Late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s grandson, Li Shengwu, was not present at the first pre-trial conference held at the High Court today, of the contempt of court case he is facing.
32-year-old Shengwu – who is a junior fellow at Harvard University in the USA and is expected to become a associate professor at the University next year – has previously asserted that he has no intention to disrupt his “happy” and “fulfilling” life in the US by returning to Singapore to face the legal proceedings that were initiated by the Attorney-General’s chambers over a private friends-only facebook post.
The nephew of Singapore’s current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has instead appointed a lawyer, Mr Abraham Vergis, MD of Providence Law Asia, to act on his behalf during the case which Shengwu has called “politically motivated prosecution”.
The next pre-trial conference has been scheduled for 4 Dec, so as to allow time for Vergis to review the case. Vergis told reporters that he was the one who requested for time to review the papers filed by the AGC.
He also revealed that he was appointed to act on behalf of Shengwu on Monday but declined to say when he was approached to assist in the case.
Shengwu attracted the attention of the AGC on 15 July after posting a private “friends-only” Facebook post, criticising Singapore’s government and judiciary.
Linking a Wall Street Journal article that offered a thorough analysis of the public Oxley Rd feud, Shengwu had said in his own words: “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.”
Shengwu’s post followed the explosive Oxley Road dispute, in which his father Lee Hsien Yang and paternal aunt Dr Lee Wei Ling had been embroiled in a public feud against their elder brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
The PM’s younger siblings alleged that the PM was abusing his power to preserve their family home against their father’s willed desire to demolish the house, in June and July this year.
They also accused the PM of convened a secret committee to make a decision on the house and claimed that state organs were being used against them.
PM Lee addressed the allegations against him in a Parliamentary debate where he declared that he has been cleared of all charges. He added that he does not intend to sue his siblings.
Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang reinforced their allegations, following this, but offered a ceasefire on releasing further evidence in favor of settling the matter in private, on the condition that they nor their father’s will be attacked or misrepresented.
Dr Lee Wei Ling has come out in support of her nephew when Shengwu’s post caught the eye of the AGC. Sharing his post on her Facebook page, she wondered whether government staff are used to monitor her family’s private musings and suggested that this case could be an example of how Singapore may be governed by a “big brother” system:
I am surprised that AGC takes such negative reaction to a private post. Is there a government servant whose duty is to follow the Facebook activity of all people related to Hsien Yang and I, including our private musings. Also, what Shengwu posted is a common topic amongst Singaporeans who are well informed. Is this not an example of ” big Brother government”. Perhaps it is a case of “if the hat fits, take it.”
Shortly thereafter, the AGC filed an application in the High Court for leave to commence committal proceedings against Shengwu for “contempt of court in connection with the publication of a Facebook post.”