Singapore government is very litigious and has a pliant court system. This constrains what the international media can usually report.”
Singaporean media picked up on the post and reprinted it widely, according to the Attorney General, who wrote Mr Li a warning letter asking him to remove the post.
Mr Li was also asked to issue an apology on his Facebook account.
According to the Attorney General, the post was “an egregious and baseless attack on the Singapore Judiciary and constitutes an offence of contempt of court…. The clear meaning of the post, in referring to ‘a pliant court system’, is that the Singapore Judiciary acts on the direction of the Singapore Government, is not independent, and has ruled and will continue to rule in favour of the Singapore Government in any proceedings, regardless of the merits of the case.” -/TISG