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Li Shengwu ordered to attend hearings for cross-examination in contempt of court case

Judge dismisses application to set aside AGC's questions, accused now has 14 days to answer them

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The High Court on Monday (Feb 3) ordered Li Shengwu to attend court hearings to be cross-examined, and he now has 14 days to answer questions posed to him by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) related to allegations of contempt of court.

In a Facebook post on Jan 22, shared by his father Lee Hsien Yang, Li announced his refusal to continue to participate in the proceedings against him by the AGC for “scandalising the judiciary”.

He added that the AGC had prosecuted him for allegedly “scandalising the judiciary” in a private Facebook post. “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,” he wrote.

During Monday’s hearing, Justice Kannan Ramesh dismissed Li’s applications to set aside the AGC’s questions and for discovery of certain documents on the case from the AGC.

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Mr Abraham Vergis and Ms Asiyah Ahmad Arif of Providence Law Asia had discharged themselves as counsel for Li earlier in the day.

In his January Facebook post, Li mentioned that the AGC had applied to strike out parts of his defence affidavit, with the result that they will not be considered at the trial. He wrote that the AGC “demanded that these parts be sealed in the court record, so that the public cannot know what the removed parts contain”.

The AGC responded that in late September, 2019, Li had instructed his lawyers to release copies of his defence affidavit to the media before it was admitted into evidence or referred to in any court hearing. As a result, a breach of the Supreme Court Practice Directions occurred and the court subsequently struck out portions of the affidavit “which contained scandalous and irrelevant material”.

The case is about a Facebook post Li allegedly made in 2017, when he published a private Facebook post with a link to a New York Times editorial titled Censored In Singapore, and a caption that read: “Keep in mind, of course, that the Singapore government is very litigious and has a pliant court system.”

The questions that the AGC posed to Li included how many Facebook friends he had at the time of the post and whether they included members of the media.

Responding in the Facebook post in January, Li wrote: “My position is this: Who my friends are is none of their business. My friends have a moral right to privacy.

“Since I’m declining to engage further in these court proceedings, I will not dignify the AGC’s allegations with a detailed response”.

Li is an assistant professor of economics at Harvard University and lives in the United States. /TISG

Read related: Li Shengwu refuses to take part in proceedings for allegedly “scandalising the judiciary”, removes cousin Li Hongyi from Facebook friends list

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