Singapore—Li Shengwu, the nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, posted an update on his case on Monday, April 1.
The son of Lee Hsien Yang noted that while the Attorney General did not succeed in getting new rules to be retroactively applied in Mr Li’s contempt of court case, the case will now proceed due to a ruling from the court that the process service on Mr Li was effective.
Li expressed his disappointment with the judges’ decision but noted that the onus is now on the Attorney General to prove beyond reasonable doubt that his private Facebook post scandalized the judiciary in Singapore.
Mr Li, an Assistant Professor of Economics at Harvard University who lives in the United States, also wondered as to the amount of public funds that have been spent on the case against his mother and him.
He ended his post by saying that the Prime Minister seemed “quite happy with the situation.”
Here is his post in full, “An update on my case: The Singapore AG’s attempts to retroactively apply new rules were not successful before the court. However, the court has nonetheless ruled that service of process on me was effective. The case will now move on to substantive arguments.
I am of course disappointed with the judgement. However, the AG will still need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that my private facebook post somehow scandalised Singapore’s judiciary.
It is now one year and 8 months since this surreal mess started. One wonders how much state resources have been spent going after myself and my mother? As far as I can tell, my uncle, Lee Hsien Loong, seems quite happy with the situation, even though it reminds everyone of his shameful conduct over 38 Oxley road.”
Background of the case
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.”
The case against Mr Li’s mother
As for Lee Suet Fern, the mother of Mr Li whom he refers to in the post, in January, a case of “possible professional misconduct” in the preparation of her father-in-law and former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew’s final will was referred to the Law Society by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).
The Attorney General claimed, “In this case, AGC became aware of a possible case of professional misconduct by Ms Lee. Ms Lee appears to have prepared the Last Will of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and arranged for Mr Lee Kuan Yew to execute it, despite the fact that her husband, Mr Lee Hsien Yang, is one of the beneficiaries under the Last Will.
Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s share increased under the Last Will. AGC also noted that Mr Lee Hsien Yang had said publicly that the Last Will was drafted by Ms Kwa Kim Lee of M/s Lee & Lee. However, Ms Kwa Kim Lee has denied that she drafted it.”
In a Facebook post on January 7, Lee Hsien Yang denied that his wife had ever been Lee Kuan Yew’s lawyer. He wrote, “My wife was never Lee Kuan Yew’s lawyer. Our father’s private will was executed some 5 years ago. Our father informed his entire family and his lawyers at Lee & Lee when he completed his will and kept his will at Lee & Lee. This was his re-signing of his 2011 will in which Minister Shanmugam was involved. Lee & Lee had been our father’s lawyers for all his wills since his first will in 1995. That first will was drafted by our mother, Kwa Geok Choo, who was then the principal beneficiary under our father’s will.
No one has complained from the outset on the process and circumstances of our father’s signing his final will – not Lee Kuan Yew, not his estate which stands in his shoes after his death, not any of the beneficiaries, including Lee Hsien Loong, who was advised by Lucien Wong, now AG. The will was proven in court in 2015 with no issues raised; all parties have acted in accordance with the will since then.”