Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) secretary-general Chee Soon Juan backed vice-chairman John Tan and urged Singaporeans to support his donation appeal, which was launched to help him defray legal costs.
The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) initiated legal action against activist and SDP member Jolovan Wham in 2018 after he claimed that the judges in Malaysia were more independent than those in Singapore when it came to cases with political implications, in a Facebook post.
Mr Tan then made a Facebook post of his own, in which he suggested that the AGC’s action against Mr Wham confirmed the truth of what he had written. The AGC initiated contempt of court proceedings against Mr Tan as well and both men were subsequently found guilty of scandalising the judiciary in 2018.
Mr Tan appealed the judgment in 2019 but his bid failed. He was slapped with a S$5,000 fine and, by implication, barred from contesting elections for five years.
Although Mr Tan’s lawyers acted for him pro bono, he incurred hefty legal costs up to S$37,434.10 due to the case. On Monday (2 Nov), he appealed for donations to help defray the legal costs so that he can “fight another day for free speech and social justice in Singapore.”
Fellow SDP members like chairman Paul Tambyah, James Gomez, Jufri Salim and Damanhuri Bin Abas lent weight to his appeal. Dr Tambyah said: “John L. Tan is a friend and a true believer in democracy. I have contributed.”
Mr Damanhuri, SDP’s Head of Training and Development who was also Mr Tan’s election running mate, said: “An appeal from John, who was my MYT GRC team mate in 2015 election, to help defray his legal cost from the court case he had to fight. Do help any little amount you can. Thanks.”
Organising Secretary and International Liaison Officer Jufri Salim and member James Gomez made similar statements. Dr Gomez said, “SDP’s John Tan needs your support for speaking up. Help him defray his legal costs. Many Thanks!” while Mr Salim said, “Do give us a chance to speak up for you and fight for social justice. Show your support for my party colleague, John Tan, by chipping in to defray his legal costs. Thank you.”
Party chief Dr Chee is the latest to support Mr Tan’s appeal. Appreciating Mr Tan’s contribution to his party over the years, Dr Chee called Mr Tan his most reliable and dedicated partner.
He wrote: “John has been a stalwart of the SDP, heading up our communications team through the years. I’ve never had a more reliable and dedicated partner in the on-going cause for democracy in this country. Give him a hand, won’t you? Thanks.”